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For the Harry Potter scenario fictional examinations, see Hogwarts#Grading and assessment. For the birds see owl.

OWLS is a mnemonic used by general aviation airplane pilots to assess an unprepared surface for a precautionary landing.[1]

Like all mnemonics this check has become part of aviation culture and folklore.


  • Obstacles
  • Wind direction
  • Length of surface
  • Surface condition and type


  1. ^ a b Kaiser, John W.: How to Fly Book - Cessna 150, page 37. Victoria Flying Club, 1977.