Increase the prediction rate, and try not to be chasing only reaction.
The future structural integrity of an aircraft depends upon how it is landed. The gear box, the crucial connection between the gear and the fuselage is perhaps the strongest single part of an aircraft. Yet, under repeated severe impact the box can weaken and fail. Under normal landing impact the gear box can last the life of the aircraft without incurring weakness or failure.
Slow landings will assure the longevity of the landing gear and therefore of the aircraft. Why slow instead of soft? The very best pilots will touch down while holding a high angle of attack and as slow as he can get the plane. The resulting slow touchdown may be physically firm but 'soft' on the structure of the aircraft. The mental requirement for such a landing is just keep trying to hold the aircraft in the air as long as possible. Let the aircraft choose when it will land.
The stabilized approach has a constant airspeed. The visual picture of the approach slope is maintained initially with flap application, next by power changes, and finally by airspeed changes. The ideal would be maximum flaps, constant power, and constant airspeed. The roundout is planned to give a level ground effect flight path with the wheels about hip high over the runway. The airspeed will decrease but is NOT a part of the pilots visual scan. The pilot has his eyes initially on the far end of the runway. The nose is held up to keep the far end of the runway covered without raising the aircraft altitude. You will not see the runway on making ground contact with the main landing gear. You will continue to hold the nose wheel off the runway as long as possible. You can increase 'possible' by removing flaps during roll out.
A very weak elevator feeling can be felt as the aircraft begins to sink to the runway. In anticipation of this sink the pilot must gradually raise the nose without causing the aircraft to rise. This is the flare caused by a gradually increasing speed in the back and up movement of yoke to hold the nose covering the far end of the runway. The yoke movement can be accompanied by a gradual reduction of any power remaining. Ideally, when the yoke is full back and up and the power is off the aircraft will decide to land.
The ideal landing does not occur with a full stall ground contact. The ideal occurs before the stall as audibly indicated by the stall warner. The stall warner is usually activated five-knots before the actual stall occurs. The ideal ground contact has no side loads imposed on the landing gear. The vast majority of landings occur in crosswind conditions. The more gentle the crosswind and the more slight the angle the more difficult it is to detect and make compensation for. Crosswind corrections are obtained by having the nose aligned on the centerline and a wing held down just enough to counter the drift caused by the crosswind. The most common fault of the pilot is failing to make changes as they are required prior to touchdown. Wind velocities and angles are not constant. Hence, constant adjustments of both rudder and aileron are required of the pilot. There is no standard of rudder or aileron. You DO whatever it takes to keep the nose aligned and the drift countered. Aligned is NOT of necessity on the center line.
Law of Primacy
There is probably more poor instruction done during the practice of touch and go landings than any other phase of learning to fly. Remember the student doing solo is self-instructing. Doing touch and goes is equivalent to learning to drive by going around the same block over and over. Some of the procedures inherent in the touch-and-go are contra-indicated in normal landing procedures.
Good procedure requires a pilot to put in the power before retracting the flaps as in a go-around, but the touch-and-go trains otherwise. During the rollout the student brings up the flaps, puts in the power and goes. All of the touch-and-go procedure requires some reference inside the cockpit to controls and instruments while rolling at high speeds. This again contradicts what will later on be considered good procedure. Good procedure in any complex aircraft says not to retract flaps while on a runway since the gear lever may become involved. The law of primacy is constantly being abused when we teach touch-and go's.
I do the vast majority of my initial landing instruction by incorporating less than 25 mile planning to adjacent airports. This teaches the pilotage, radio procedures, traffic avoidance, ATC requirements, and pattern entries that cannot be part of in the pattern flying. My first landing lesson consists only of go-arounds at increasingly lower altitudes speeds in both left and right patterns. I show that the go-around can be initiated at any point in the pattern, as well.
Every landing can be a precision landing within limits. Unlike a glider, where an airplane touches down is a function of airspeed, ground effect, and pilot control. A spot landing can be 'faked' by the use of power or rather the abrupt reduction of power. I recommend using the runway threshold as your aim point for flare and then use the yoke and power for the lowest possible touchdown speed. For practice, use a flare-point up to a thousand feet down the runway to allow for any misjudgment you might make in your approach to the 'displaced' threshold.
Pre-decide under what circumstances you will execute a go-around. You do not need to wait for the runway threshold to make a go-around. A go-around can be made on downwind if something occurs on the runway to prevent a landing. Turbulence or extreme winds can affect your downwind, base or final to preclude a landing. Go-around. Being high, low, with a fast or slow ground speed can precipitate a go-around situation. The major factor of any go-around is to do it without hesitation or doubt. Practice of go-arounds should not consist of over the runway situations.
Begin your airspeed control and configuration adjustments abeam the numbers. Use your downwind airspeed and distance from the runway to set the initial parameters of your pattern. Adjust trim and flaps with a constant power setting for wind conditions. On final, put in full flaps to keep the flare point at or in front of the threshold. Corrections for being low consist ONLY of full power while holding approach speed. Corrections for being high consist of maximum flaps for wind, power reductions in increments as required to adjust glide slope at constant airspeed. Trim. Slow down to Vref of 1.2 Vso. Being high or low is visually determined by any closing or flattening of the space between the flare point and the selected touchdown. Make a final check of the windsock to determine if the landing can be made with existing flaps. If not, go-around.
Throughout the approach all speeds and configurations are at constant power and trimmed for hands-off control. The POH has a recommended approach to landing speed range. Use the low end of that range and recognize that you can fly even slower if you compute Vref based on weight below gross.
When you have completed the roundout and are in the flare, the pitch attitude should be slowly increased to raise the nose to block your view of the runway over the nose. Psychologically this is difficult to do because of years of driving cars. You want to see the runway (road) ahead. What you must do, is spread your vision so that the horizon to each side of the nose becomes your visual reference. If the horizon rises relative to the nose you are falling and should lift and pull the yoke. If the horizon falls relative to the nose you are rising and should pause for the time it takes the nose to reposition itself relative to the horizon. Moving the yoke forward is a no-no. The limits of human recognition and reaction are such that any forward movement of the yoke will most likely make things worse. It has taken years of empirical evidence and wrecked aircraft to make this a truism of flight instruction.
To avoid flare problems you must stop looking at the runway once over the threshold and look to the far end of the runway while initially holding the nose level with the runway. As the aircraft slows deliberately raise the nose to touch the far end of the runway. Hold it there as you gradually reduce the power. As you reduce the power raise the nose still more. The ideal, seldom achieved, is to touch the ground just as the yoke is full back and the power all the way off. Don't try to see the runway hold runway alignment with peripheral vision to each side of the nose.
The psychological problem in this landing lies in the instinctive desire to
keep the runway in sight. Accept the fact that a good landing requires the
disappearance of the runway. You can control your height above the runway by
sighting on both sides of the nose using your peripheral vision. By keeping
the horizon from either rising or falling you can be assured that you are
about to touchdown. A firm touchdown does not hurt the airplane as long as it
is not from over a couple of feet and without any side load. This landing
means that the aircraft is through flying and will not rise again into the
air. Continue to hold the yoke full back until the nose wheel falls of its own
In a full-stop landing most pilots are advised not to do any post-landing cockpit changes until clear of the runway. Exceptions to this might be where your approach speed requires braking that would damage the tires unless removal of the flaps would increase weight on the surface.
I spend my time waiting at an airport watching landings. I know a high percentage of accidents occur during landings but that is not why I watch. Rather I try to determine how many 'practice' landings are really bringing improvement or changes. Most landings seem to include the nose wheel in the touchdown. Fewer than half appear to be stabilized on final. Frequently speeds are so fast that much of the runway is consumed in float. A bounce is usually followed by another bounce. The go-around is just not utilized as part of a poor landing. The concept of a good landing seems to be the smooth 'greaser'. In reality, a good landing is on the aircraft mains and 'firm' and slow enough on ground contact that the aircraft will not fly again.
Patterns another FAA way. Maintain cruise speed to the key position. Then cut your power and hold altitude as you decelerate. When you reach your approach speed you turn base. When lined up with the runway, turn final. You will be on final carrying whatever power level you initially set at the key position. I don't understand why there is no mention of trim
Getting ahead and staying ahead is a winning game in flying as well as football. Start with a prepared operational plan for the flight, where you are going, what you will say and do to get there and alternate plans to your alternate plans. Get your ducks in a row before you start the engine meter. Have everything ready to go, before you go. The will of the pilot commands the airplane and its flight.
Before we get into the plane we pre-plan the runway and departure required for most economical flight. The entire landing process is talked and walked through in both left and right pattern. The prelanding checklist is completed prior to the numbers. At the numbers the simulation continues as we walk the pattern. C.H. power to 1500, trim down 3 turns. Hold heading and altitude while speed slows to 60 kts. Ideally we now have 1000' AGL, 1500 rpm, and 60 knots as we reach the 'key' position. The 'key position is the corner of the traffic pattern where the turn from downwind to base is made. The yoke pressures for the first 10 degrees of flap and up trim are simulated to hold 60 knots as well as the 90-degree base turn at a 30-degree bank. 10 more degrees of flap and up one trim, hold 60 kts and turn final. Full flaps, up the third trim and hold sixty knots until the go around just prior to our simulated ground level altitude. After the complete walk through we are ready to practice at altitude.
Making good landings uses all the skills we have learned in airwork, ground reference, taxiing, radio procedures and area familiarity. The single most important skill is airspeed control. With good airspeed control we can control the second most important skill, the flare to touchdown. With numbers one and two in hand and ability to do the Dutch roll we can control important skill number three, keeping the airplane on the runway.
Forgetting How to Land
Everyone 'forgets' how to land at one time or another. Try to recall the one possible change that could have saved the landing: Think go-around.
Here are some thoughts:
1. A good pattern is the first ingredient of a good landing.
2. A stabilized approach is more possible from a good pattern.
3. The idea that you can't make a poor landing from a good approach is just that an idea.
4. There is only one appropriate approach speed for a given weight.
5. Trim for the appropriate approach speed.
6. When the runway is made, a little throttle will help you flare, sometimes.
7. A smooth round out is the proper prelude to the flare.
8. Looking for the far end of the runway and covering it with the aircraft nose makes the flare.
9. Don't make the plane land. Let it land itself.
10. The most likely pilot failing will be lack of patience.
After completing the four basics, trim, flaps, stalls, airspeeds and ground reference I begin a combination of radio procedures into neighboring airports and actual landing practice.
My first 'landing' lesson is preceded by simulated landings at altitude with both left and right patterns, use of flaps and a go-around. We do these until the process of prelanding checklist, power reductions, trim, flap application on downwind, base and final are accomplished with some degree of anticipation by the student. Special attention is given to flap removal during the go-around.
The student then uses the pre-planned airport arrival radio calls until airport downwind or two-mile calls at which point the radio and traffic responsibility is totally assumed by the instructor. The student is expected to concentrate on the landing pattern procedures as practiced in the air, including the go-around. No actual landings are planned. Rather, each approach will be followed by successively lower altitude go-arounds. Go-arounds begin at 200' and are cut in half down to 25' in both left and right patterns. I feel it is an instructional deficiency not to have students do as much right pattern work as left pattern work.
The second lesson will consist of landings and at least one go-around in both left and right traffic to a different airport. Student will handle all the departure en route and initial arrival radio before handing it over to the instructor. The first landing is to a full stop in order to familiarize the student with ground and taxi procedures. All subsequent landings are 'with the option' as approved by ATC. The landings are taught as 'normal with flaps as the conditions and patterns dictate. No flap landings are usually taught in conjunction with slips. Some form of emergency is included in every lesson.
My third lesson usually is directed toward uncontrolled airport procedures. Again, the student does all the departure and arrival radio work with the instructor taking over in the pattern after the first landing. First landing is with a full-stop taxi back. Pattern directions may be limited by local rules. I initially teach standard 45-degree entries preceded by overhead arrivals using the 45-degree outbound/course reversal to the inbound 45.
My fourth landing lesson takes us into a Class C with a visit to both TRACON and the FSS. (Not since 9/11). This particular airport has a 600' pattern altitude which gives the student an opportunity to get into the sequence of landing procedures more landings for a given time. 600' patterns make things happen faster. An engine failure emergency is usually included.
My fifth landing lesson is at our home field that has dual parallel runways. This flight takes place at 7 a.m. in conditions that will allow us to use all runways from both directions. By prior arrangement with the tower we ask for Gene Whitt's radio lesson. The lesson consists of ATC giving radio instructions to the student that will cover as many variations as can be crammed into 45 minutes. Instructor will not allow the student to make a mistake...instructor mistakes do occur. We will extend downwind, go-around, do a stop and go, land long and make a 180 on the runway for takeoff, overfly field and enter another downwind, simulated radio failure by ATC with light signals, (Instructor missed this one), failure to give clearance, 180s to a reciprocal landing on adjacent runway, 360s on downwind, left and right 270s to re-enter on base, sidestep landings, and more. At the end of this lesson the student will be responsible for all future radio work.
Included in this lesson will be a simulated engine failure on final at 400'. Aircraft has full flaps that make it impossible to reach the runway unless flaps are removed while constant approach speed is maintained. Done properly, a no-flap landing occurs far down the runway. Being able to perform this properly can and has saved lives. A NORDO lesson is given when we return home from any one of the lessons. Student just takes off his headset and I present ATC with the problem while I monitor the arrival over the radio. Never telling ATC where you are makes the exercise more realistic for them.
Ideally, the next lesson is a solo lesson if conditions allow. Otherwise we use the conditions to review a previous flight. For solo, I expect the student to give me three safe landings and a go-around in the first half-hour. I know, and the student knows when he is ready.
In my teaching process, post solo, I fly dual to a nearby airport and back with the student. I advise ATC at both fields that my student will be returning solo. I get out and send the student off to repeat the flight solo. I do this to a different airport for the next four consecutive lessons.
By the time this process is completed I have given my student a very large area with a number of airports for which they know the procedures and checkpoints. It is my belief that this process is a significant builder of student confidence and independence. My solo sign off includes the privilege of flying solo again to these airports. I much prefer my solo students making these flights than going around and around the pattern at the home field.
The best advice that can be given in salvaging a landing is "Go-around". There are a variety of ways that salvaging can be accomplished by experienced pilots. At the primary level these are best not ever demonstrated to neophytes. The new pilot is best advised never to move the yoke forward nor to look out the side while in the flare.
Looking out the side induces a high flare. In the flare there is no error
margin for such a look. Keep your eyes over the nose and keep the end of the
runway covered. Jerking the yoke forward and back at a critical point in the
flare is completely contrary to good landing procedure and control. Pilots who
hold a full-fist grip on the yoke are prone to jerky yoke movements and over
control. One, or at most two fingers, are all that are required to flare an
aircraft for landing. It is important that the student realize that
during full extension of the yoke movement is both
back wards and up wards.
Contrary to your apparent opinion of a good landing, the "thump" is a very desirable and sought for landing result. That is, within limits. From ten feet it is a bit much but within the design limits of most training aircraft. In such a flare the go-around is to be preferred to the addition of power.
Twenty years ago, maybe it was thirty, the six page FAA PTS guide said that the ideal landing consisted of a gradual reduction of power in the flare. Coinciding with this reduction was a constant (logarithmic) backward movement of the yoke. The ideal landing results when power off, full back yoke, and ground contact occurred simultaneously.
I would add to this FAA directive that if you see the runway over the nose you are unlikely to make the ideal landing. The childhood toy plane 'greaser' landing is not the ideal. It will usually indicate that the aircraft is NOT through flying. You do not land an airplane when a good "thump" landing occurs. You should land like a duck, head up and feet forward. The ideal is for the airplane to "thump" down when it is ready to touchdown and through flying.
On re-reading there is much that can be added to each sentence and paragraph above. The complexity of a good landing occurring amidst all the external variables makes any ONE explanation invalid at any juncture. Maybe that's why the FAA stopped trying.
While our flight maneuvers have become more comfortable, landings remain a
source of tension. As an instructor I try to economize my program by
introducing the skills that will be required a few flights ahead. The best
example of this is Dutch rolls. The instructional use of en route step climbs
and descents to selected altitudes at every opportunity is good instructional
use of time and aircraft. This skill can be practiced in a C-150 but the skill
difficulty is not so obvious due to limited aircraft performance.
If the landing process is tending to overload the student remove the pressure of radio and traffic watch. Make sure that the student is reducing the workload by correct use of trim for airspeed. Have him talk through each maneuver as an aid to the anticipation required for smoothness. Be aware that much of 'getting 'behindness' in flying has to do with airspeed control which is ultimately set by the airspeed 'cruise control' called trim.
As part of teaching landings I plan a program of flying to all the neighboring airports. This minimizes the noise at my home location, which is particularly noise sensitive. I give concentrated practice on the use of checkpoints for departures and arrivals. We rehearse radio procedures both to and from as they relate to these checkpoints.
Correction of Mistakes
Learning to land means learning to correct for mistakes. Specific problem situations should be created during the landing training period. Make the approach deliberately high and have the student dive for the runway to demonstrate the effect of flaps, power and airspeed on the approach. Then go around. Make the approach deliberately low and show how the application of full power while holding a constant airspeed to re-intercept the proper glide slope is the best solution. Demonstrate how airspeed changes can adversely affect the visual perception of the glide slope. Show how the close in downwind caused by a crosswind so shortens the base leg as to lead to the dangerous over-banking of the infamous 'downwind turn. Simulate engine failure on final with full flaps. Show how flap removal and a constant airspeed makes it possible to make the runway. When control is lost during landings reflexive "steering" as with an automobile exacerbates the problem. Go around before the situation gets to this point.
What and how well a pilot sees outside and inside the cockpit is determined by cockpit design, flight configuration, and by the variability of the seat itself. How you see from the cockpit is affected by the direction and distance of your eyes from the wheels; the line where the cowling cuts off everything below, and the pitch angle used in approach, flare and touchdown. As the pilot you want to maintain a consistent eye reference position in the cockpit. The more consistent your cockpit-cutoff angle the sooner the student will recognize the landing flare and touchdown attitude. Not expecting the runway to disappear will cause a student to reduce pitch and 'duck down' to the runway. This can cause a pilot to land short of the runway.
Whenever a pilot has perceptual problems from the cockpit he is liable to visual illusions. The more poor the visual ability the more likely that illusions will occur. A wider than usual runway will cause a pilot to perceive being lower than he is. The result is a high flare. A narrow runway will give the perception of being too high and cause a low flare or premature contact with the runway. The lack of visual references will also give the illusion of being too high.
Aside from these physical factors we have the visual acuity of the pilot which determines how well contrasts in lighting exist. any visible moisture will diffuse light and decrease the contrast as well as light. Without contrast you cannot either identify objects or give height distinctions effectively. With practice we can learn to use the approach lights, runway lights and markings for determining height above touchdown. Your ability to perceive vertical height above the runway and the proper flight slope reduces in poor visual conditions. Runway alignment becomes an illusion and may cause over-correction and even loss of control.
Being a pilot teaches one to deal with frustrations. I was on an airliner where we were number 18 for takeoff. The Pilot treated the situation honestly by keeping track of our progress. There is no sense in trying to do something about something that is beyond human control. A pilot must learn to expect delays, mechanical failure, weather below minimums, and scheduling problems. There is no place for road rage in flying.
Dealing with the problems that cause delays is a measure of pilot maturity. When flying always arrive early enough to allow for unanticipated delays. Just getting fuel can take 45 minutes. Fouled plugs can take from three minutes to an hour. A pilot must learn to live with mechanical delays such as a dead battery, vapor lock, low tires, or low shocks. Any one of these means a departure delay necessary to get an airworthy aircraft.
Social pressures on the pilot are a problem that will always exist. Non-pilots have no appreciation nor understanding of the multitude of hazards extant in flying. Weather can be and is usually a dramatic variable influencing a pilots hurry-up syndrome.
Darkness, or the approach of darkness for the non-proficient at night, is a terrifying hurry-up situation. Worse, darkness always arrives faster and sooner than expected. The problem is accentuated when the pilot is without the necessary tools for flying in the dark.
Passenger illness becomes a hurry-up unless you have pre-planned for the eventuality. I like to bring a large heavy-duty garbage bag being enough to cover the whole body. Then they can get as sick as they want for as long as they want. Eating ginger before seems to reduce the symptoms.
The most insidious of all flying delays comes through the loss of proficiency. All pilots will experience poor landing approaches that require a go-around. Every pilot must acquire and retain an extra level of proficiency beyond what personal limits find necessary. The less frequently you fly the higher must be your proficiency margins. You will lose timing first. You will fail to time your rotation, trim movements, power changes, radio changes, and even noting the time. The last thing you lose is aircraft control at cruise speed. You will lose precision in holding altitudes and headings. Your turns will lose and gain altitude. You lose precision in power applications.
The 'trepidation/concerns' felt during landings, stalls, or low level
operations can be overcome only with repeated training and exposure. In the
beginning, recognition of the problem as one of stress perception. This
recognition awareness means that removal of the problem will occur under
appropriate instruction and improved sensitivity to the available cues during
the landing procedure. During landing, the aircraft slows and there is a
corresponding decrease in the effect of any crosswind.
Pilots will feel a need to hurry when it is their 'job' to be on time. The greatest flex in time exists in the pre-flight and taxi times. My wife and I recently flew on a Southwest flight that was two hours late because of a hydraulic failure on the scheduled aircraft. Passengers were literally required to run down the boarding ramp. The push-back was accomplished while the passenger briefing was completed in record time. The flight from Reno to OAK was made in 3l minutes, liftoff to touchdown. The taxi speed at OAK could not have been less than 60 mph. I just wonder how many errors of omission and commission occurred on that flight? How many items did the pilots fail to do or how many of the items were done in the wrong way.
Why Poor Landings?
Of late there have been a number of students who have indicated that just prior to the checkride that they begin to have difficulty making landings. There are many extraneous factors beyond the basics of airspeed, configuration, and attitude that can cause sudden loss of landing skill. I will try to come up with a few and hope that others will fill out the picture from their experience by posting on rec.aviation.student.
Begin with the pilot who is supposed to be 80+% responsible for all problems. Stress is a factor that can be very insidious in its ability to affect performance both physical and mental. A certain amount of stress is good but the individual has no way of knowing when the stress cup runneth over. Fatigue, sleep depravation, nutrition, and chemicals can have effects on both reaction and anticipation flight performance. As often as not it is an unasked question that is the source of a problem. An unasked question can be a matter of knowledge, emotion, or just personality. If your landings are not what they should be, begin your search for reasons by checking yourself out. Begin by asking questions of yourself and your instructor.
The set up for your arrival to a runway makes considerable difference in the adjustments you must make. The standard 45 degree to downwind entry gives you the best opportunity to anticipate any adjustments that may be required. The straight-in requires a higher degree of approach slope perception than other landings that keep you closer to the runway. There are more adjustments to being high on the glide slope than when low. High means you can put in maximum flaps for conditions, reduce power, and even slow-up. Full power is the best universal correction for being low. Knowing how to get to there from here even in the pattern is a skill that comes easily to some but must be acquired in steps by most.
You must become familiar with reading wind directions and velocities. Begin by comparing your estimate with the ATIS or AWOS wind. After a few tries you will get pretty close. Now look to the windsock and note how it is performing. Relate the stiffness of the windsock to wind velocity but become familiar with the differences that exist since there are windsocks designed to become stiff at different velocities. Reading the wind effects on your aircraft is an essential skill. Low level drift effects in light winds are the hardest for students to detect and correct. Work on 'seeing' the wind.
The variables of weather can have dramatic effects on even the most experienced pilot. The first hot day of summer shows many a winter pilot how quickly a flaring plane can run out of ground effect. The calm wind often makes ATC keep a noise abatement runway in use often with a light tailwind. On such occasions everyone lands long, at least on the first try. The strong wind right down the runway over 15 knots require that the pilot make many anticipating adjustments on the downwind, base and final. Failure to stay close and high will require full power to make interception of the glide slope possible. Don't be concerned about being high in such a wind. Use the wind; don't let the wind use you.
The crosswind requires that the pilot make an initial estimate as to how he plans to configure the aircraft and fly the pattern.. Use the minimum flaps for the wind and your experience. The less flaps the easier will be a go-around. As in all landings, the go-around should be the first option when things are not going well. Basic skills for the crosswind, in addition to airspeed and configuration , are the Dutch roll and side slips. Always fly a crabbed heading into the wind to achieve a much wider downwind any time the crosswind is blowing you toward the runway. Failure to do so means that you will be exposing yourself to illusions conducive to the stall-spin accident.
If you are unable to keep the nose parallel with the runway using the rudder on final, you have winds that have exceeded the crosswind rudder control required. You have the option of increasing the approach speed or power so as to improve rudder authority. The side slip is used to keep the aircraft aligned with the extended centerline of the runway. Basic skill is the Dutch roll.Some difficulties related to the sudden onset of poor landings have to do with being exposed to unfamiliar runways or pattern direction. If you have learned to land by relating specific points and altitudes in the pattern direction at a particular runway, this knowledge will not transfer readily to another airport or runway. The size of runway presents an optical perception that can confuse the most experienced pilot. For years I used a beautifully numbered and painted model airplane runway to confound my students when doing simulated emergencies. Use your charts and guides to get runway dimensions before taking off. Required information by FAR, you know. The normal tendency is to fly much closer to small and unfamiliar runways. Try flying twice as far away as you think you should and you will be about right.
The unfamiliar airport and runway at night is exceptionally difficult since there are no visual references other than the runway lighting system. If at all possible visit an airport in the daytime before going there for night landings. The illusions of size, layout, slope, and taxiways are compounded at night. Don't try for the full stall landing at night. Accurate depth perception at night is most difficult.
Darkness comes early in the day during the winter. This means that when flying a portion of it is more likely to occur at night. This is more likely to include landings than takeoffs. This is more likely to bring an increase in overshoot and undershoot landing accidents.
The last area of student difficulty is the human ability to focus on one
factor of concern to the elimination of all other factors. Tunnel vision they
call it. Under stress a pilot concentrates on an area of concern such as,
"Will the airport stay where it is?" As a result of this focus such
unimportant things as power reduction, trim, altitude, heading, flaps,
airspeed, and aircraft control get out of sequence and position. Flying is a
skill that requires multitasking capability. The pilot coming in to land must
have division of attention to all the factors above along with awareness of
the big picture that comprises the runway, airport pattern, and other traffic.
Distractions are likely to occur at any time in a flight. The distractions
that create flight problems are those that occur during high workload
operations such as takeoff and landing. The use of a checklist reduces the
problems created by distractions.
It takes some pilots longer to reach solo than others. The reasons are usually hidden in weaknesses of basic skills of aircraft control, situational awareness, misconceptions, or preconceptions. There are always solutions, they just sometimes take longer to find. Doesn't sound easy, and isn't. Just necessary. You are not ready to solo until you can do all of the above, talk/listen on the radio and have enough emotional and intellectual energy left over to carry on a side conversation much as you would in an automobile.
The art of flying
Pilots fly as much through their psychological factors as much as by their physical skills. The way an airplane performs reflects the person flying. An instructor is not always aware of how these factors make not so subtle differences in the way a student receives instruction and later responds with that instruction. Skill in flying is much like other skills that combine intellect, emotion, and physical actions. The performance of a maneuver is intensely intellectual and a reflection of the artistic presentation of the pilot.
Useless Things in Flying
--Airspeed you don't have
--Altitude above you
--Runway behind you
--Fuel in the truck
A pilots successful accomplishment of the following procedures is predicated upon mastery of the four basics. When turning from base to final or when on a long final it is quite common to find that you are not properly aligned with the runway. How you make your correction is important. If you are obviously far off you should make something in the order of a 30 degree intercept to final.
If you are only a few hundred feet off line and still have several hundred feet of altitude, sideslip over to the runway by applying opposite rudder and wing down. During a slip, forward yoke pressure must be held to keep the same indicated airspeed. In any cross-control application the pitot air intake will not be aligned for an accurate airspeed reading. The nose should be lowered to maintain the proper indicated airspeed. The more violent the slip and the more flaps you have on the greater will be the control pressures and amounts needed to hold alignment. Keep the nose straight with the runway at all times. This will achieve alignment and provide the control practice useful for future crosswind landing corrections. During instruction flights with long straight-in approaches have the student use side slips to move the aircraft back and forth across the runway centerline.
Regardless of the landing conditions, type of wind, or aircraft configuration, keep the aircraft nose pointed parallel to the white center line. On the line if you can but at least parallel. The rudder keeps the nose parallel, the ailerons keep the or put the plane on the line.
For training purposes, on a long straight in approach, slide the plane back and forth across the runway both right and left stopping each time you are properly aligned. Winds seem to decrease in velocity at lower altitudes thus reducing control amounts required. If you are within 100 feet of touchdown and have not secured runway alignment make a go- around.
The key to landing control is the stabilized approach. This means that the aircraft has been configured on final with several constants. The C-150's power is set at 1500 RPM. The flaps are full down. The airspeed is trimmed for hands off 60 kts. Control forces are consistent, especially the rudder. If the pilot has flown an acceptable pattern the touchdown should occur within the first third of the runway. In a properly flown landing, the pilot does not know exactly where a touchdown will occur. Even in PTS accuracy landings a touchdown within 200' beyond a line is acceptable. In the proficiency phase of training 100' is required by this instructor.
The Approach is Low
The natural reaction of being low is to put the runway where it belongs by raising the nose. Often a little power is added. Failure to hold forward pressure will cause a further decrease in airspeed. At approach speeds, any decrease in the airspeed will shortly accelerate the descent. As the ground approaches at the increased rate of sink, the nose may be raised again and a bit more power added. This is the classic entry into the 'decelerating approach'. a situation that may put you 'behind the power curve' where more power just makes you go slower. You may read about this as "dragging it in. (See minimum controllable)
The best correction for being low on approach is application of FULL power for 10 to 30 seconds to re-intercept the normal approach path. Do not change trim. During this power application, forward pressure must be held to maintain approach speed. The runway may disappear but when you have estimated your interception of the glide slope, reduce to approach power of 1500 RPM. The aircraft will again descend at approach speed as trimmed. A second such correction may be required. Less than full power may lead to the 'decelerating approach' described above.. Use the following terms to diagram the situation and solution.
Normal approach angle keeps changing
Repeated instances of being low
Repeated applications of partial power
Only proper solution:
Full power added shallow and low until intercepting approach angle
Obstruction Clearance on Final
If a hazardous obstruction to a final approach exists the facilities directory will have a note on its location and altitude. Check notams for any airport you use at night or under IFR conditions. Except for runways with VASI lights or an ILS there is no minimum approach altitude required by the FARs. The steeper you approach the more likely you are to avoid any obstacles. Any approach less than three-degrees exposes you to both man-made and natural obstacles. The closer in you keep the pattern the better your obstacle clearance chances. A steep approach increases landing accuracy.
The Approach is High
The most common cause of a high final is being too close to a short runway on downwind. This results in an abbreviated pattern with a short base. Suppose you have full flaps, power off, and at the short field approach speed are still too high. Several temptations and options exist.
The landing which is too high has three possible corrective measures, flaps, power reduction and airspeed reduction. When initiated soon enough these three individually or in combination should suffice. The keys to avoiding being too high are airspeed control and a stabilized approach. Airspeed control is the most important.
The natural reaction to being high on final is to put the nose down and dive toward the landing zone. Wrong! Lowering the nose gives a momentary perception that the runway is in the correct position. Diving will add to the airspeed, flatten the glide angle and lengthen the flare distance to touchdown. If the touchdown should occur with too much airspeed the rollout distance will increase by the square of the ratio of the actual touchdown speed to the normal touchdown. A speed 10% faster than normal will require 21% more distance to a full stop. Lowering the nose to keep the aircraft off the ground can precipitate several expensive types of damage. If you cannot touchdown in the first third of a runway, go-around. Sooner rather than later. Diagram the situation and solutions using terms below. Draw two lines from the aircraft with about a five-degree difference for each approach.
A go-around would be the best choice. But, sometimes a pilot will raise the nose a bit to increase the sink rate. As the ground approaches at the increased rate, the instinctive desire to decrease the rate exists. The nose must not be raised since this will increase the rate of sink. The nose must be lowered and power added so that sufficient lift will exist to allow a flare before touchdown. This is especial important in short winged aircraft. At low approach speeds it is possible to fall right through what would ordinarily be there as ground effect.
The Correct Procedure to
Correct for Being High
1. Put in maximum flaps according to wind conditions.
2. Reduce power. 100 RPM decreases for slightly high to OFF if very high.
3. Raise and trim nose for minimum approach speed.
The short field approach speed in a C-150 is 55 kts at gross with full flaps. After #1 and #2, #3 is the last option for being high. This, will initially, cause the runway to disappear but it is the best way to lose the most altitude while covering the least ground. Carefully controlled and shallow S-turns are another way to use up altitude. If the landing approach is so high that a slip is required it should be noted that some Cessna 150 operations manuals specifically prohibits slips with flaps. The preferred procedure in cases of such gross misjudgment is to go-around and set up the landing from a more appropriate pattern.
Nose Wheel Lands First
Looking too close to the nose can cause you to fly into the ground or cause an instinctive jerk on the yoke before hitting. If you should fly the nose wheel into the runway, GO AROUND. The recovery from the resulting porpoise must be accomplished with application of full power, leveling the aircraft, and slowly removing the flaps in ground effect until speed permits a safe climb. Any attempt to salvage a landing after the first porpoise will probably fail. What happens is that just before the nose wheel hits the yoke is belatedly jerked to raise the nose. The combined rebound caused by the yoke movement and the expansion of the nose strut causes the nose to rise above the horizon and then start to fall just as the yoke is moved forward to prevent the rise. The pilot will always be just enough behind the nose movement to make it worse instead of better. Three such bounces results in severe aircraft damage. GO AROUND.
It takes a string of mistakes to make a ground loop, just as it takes a string of mistakes to make an accident. For a ground loop there will first be a mistake such as drifting sideways, or failing to align with the runway or failing to compensate for crosswind. Ground loops are caused by a sequence of improper control applications. Making a correct control application will prevent a loss of control. An effective way to straighten out the onset of the ground loop is a good blast of power.
A ground loop is a very sharp uncontrolled turn on the ground. It can be
deliberately performed by using the brakes to keep from hitting something. It
can happen accidentally every more abruptly when significant weight is on the
nose wheel. This is called wheel-barrowing. Letting the aircraft swerve is
preliminary to doing a ground loop. When the swerve reaches about 20 degrees
from the direction of movement your aircraft is about to become
uncontrollable. A swerve of only five degrees will exceed the capability of
the average pilot. The ground loop puts severe side loads on the landing gear
and often causes major damage to the gear box below the seats. A 10 degree
swerve or cornering angle, will be enough to turn over most Cessnas given
Most crosswind correction is done with the ailerons and not the rudder. A common mistake is to correct and then overcorrect the initial correction. The over corrections that then follow tend to increase in amplitude. You will finally exceed the limits of control and ground loop.
Strong Headwind Approach
A strong wind right down the runway can present a landing problem. First of all the pattern may be out of shape because not enough crab angle is held on crosswind or base. The higher downwind ground speed requires that things in the cockpit be somewhat faster. If a normal size pattern with standardized procedures is flown under these conditions the aircraft will be too low due to extended downwind and headwind on final. There is no need to be concerned about being too high on final under such conditions. Deliberately make a high approach. Your approach angle can be quite steep due to the reduced ground speed. Your landing roll will be short. This is the potential problem with an easy solution. If you are going to be short use full power while holding approach speed until the aircraft nose visually touches the runway. Diagram the situation using the terms below.
wind velocity 15 Kts+ steeper angle
Failure to keep downwind close will
cause shallow & low approach
Looking Around the Turn
A common mistake in making these descending turns is for the student to attempt to look around the wing during the turn. This is often carried over into making sure the airport is still on the ground during landings. The result of this is usually loss of airspeed control. When you turn your head, descend and turn at the same time, your inner ear sends strange messages. Each individual will sense and react differently, but generally the turn will tighten and airspeed will decrease. Once an area is cleared, prior to a turn, the vision focus must be over the nose. If the nose changes the airspeed changes. If the student is able to anticipate what must be done throughout the procedure a very smooth, slow succession of pressures will keep the airspeed constant. Once level on base or final you will have plenty of time to locate the airport.
Hard Landing (Instructor)
Training, experience, and judgment in combination or separately cause hard landings. The hard landing does more damage to aircraft than to pilots. Judgment errors come when the pilot starts the roundout too soon or flares too high. This mistake is caused by looking too close to the airplane. Fixing the eye to the runway too close to the airplane give an illusion of being lower than you really are. You can't see the runway flatten out as it would in a proper flare with vision focused down the runway. How far down the runway? The distance you would look ahead while driving at the same speed. As the nose rises the runway should disappear and the horizon to each side becomes the visual reference. Without a proper wide view of the horizon over the nose the pilot cannot determine the proper flare attitude that will avoid either the balloon or flat ground contact. Read about how density altitude can cause hard landings and why.
Prevention of hard landings begins with a visual focus down the runway and a peripheral view of the horizon. In the flare you no longer look at the instrument. Instead, you look ahead of the aircraft. You are attending to the landing and nothing else. If the landing is not progressing properly you go-around without hesitation or delay.
The accumulative damage mostly occurs to the nose gear. The oleo strut can survive forever if the landings are on the main gear. When the nose wheel becomes a part of the initial landing contact it becomes life limited. Every compression of the strut loses some air and perhaps oil. If the strut is not cleaned prior to every flight the accumulated oil and dirt act like sandpaper on the 'O' ring.
After a number of nose wheel compression cycles the strut will become flat and knock against the wheel even when taxiing. Every subsequent landing causes the shock of the nose wheel landing to be transmitted into the firewall and the engine mounting. Now, the damage is not just to the gear but in the engine and the aircraft airframe. I have watched someone taking a club 172 and make somewhere between 4 and 6 touch-and-go's. Every one of the 'landings' was flat. Not once was the nose wheel held off the runway for even a moment.
A flare that is made abruptly, too close to the surface, or too fast can cause an immediate 'bounce' off the ground effect and an immediate increase in height above the runway. This is known as ballooning. A companion effect of the balloon is a significant loss of flying speed. The balloon effect can vary in severity. Treat any balloon as an unsalvageable landing. Go around
Unfortunately, the human instinctive reaction is just enough out of time to
only make things worse. The human reaction to all this is to put things right.
The instinctive reaction of lowering the nose will be too late. It will
probably exaggerate the nose drop that is already occurring. So, the pilot
will instinctively pull back. Too late, again. The nose wheel has hit. The
strut has compressed, sprung back, and is sending the nose into the air just
as the yoke comes back again. The second or third time the nose wheel
collapses. The propeller is ruined and the engine damaged. No likely injury to
the pilot. GO AROUND THE FIRST TIME!!
Do not attempt to salvage a balloon. Apply full power, hold the nose level, get close to the surface, make the best possible use of the ground effect's ability to reduce drag, accelerate, clean-up the flaps by milking, and climb only when reaching climb speed. Some of these actions run counter to instinctive human behavior but are essential to a successful recovery. Getting close to the surface is psychologically quite difficult. Bringing off the flaps slowly when your every emotion is to hurry up and get up is difficult. Waiting to climb, with the end of the runway approaching is also contrary to natural instinct.
Keep the Nose Straight-flying (Instructor)
If, during the flare, the C-150's nose is not kept straight with the runway or landing direction, damaging side loads may be applied to the landing gear. Even at slow speeds this can occur. Even though a tricycle gear aircraft may be able to align itself with the direction of motion the damage may already be done. Efforts made to straighten the nose with aileron only, will result in very slow wing high/low turns close to the ground. Use the rudder to keep the nose parallel with the runway, not the ailerons. The Dutch roll teaches this basic skill in using the rudder.
The tendency to land on the left side of the runway center line is caused by the left turning tendency of the aircraft when the nose is raised. Any raising of the nose should be accompanied by an appropriate amount of right rudder pressure. Took me many years to get this into my teaching even though I had overcome the problem myself. My corrections were totally unconscious.Keep the Nose Straight-ground (Instructor)
Either Piper or Cessna aircraft can be landed in such a manner as to avoid initial ground contact of the nose wheel. Any time you are operating near the forward center of gravity range make your landings with a few hundred rpm above idle and be patient during the flare. It works.
The perfect touchdown to a landing is a very satisfying experience and a cause of tremendous emotional release. Students often let the sudden and perhaps hard ground contact move the yoke forward. Keep the yoke held full back and up at ground contact. Directional control on rollout is just as crucial though not as satisfying as the landing. Keep the plane running true. The landing gear geometry of the tricycle landing gear is designed to make the aircraft straighten itself out. Just keep the weight off the nose wheel. If you are not straight on touchdown the sudden jerk and side-load on the landing gear will get your attention and tell you that the airplane does not like side-loading of the landing gear. Runway permitting, do not use brakes until you have lost some speed and retracted the flaps.
Flat Landing to a
One of the most common errors in landing is failure to bring the Yoke back to the full stall point. In this instance the pilot is able to level off quite close to the ground and hold it there. Most students are comfortable if they can see the runway. When the aircraft runs out of ground effect, BANG it drops down flat. This type of landing is hard on the airplane. A porpoise could result. The plane is not as slow as it should be. If the ground shock lurches the student on to the brakes the tires could be damaged. These are only a few of the things that could happen. If you can see the runway, the yoke is not back and up all the way.
If, under the foregoing conditions, yoke pressure is applied forward so as to keep the nose wheel in ground contact, wheel barrowing may occur. This is when aircraft speed and flaps combine to lift the main gear off the ground while yoke pressure holds the nose wheel down. The plane will become instantly uncontrollable and ground loop or worse. Wheelbarrows can be turned very sharply because of their single wheel. When the flat landing is followed by an effort to hold the aircraft on the runway by forward yoke we are creating a wheel-barrowing situation. Where the airplane has close to flying speed and the flaps are still down, The lift may be sufficient to raise the main wheels off the ground. With only the nose wheel touching the airplane can perform as would a wheelbarrow. A sharp uncontrollable damaging turn often results. A pirouette ground loop. This is just another instance where the admonition about moving the yoke only backwards during landings applies.
All aircraft certification and POH landing performance figures are predicated on a dry runway. Pilot error is often blamed incorrectly for landing accidents that occur on wet runways. Runways vary considerably in their construction and design for providing landing aircraft both traction and braking. Runway information related to wet conditions is usually not published or even distributed. The wet runway accident is most likely due to runway deficiency.
Landing on a wet runway requires that the pilot adjust his dry runway landing distance by several factors beyond just the runway length. A crowned runway will not puddle water in the center. The best surface is a grooved and textured concrete such as seen on highways with the large-aggregate asphalt second. You will not see these runways on general aviation fields.
The pilot should plan to make a steep firm landing near the numbers. Any extra altitude, distance, or speed will compound any problems. 10 additional knots can add 2000'. 50' over the threshold will add 1000' a shallow approach will add 1500'.
When tires lock the brakes are not working, only the tires get eaten up. tires with less than 1/16th of grooving showing are not effective in braking or in spin up after initial ground contact. Let it roll.
On Being Ignorant
There is only thing worse that being ignorant to the first degree, and that is being ignorant of ignorance. This second degree of being ignorant and not knowing it is topped by the third degree where just being ignorant and not knowing the depth of the ignorance is a source of pride to be kept and maintained at all costs. (Pick your politician) comes immediately to mind as having built a pyramid to his pride going this route.
Prior to doing landings the student in involved with doing airwork and ground reference. Not commonly mentioned as a desirable and necessary skill is learning where 'level' is. Level is one of the visual cues you must use in landings. With level as a basic visual cue you will begin flying airport patterns and adding other visual cues. You can learn how to tell when you are 1/2 mile from the airport at a 1000 feet. In left patterns you will see the runway referenced to the wing strut or wing. In right patterns the reference will change but be there all the same. Be sure to be consistent with your seat locking position.
It is important that you make your references off the airplane and not off points on the ground. Use your HI and a distant reference to ascertain your parallel flight path to the extension of the runway direction on downwind. The more often you look toward the runway the more likely are you to be shortening your base leg and increasing the associated risks.
How far to extend your downwind past the numbers should not be done by geographical reference since winds and night can make significant differences in extension. One way I use is the distance it takes from the power reduction at the numbers to get to a pre-selected approach speed while holding altitude. I have found that Cessnas decelerate to the proper base-turn point very nicely if abeam the numbers occurs at the same moment as reduction of power without loss of altitude. It is no longer politically correct to mention the 'key position' according to the latest FAA edict, but you are there anyway.
From most pattern altitudes this point allows the sequence of flap applications and trim applications to be included along with the base and final turns with sufficient height to reach the runway. Wind forces are always the variable that must be accounted for by varying the base leg angle from 90-degrees. You can cut the angle toward the threshold if you are low and widen or 'square' your turn if high.
Make your clearing scan to both sides before making any turns. Trim for
hands-off approach speed and check by letting go of the yoke. Fine trim as
necessary. If you make all your pattern turns at 30-degrees and for 90-degrees
you will develop a sensitivity to the sound and performance that will carry
over into strange airports and night flying. The flaps used are determined by
the wind velocity and direction. Normally, landings are made with full flaps
unless otherwise indicated.
For any crosswind, the turn to final is concluded by holding a half of a Dutch roll with low wing into the wind and rudder held to keep the nose parallel to the runway centerline. Initially I want to have some space between the end of the runway and the nose of the aircraft. I use that space to guide me to the decisions needed to make power adjustments. This process will only work if you are capable of keeping a constant airspeed. If still high with all power off, I will enter a slip to lose additional altitude. A pilot with flaps who must slip to a landing has really misjudged his pattern.
Being low gives only one really safe option, add full power while holding approach airspeed. Leave the power on for a few seconds or until the nose touches the runway and then reduce it again to your approach setting. Adding small bursts of power will give the illusion of a correction but usually cause a gradual reduction of airspeed and eventually a behind-the-power-curve arrival. Time to go-around. Leave the salvaging of poor approaches to the 'experts'.
At some point the airport will begin to flatten. It is time to find 'level' and hold it while you look down the length of the runway to the far end. Widen your visual picture to include both sides of the nose and the runway. Cover the end of the runway with the nose while using rudder to keep the nose direction from changing from runway direction. By keeping the runway end covered you will be making initial ground contact with the main landing gear. This holding of the nose in contact with the far end of the runway is done by holding back and up on the yoke. By continuing to hold back AND up after initial contact you will continue to keep the nosewheel off the ground until the elevator loses authority to do otherwise.
The foregoing is not the only way to think of and visualize the flare. It can
also be done relying on your experience in driving a car. Think of it as though you
are going down the runway at highway speeds. From level you keep the aircraft
from touching the runway by holding the nose up and manage the position of the
horizon so that it neither rises nor falls as you gradually increase your yoke
motion to prevent any change. It is o.k. to stop pulling but once you begin to
pull back never go forward. The ideal is to have the yoke all the way back
with the stall warner screaming, touching down and then confirming that the
power is off. In the crosswind you will keep the wing down, keep the nose
straight, and keep the aircraft from drifting to either side. On touchdown the
controls are given full aileron deflection into the wind and the rudder is
used to keep the aircraft tracking straight down the runway
More on Landings
Setting up the Arrival:
1. Plan for a ten minute letdown below 5000'.
2. Rule of Thumb: Figure thousands of feet to reach pattern altitude. Drop the zeros and multiply by 3. This gives you the time needed to lose the altitude at optimum speed, rate, and distance.
3. Always descend toward a checkpoint.
4. A longer 45 entry gives better traffic observation.
5. Plan gear-extension well out.
Entering the Pattern:
1. Use your HI to verify 45 degree entry. Runway number will be on lower left/right of HI.
2. Gear down call on the 45.
3. Unfamiliar, double your downwind distance from airport.
4. Landmark your pattern legs and altitudes.
5. Plan your go-around
6. Itemize your go-around configuration
7. Estimate landing weight and CG position.
Normalize your approach:
1. Accept a first-third of the runway for touchdown.
2. Fly airspeeds.
3. Plan flap configuration.
4. Minimum power for desired descent. Smooth with reductions preferred.
5. Fit pattern to aircraft.
6. Full power to correct being low.
7. Nose movement affects airspeed.
8. Watch space between cowling and runway threshold for stabilized approach.
9. Rudder AND aileron for runway alignment.
10. Expect to go-around as best option.
11. In flare, nose covers end of runway, power off at touchdown. Use rudder.
12. Roll straight, brake and slow before turning.
13. Get well clear of runway before stopping. Clean up aircraft.
Every Landing is
1. Your demonstrated ability is keeping the nose straight and wing down to stop drift.
2. Read the windsock. 15Kts straighten sock. 8Kts give angled droop.
3. The landing is not over in a crosswind until it's over.
4. 30 degrees to runway give half velocity, 60 degrees to runway is 3/4 velocity.
5. If you can't align and stop the drift on the center line, go-around.
6. Controls will vary throughout the approach, flare, touchdown, and rollout.
7. Full aileron deflection during rollout.
1. Required with less than 3000' above 3000' or 30 degrees Celsius.
2. No landing without 150% of requirements.
3. Have and use go-around point. Delayed go-around kills.
4. Use 150% of landing distance to determine go-around point.
5. Concentrate on flying aircraft during go-around.
6. Make first approach a planned go-around.
7. POH is best source of approach airspeed.
8. Leave yourself a OUT.
9. Add another 20% for grass.
10. 5% off for every 100# below gross.
11. Add half of x-wind velocity at 45 degrees.
12. No wind allowance for direct crosswinds.
13. 10Kts of headwind decrease distance 20%.
14. Runway temperature is ten degrees higher than flight temperature for every 2000' of altitude.
Soft-fields Require More
1. Power is slope control for stabilized approach. Trim.
2. Keep constant power for prop-wash over wing.
3. Always with full flaps.
4. Use power during taxi to maintain prop ground clearance. Yoke full back.
5. Add power for soft areas.
1. All turns toward selected field.
2. Be prepared to slip.
3. Practice for glide time and distance.
4. Normal attitude under control at touchdown.
The 1970 FAA on
(Supplementary remarks by Whitt)
Half of all aircraft accidents occur during landings. The major initial factor has to do with poor pattern techniques related to improper wind correction that cause undershoot or overshoot approaches. The undershoot accident occurs when the pilot tries to stretch the glide to reach the threshold rather than adding power. Power is best added in large amounts rather than incrementally. A series of small power additions without trim and airspeed adjustments will lead to a behind-the-power-curve arrival short of the runway with nose excessively high and a tail-first landing. The amount of 'float' available to an aircraft very much depends upon the density of the air, the proximity of the ground and excess airspeed. The first hot day of each year is the time to see some interesting landings by pilots who are expecting wintertime float.
The undershoot approach usually carries far more inertial energy into the accident than does the overshoot. The most common undershoot accident is caused by some form of power loss. Once the loss occurs the instinctive pilot reaction is to hold the nose up using the elevator. If the approach is at the proper Vref for its weight, any raising or holding the nose up will result in a loss of airspeed. Below Vref best glide, any loss of speed will increase the rate of sink and loss of altitude. A significant number of these accidents could be prevented/avoided by pilot awareness of a relatively simple configuration adjustment that is a normal landing no-no. Taking off your flaps will extend and shallow your glide after an initial altitude loss. I teach and practice this at 400' AGL but it will work at even lower altitudes if you maintain your approach speed. What you are doing is taking advantage of the drag reduction available through the use of ground effect. The longer and lower your wings the better it works. You use it to a degree in every landing, knowing how to use it in an emergency is like money in the bank.
The greater the angle of descent the better you will be able to select your point of arrival over the runway. A shallow approach brings you in low over the approach corridor and makes you vulnerable to undershoot, mis-judgment, turbulence or wind shear. On a shallow approach you are far more likely to wind up behind the power curve specifically because you are far more likely to misjudge the approach and require additional power. The shallow approach does not allow altitude nor opportunity to exchange altitude for airspeed. For the unfamiliar, being behind the power curve means that your nose is high, so high that the use of full power is unable to stop the sink rate. Lowering the nose is the only option. During WWII I saw a B-25 on one engine crash under such circumstances.
FAA Key Points
--Know and use appropriate approach speeds for your weight
--Never get below the desired airspeed anywhere in the pattern.
--Get the steepest stabilized glide path you can on final.
--Add full power while maintaining approach airspeed to intercept glide path and do not trim.
--On glide path intercept reduce power to resume stabilized approach.
I have found that the usual pattern errors relate to failure to crab in or out on downwind to compensate for crosswinds, making s series of banks into the runway on downwind and in right traffic, getting too close in on downwind to small (narrow or short) runways. Historically, pilots have used some point on the wing as a guide for getting their proper downwind distance. Holding a properly set heading keeps the downwind where it belongs. Turning from the 45 entry to the downwind for 5000' runways are best made at mid-field; the downwind turn for shorter runways should be made at the departure end. If ever you are aware of turning a close-in base, execute your go around immediately. A steep turn from base to final has killed many pilots.
The instructional process should not teach students to use geographic references for flying the pattern. Those are not transferable to unfamiliar airports. When traffic extends the downwind, you should go to slow flight as soon as you become aware of being #3 to land. The base turn can be made when the aircraft you are to follow is abeam your wing. At a controlled airport you also have the option of saying, " call my base" . Doing this you are passing your PIC prerogatives to ATC as to when to make your base turn.
Ability to control a constant airspeed smoothly is the highest form of flying competence. For every aircraft weight there is a speed called Vref that gives the best approach, flare and touchdown with minimum float. The POH speed is a gross-weight speed. Using the gross-weight speed provides a cushion needed for banking and maneuvering. On short final this excess speed causes 'float'. 'Float" is the time a pilot must extend the flare near the runway surface waiting for the aircraft to be put into its nose-high touchdown attitude. General Aviation aircraft do not have the Vref speed tables available to large aircraft. It is up to the pilot to develop his own aircraft specific Vref tables for aircraft flown. Many pilots have landing problems because they approach with excess speed over that already given in the POH. I will cover Vref computations later on.
Trainers tend to have one speed for every phase of the airport pattern. As the pilot advances in power and complexity the faster speeds are reduced at every phase until the final approach Vref speed. Unfortunately, little general aviation POH's have any reference as to the process of developing a Vref speed table. I had a student question as to the degree of safety that was built into the 60-knot final approach speed of the C-150. At this point in time in my own flying career I demonstrated a C-150 landing to this student at 45 knots. We touched down and stopped on the threshold white paint stripes of an IFR runway. I never did it again because I made the mistake of telling my wife. She reminded me that I once said that I should be twice as careful once I though I knew how to fly.
The airspeeds recommended universally by the FAA, the PTS, and POH is to fly 1.4 Vso until turning final and then 1.3 Vso on final. Encountering turbulence or wind shear requires additional airspeed. Speeds should be stabilized and trimmed for hands off descents once any excess speed has been dissipated. Bank angles are best at 30-degrees. Shallow banks can cause ATC confusion and do not add significantly to safety. A 30-degree bank adds only 15/100s of a G-force to the aircraft. The latest FAA recommendation related to how or when to turn base frowns on the use of the 45-degree 'key' position.
The use of flaps is an integral part of any landing. When wind conditions permit, the landing should be with full flaps. Flap additions should not be made below 200 feet AGL, nor should applied flaps be removed once applied. The best maneuver for mis-applied flaps is the go-around. For every flap change there is a corresponding adjustment in trim. For every power change there is a corresponding adjustment in trim. Failure to trim in both cases will result in both change in pitch and airspeed.
A pilot has only one 'always safe' way to correct being low on the glide path. Full power while maintaining approach speed for only long enough to re-intercept the glide path before returning the power to the stabilized setting. This can be done by holding forward yoke pressure and does not require re-trimming of the aircraft. Small additions of power have an inherent problem of pitching the nose up and slowing the aircraft thus resulting in an increased rate of descent. At some point you will get behind the power curve that requires loss of altitude to regain flying speed. Just adding power without the required forward yoke pressure for interception of the desired glide path will raise the nose, slow down the aircraft, change the heading and potentially increase the rate of descent. Prove this to yourself by setting up a stabilized descent with reduced power and then with hands and feet off the controls, add full power.
Being high offers two intuitive corrections, the first is to add flaps and the second is the reduce power. The third and non-intuitive way to increase your rate of descent is to raise the nose. Slowing down the aircraft below the best glide speed will increase the rate of descent. This effect may not be immediately discerned but it will happen and be effective. A change in any one characteristic of a glide path, be it pitch, power, wind or drag, will require a change in all the others. The pilot must know which changes can be surprises and requiring pre-conditioned response as in wind shear. He must also know ahead of time the trim change required of a flap application to maintain a specified airspeed. The pilot must know what it takes to set and maintain the speed required for the selected glide path. This skill is best practiced at altitude for transferal into the pattern.
With the advent of GPS the availability of an accurate ground speed makes available landing approach charts more functional .
Rate of Descent Chart
Descent AngleGround Speed
------75--- 90--- 100
2.0 --265 --320-- 370
3.0 --395 --480 --555
3.5 --465 --555-- 650
4.0 --530 --635-- 740
4.5-- 595 --715-- 835
-------Rate of Descent
One of the reasons instructors carefully supervise the final approach course flown by student is to assist them in establishing the required visual perception of just what happens between the nose of the aircraft and the threshold of the runway. On any stabilized glide path there is a visual reference point that remains constant.
Normally, this point exists a bit beyond the runway threshold. Toward you the space between the nose and the aim point gradually becomes closed until it disappears under the aircraft. On the far side of the aim point the area flattens out until it too disappears under the nose during flare. The aim point will not be where ground contact is made; rather the aim point is a reference at the end of your glide path.
Any thing on the glide path that moves toward you will eventually pass under you. Should the aim point move away from you it's an indication that you will land short. The pilot should be capable of flying any one of a number of glide paths. If there is an obstacle to avoid before reaching the runway you must plan your configuration, power and pitch to accomplish the mission. The slower you can fly the more seep can be your approach. In a very strong crosswind a no-flap shallow and faster approach may be necessary. There are significantly different situations such as exist in Alaska that require specialized aircraft for the glide path techniques of pilots.
The visual approach slope indicator or VASI is specifically designed for two types of aircraft, very large and small. The lights used are designed to provide a visual representation of a high, normal or low glide path. Obstacle clearance is provided by the normal path. There is a technical FAR violation by any aircraft to fly below the normal glide path indicated by a VASI. There are several other glide path indicators including the PAPI. The AIM contains detailed descriptions of these.
Even the best-flown approach can go awry under the effects of turbulence and wind shear. As with all other approaches in need of being discontinued, the best option in unfavorable conditions is to go-around. Some airports are so situated that frequent turbulence problems exist due to weather buildings, ridges or other aircraft. Again the best reference is the AIM.
The known cause of most inadvertent stalls is the distraction of the pilot away from the present maneuver. The growth of this stall begins with an improperly flown pattern that allows the crosswind to blow the track of the aircraft into the runway. The resulting base leg will be much shorter than usual. There is an associated illusion injected into the situation by a tailwind increased ground speed. The pilot is fooled by peripheral vision into assuming that he is flying too fast in the air because of the apparent speed over the ground so he raises the nose. Then he notices that it is almost too late to turn to final. Fact is, it IS too late. Any turn to final in this situation will require a very abrupt and steep turn. The use of ailerons will be insufficient so bottom rudder is used to increase the rate of turn.
This most likely pattern stall has several names such as 'The Downwind Stall', 'The Base to Final Stall' or the 'Crosswind Stall'. Regardless of the name the result to the FAA training program has been to eliminate spin recovery instruction from the PTS. This spin occurs so close to the ground that recovery is impossible. The transition from stall to spin is so abrupt that the stall warner may not even be activated.
Things That Can Go
Wrong With Landings
A hard landing can be very expensive. The high flare that usually precipitates the hard landing occurs because the pilot has not looked out over the nose of the aircraft during the flare. By not looking far beyond the nose you lose perspective relative to the ground. You can best determine your altitude above the ground both during the flare and afterwards by scanning both sides of the nose cowling with your peripheral vision. Focus ahead of the airplane and put the nose on the far end of the runway. The use of some power during the flare is always helpful during the day but even more so at night where illusions are more likely. Resolve never to go forward on the yoke. Distractions play a part in hard landings. Maintain a 'sterile cockpit' during your landings.
Ballooning is another way to cause a hard landing. In this situation, for whatever reason, you have used the yoke during the flare to clause an increase in altitude during the flare. Causes may be excess speed, too much elevator, too quick elevator or looking down at the approach ground. Whatever the cause the first and best option is always to go-around. Even on a flight test or checkride the use of a go-around is a sign of good judgment. The worst thing an instructor or experience pilot can do is to demonstrate how to 'save' a ballooned flare. Sure it can be done but the most likely scenario is that the inexperienced will react in such a way as to cause oscillations of every increasing impact of the nose wheel to the ground until the gear fails. Unfortunately the FAA, in the past, told how a salvage might be accomplished, I won't.
Other invitations to a hard landing occur from a stretched shallow approach, running out of elevator authority that is aggravated by a forward C.G, Once again the best all-around correction will be a go-around decision made sooner rather than later. Many a student under stress will mistakenly react to a bounced or ballooned landing by choosing to be on the ground rather than in the air. This means he is determined that the aircraft will not become airborne. Holding the yoke firmly forward can accomplish this even though the aircraft has sufficient speed to fly. You can hold the nose wheel on the ground but it is likely that the lift from wing and flaps will raise the main wheels off the ground. You are now a wheelbarrow with only the nosewheel in ground contact and very poor steering geometry. A ground loop will soon follow. Ground loops are very sharp circles on the ground. They are usually violent and often destructive of the aircraft.
It is wise to know that every normal landing consists of only backward and lifting movements of the yoke. It is also proper to stop this movement but never ever move it forward. It takes very little forward movement to bring the nosewheel into ground contact. This compresses the strut and causes an accelerated rebound of the nose just at the time you are pulling back on the yoke. Once this starts, you will always be one second behind the airplane. Go around! The go-around is the only non-destructive option. The only time you will be safer on the ground than in the air is when making a balked (aborted) takeoff.
Some aircraft design (Piper) compounds the loss-of-control problem during crosswind landings by having a direct link between the nosewheel and the rudder. The rudder must be straight before the nosewheel touches to avoid a ground control problem. Of course, in every landing the mains should touch before the nosewheel so there should always be time to straighten the wheel/rudder combination. Holding the nosewheel off the runway as long as possible also prevents the multiplying effect of rudder input.
There are several common misconceptions about crosswind landings. Most common is the 'demonstrated' crosswind capability' of an aircraft. This only means that on the day of certification this was the only wind available. Any trained pilot should be able to make crosswind landings in stronger winds. The standard technique advocated by the FAA is to have the aircraft aligned with the centerline by rudder. Any drift is corrected by a sideslip accomplished by holding one wing low. This means that the normal touchdown will be only on one wheel. On touchdown the yoke is held full over into the wind and back to keep the weight on the mains. Failure to do any of these control inputs in sequence means that damaging side loads may be placed on the landing gear made worse by loss of control. The crosswind limits of an aircraft are determined by the pilot not the aircraft.
ATC has a penchant for talking at just the wrong time. One of those times is just a touchdown. Then ATC comes up with a request that you expedite exiting the runway. Do it only if you can slow straight ahead sufficiently to make a smooth planned exit at a non-damaging speed. Don't shred rubber or scrub a tire while stopping and turning. Slow to taxi speed before you turn. It's your runway until you cross the hold bars.
The FAA has come up with a series of 'points' that will help new and old
pilots to become older.
--Prepare the aircraft and yourself for the landing before entering the pattern.
--Look around to get as much wind information as you can. Use flags, smoke and windsocks.
--Use the radio for Unicom, ATIS, AWOS and traffic awareness.
--Given the choice fly a pattern that gives a headwind not a tailwind on base.
--Always be prepared to go-around.
--Always trim the aircraft for a stabilized approach
--Stay ahead of the airplane by knowing what comes next and next and next.
--Hold backpressure to keep the nosewheel off the ground as long as elevator authority allows.
--Keep your flight path and longitudinal axis parallel to the runway centerline on all landings
--Make a final check of wind conditions on final.
--Stay within you crosswind capabilities in the aircraft you are landing.
--Slow down before turning to clear the runway.
The approach speed from the POH is usually based only on gross weight. This means that any time you are below gross you can fly slower and land shorter. If weight were the only factor this would make it possible to never be surprised by a long landing. If you are landing long and realize it too late to make a safe takeoff you had best put on the brakes, ground loop or whatever to get slowed down before hitting something. You are safer going slow on the ground than hitting the ground while still having flying speed.
Carrying excess speed down to touchdown means that your rollout distance
ration will increase by the square of the ratio of actual speed divided by the
Vref speed. Any extra speed carried into the flare will cause float past your
aim point.V actual = required rollout distance
--A ten-percent increase in speed over the minimum will give a 21% increase in required distance to full stop.
--A ten knot tailwind will double the required distance for landing.
--An ATC request for you to use increased speed with a short landing and an expedited exit may be impossible.
Carrying weight and not carrying weight can cause a long landing. The actual weight of the aircraft determines the Vref or proper 1.3 Vso speed to be used on the approach to touchdown. The lighter the aircraft weight the lower the required speed. Failure to make this adjustment to a slower than POH speed means that you will float further before touchdown and land longer as a result. The low-end of the airspeed indicator white arc is Vso for maximum landing weight with the most unfavorable center of gravity. 1.3 of Vso gives you a safety margin on short final after all maneuvering has been completed.
The POH figures changed the airspeed markings of all aircraft from calibrated airspeed to indicated airspeeds around 1975. The POH for a specific aircraft is the best way to get the correct information for the transition period. Calibrated airspeed is indicated airspeed corrected for instrument installation error. You use calibrated airspeed to calculate the proper approach speed at any landing weight. Then you convert it to indicated airspeed for practical use. Indicated airspeed near the stall has extreme unreliable indications.
Besides speed and weight the following factors affect landing distance:
-- Wind direction and velocity
-- Density altitude
-- Runway slope and surface
-- Runway length
The approach airspeed is the critical factor in the stabilized approach and precision touchdown. The safe final approach speed is 1.3 of the Vso as determined by the Vref adjusted for aircraft weight. Vso is the calibrated power-off stall speed in landing configuration while flying with a forward center of gravity. Vso is not appropriate for twin engine airplanes, with existing strong, gusting winds or when flying surfaces are carrying ice.
The Wind Factor
You should only count a headwind as a factor in decreased landing roll unless it exceeds 10% of your touchdown speed. However, ANY tailwind has the same effect as excess airspeed on touchdown. Tailwinds affect your landing rollout distances by the square of the ratio of the tailwind + you actual touchdown speed over your calculated Vref speed.
(Tailwind + actual speed) squared
(Normal speed )
Headwinds below five knots are considered 'calm'. Rule of thumb for greater than 10% of calibrated touchdown speed is to use .9 minus (headwind over normal touchdown speed) times the POH no-wind roll-out distance equals the new estimated roll-out distance. A 180-degree wind shift right down the runway headwind will more than double the required distance.
The difference between the steady-state wind and the maximum gust should be factored into your 1.3 Vso approach speed. Common procedure is to add half of the gust factor to your approach speed. The more precisely these calculated speeds are flown the greater the safety. This calculation is only to be used on the final approach.
Runway design standards limit runway slope to 2% of its length. This is about 1.2 degrees. Rule of thumb for such airports are always land uphill.
--Determining factor of a downwind takeoff is the wind velocity.
--AF/D references any slopes of 3-degrees or greater as well as runway width.
--Regardless of direction, each 1-percent of grade has a 10-percent effect on aircraft performance.
--In slope conditions you want 200-percent of POH required runway length.
--Runway width increases the potential of illusions.
--Upslope causes a low flat approach due to inherent visual illusions.
--A down slope leads the unaware to stay excessively high on approach.
--Flying a normal pattern procedure based on threshold altitude can overcome illusion problems.
--If a VASI exists fly it.
--Pick a mid-runway point to preplan aborting either takeoff or landing.
--When possible takeoff and land toward lower terrain.
--POH required distance to clear an obstacle can be reduced 5-percent for every 100 pounds below gross.
Density altitude is figured by using the pressure altitude from an altimeter set to 29.92 and reading the outside air temperature. Since density altitude is primarily related to aircraft performance the POH will have tables and charts to determine the performance effects of density altitude. The effect of density altitude is most apparent on takeoff. A high-density altitude means that you will use the same indicated airspeeds but there will be higher true airspeeds. Your landing and takeoff speeds will be greater and require longer runways. The aircraft mixture must be leaned for both landing and takeoff for best engine performance. Add 5% to standard runway requirements for every 1000' of density altitude above standard.
You should set your lean landing mixture at pattern altitude and use it in event of a necessary go-around. Some aircraft may not be capable of making a go around at high-density altitudes. For density altitude takeoffs you should complete your run-up with a full throttle and mixture leaned for most power.
A brake check is or should be common practice before taxiing and before landing. The importance of runway surface exists because of braking. Best is dry concrete and worst is wet clear ice. You should use aerodynamic braking (flaps) until you have lost 25% of your touchdown speed before using your brakes. The best braking occurs just short of a skid. A skid will destroy the tire, increase stopping distance and possibly cause a loss of control. Brakes are most effective when lift (flaps) is minimized and all wheels are on the ground. If a maximum effort is not required, let the aircraft roll until the aircraft can be slowed straight ahead until reaching a turning speed that will not stress the landing gear. Bring up the flaps when you are clear of the runway.
Short runways often have halfway markers. Non-standard VASIs may have touchdown points far beyond the runway threshold. Required flight information for every flight is to know runway length at destination.
The go-around is the best of accident prevention procedures. This is only true if the go-around decision is made early and the procedure properly performed. The major defect of an indecisive go-around is that the pilot will fixate on trying to make a bad approach work out to a good landing. Indecision costs useable runway footage, altitude, and time. The go-around is a normal procedure and best option only if performed in a timely manner. High-density altitude or rising obstacles ahead can make the delayed go-around the wrong decision.
The aircraft must have the available power when required. At some airports an aircraft may not be capable of making the go-around due to a power deficiency. Accidents occur with disturbing frequency after a go-around because the pilot fails to use a checklist for the next approach.
The go-around procedure should be a part of any flight review. The go-around
--Fly the plane
The Go-Around Revisited
--Airline Go-Around Policy: No pride, no pressure, no hesitation, no explanation, no fault.
--"What goes around, gets to come around again."
--Most landing accidents are not serious.
--Most go-around accidents are serious.
--The go-around prediction of difficulty is directly related to the instability of the approach.
--The more stable the approach the better the transition to the go-around can anticipate the variables.
--The go-around is based upon accurate anticipation of what should happen.
--Things that should happen are dependent on the uniformity of the approach to the ideal model.
--If things begin to bother you before the flare, go-around.
--The most difficult go-around is during the flare.
--Failure to utilize ground-effect is a common fault.
--Stay low until you get some GO.
--Go-around accidents come from delayed decisions
--ATC does not expect an aircraft to make a go-around
--A bit fast, at bit high, enough doubt. Go-around.
--Success is determined in the first ten seconds.
--Distraction with non-killer items cannot be allowed.
--Apply power decisively but smoothly. (You did put the prop full forward in the pattern, didn't you)
--Power requires push. Rudder push that is.
--Pitch for Vx and 'milk' up flaps.
--When positive rate of climb occurs retract gear and pitch for Vy.
--Now comes trouble due to lack of pitch control. Keep your eyes outside.
--Only when established in the climb do you trim and clean up the cockpit and aircraft.
--Only when established do you talk and complete takeoff checklist.
--Pitch changes can be minimized by doing gear and flaps simultaneously. Check with POH
There are many different horns, buzzers and bells in complex aircraft. The pilot should become familiar with them and what they mean. There may be several different ways to warn a pilot about his landing gear situation. There may be a throttle warning that occurs below a certain power setting, the warning may be associated with a specific airspeed, or and combination of both. Lowering the landing gear should be a standardized procedure for every pilot. Select and use a specific point on an instrument approach, in the pattern or at an altitude. Set a routine and stick to it. Always visually check the gear and the gear indications when they are first lowered, on base and on final.
Use the POH and checklist. If you have a one-shot gear lowering system be sure to put the gear selector switch down before using your one-shot. A well-performed gear-up emergency landing is likely not to do structural damage sufficient to be called an accident. Be aware that some electrical motors can cycle the gear out of the down position so that shutting down the electrical power may allow the emergency hydraulic pump to hold the gear in a locked position. Know your system.
Taking off with your gear and wheels wet may mean that they will be frozen up at altitude. Cycle the gear once or twice after takeoff to eliminate this possibility.
If you know you have a flat tire there are a few things you can do to make the situation easier to handle. If possible run the fuel out of the tank on the flat tire side. Plan your landing with only one notch of flaps so that you can hold the nose up easier. Use power in the landing and after touchdown. Bring up your flaps on the roll and keep the yoke full over to hold the wheel off as long as possible. If the nosewheel is flat, try shifting weight to the back seat.
Landing on Ice/Water
Use all the aerodynamic braking you can until you have lost as much speed as possible before applying brakes. Skidding is a hazard so all movement must be very slow with even light brake application. Avoid any landing or movement not directly into or from the wind. A plowed runway may have an ice surface coating. Check NOTAMS and use caution.
Dynamic--airplane rides on standing water.
------- Minimum dynamic hydroplaning speed is 9 times the square root of tire pressure in psi. Any landing at
------- higher speed will make hydroplaning more likely to exist and continue beyond the minimum dynamic speed.
Viscous-- Film of moisture covers paint portion of the runway
Reverted, (melted) rubber--Locked tires on wet runway can heat so that slide is a steam/rubber mix.
A long, low shallow final should be avoided at all costs especially at night. On a shallow approach you are unlikely to detect an obstacle in your path. Use the VASI when available and never get below the glide slope.
Night landings are subject to 'atmospheric' visibility restrictions and optical illusions. Be cautious against activating pilot initiated airport light too early. In some areas a low flight over the runway at night is desirable to clear away the nightlife. The human element is the greatest single night accident cause.
The Landing View
Hank...Sit in the plane and practice this while someone lowers the tail.
"Could I one more time ask for your comments?
I have done some very good landings and I was very close to soloing.""
...I have made a few good landings but many more that are not so good. The so-called 'greaser' is not a good landing. The good landing is a solid thump that shows the aircraft is through flying.
"Then one week of high winds, instructor sick and me losing the touch. The cool/cold weather that is now with us gives stronger ground effect."
...We should practice in adverse conditions. Your instructor should suggest someone to continue your program. You should fly more than one type or size of aircraft. Don't let controllable situations break up your training.
"I maintain 65 to 70 KIAS on final, my alignment is good, then I either make a squeaker or I do not pull back enough for a good cushioned landing. I did in the past have a problem of pulling back to much and getting into a climbing attitude. Lord knows I should have this down to a T. 150 landings some of them assisted 29 hours logged."
...Holding an airspeed within five knots is not close enough. There is every reason to have a consistent procedure for adding flaps, using trim, and making power adjustments. A difference of five knots in your approach speed from landing to landing will make considerable difference in your flare, float, and required adjustments. On any given series try to be consistent so that you can know what to do in the flare.
...The over the fence situation requires that you do not look close to the aircraft. Look just to level off and let the aircraft slow down. Ignore the airspeed now. As you round-out hold the aircraft level until you feel a slight elevator feeling, then look at the far end of the runway and cover it with the nose of the aircraft. The ideal landing (rare) occurs when at the moment the yoke is all the way back and up the stall horn goes off and you touch down.
...I would suggest that you try a few landings during which you leave the power on at 1200 rpm. You want to raise the nose so that you cannot see the far end of the runway. Any time you see the end, raise the nose some more. NO JERKS. Every movement of the yoke should be back and up. Put only two fingers under the top horn of the yoke and lift. Do this in the cockpit on the ground and note the difference it makes in the smooth movement.
...To really appreciate the touch required leave the power and 1500 and keep the far end of the runway covered. Makes super soft-field landings.
"I am not getting annoyed with this, but my instructor cannot understand why I cannot be more consistent. We have done many different landing maneuvers, but--I am trimmed properly, it is just the last little pull on the yoke before the wheels settle to the ground."
...A good landing is an act of faith. You must feel, hear, and see that the aircraft is slow and so configured (full flaps) that full back and up will only tilt the plane and not cause it to rise. In any event, pull back and up and keep it there. You may get lucky and have a great landing.
A couple tips on landing.
Assuming that you have the traffic pattern down all right and you're consistent with it then lets talk about the final approach and finally the flare.
By now you know what the nose down attitude should look like, and if it's less than normal than you're too low and need to level out and maybe add power and vice versa. So I teach my students to pick an aim point 500' (Gene says, "Not far enough.") or so down the runway, depending on the length of your runway, and fly the airplane as if you were going to crash into it, of course you won't because you want to live! So look at your aim point and adjust pitch to maintain that, and trim, when the throttle hand isn't adjusting power, trim. Now adjust your power (Gene says, "Pitch sets speed not power.") to obtain your final approach speed. Adjusting your approach path to your aim point is a relationship between throttle and pitch.
Make small adjustments unless you're way off, you should know the RPM setting that will give you the descent angle and airspeed to maintain your aim point. I bet it's around 1700 RPM and I don't even know what airplane you fly. Periodically look at the centerline of the runway, which is the easiest way to determine if you are left or right of centerline.
That's the final approach, to summarize:
- look at your aim point
- look at your airspeed
- look at space between nose and threshold of the runway
repeat over and over and over and over
Note: as you get closer to the runway you can omit looking at space between the nose and threshold of the runway and only look at airspeed and aim point.
Ah, the dreaded flare! When you are able to glide to the runway if the engine quit slowly bring the throttle to idle. Keep your aiming point, you'll get a slight pitch change with the reduction of power. Do you know which
direction and why? Then what you need to do is keep looking at your aiming point till 15-20 feet above the runway, then slowly apply backpressure to the yoke till you're flying straight and level. At the 15-20 foot point
where you started into the flare shift your gaze from your aiming point to about 1/2 the way down the runway and off to the side slightly. Use your peripheral vision too. Hold this attitude till you see the runway rise, or the airplane sinks, however you wish to view it. Then as the airplane sinks, apply more aft elevator pressure till the plane flies level again, repeat until the ground comes up and touches the wheels, or vice versa. :-)
That's the Flare, to summarize;
- aiming point
- runway assured - throttle idle
- 15-20' above, shift gaze and aft elevator pressure to level
- runway rises, aft elevator
- repeat step above
Note: If you balloon during the flare add a touch of power and hold the elevator in position then repeat the last two steps above, do not reduce back pressure on the elevator. If you balloon or drift excessively GO AROUND! No shame in going around.
Note: As you go into the flare you don't need to look inside the cockpit any longer.
That's all there is too it, well I haven't talked about crosswind landings but that's another story.
This is all in the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, mine is with the movers but
it's pretty close though.
Hope this helps.
The Difficult Landings
--There is no end to the variables affecting a landing
--Other wind effects
--Angle of descent
Things to Know
--Learn to read ground track
--Dont takeoff if x-wind is Ό of stall speed.
--Add 20% to takeoff distance for every 5 knots of tailwind
--Soft tires will give 15% increase in takeoff roll.
--Takeoff and landing distances will vary by 30% over book figures.
--Never land with 10 or more knots of tailwind.
--Make practice approaches when having concerns.
--Every 1-degree of slope will make 10% difference in performance
--Obstacle-to-clear distance rises 5% for every 100# up/down of allowable gross.
--POH distance to clear 50 obstacle is given. Subtract ground run distance. Add remainder to original POH 50 figure and you have the figure for a 100 obstacle.
--The POH performance figures are averages.
--Pilot proficiency can always improve averages.
--Learn how to do the "Canyon Turn".
Things to Do
--Stay with the aircraft.
--Leave comprehensive note if you leave aircraft.
--Take the compass, thermometer, shelter material
--Take cell phone, handheld radio, water, matches, first aid items .
The More Difficult Landings
--There is no end to the variables affecting a landing
--Other wind effects
--Angle of descent
Flying Modified C-172s
Of late, (2003) more and more primary instruction is taking place in modified C-172s. The modifications are usually some combination of more horsepower, a tuned exhaust and only 30-degrees of flaps. Little mention is usually made of longer and re-pitched propellers which increase the inherent P-factor of the more powerful engines.
The sum of these modifications is an aircraft that performs differently in critical situations such as takeoff.. An out of trim modified C-172 is likely to become airborne at a much lower airspeed. It will climb at a much higher angle and pull considerably more to the left. Failure to hold a strong right rudder means that yaw is a force to be concerned about at high angles of attack. Landings are likely to be exposed to excessive float, ballooning and high pitch angles if the same approach speed is used for the modified C-172 as for the standard under-powered C-172.
The tuned exhaust system eliminates back pressure in cylinders, allowing a greater volume of combustible mixture to replace exhaust gases. This creates greater engine efficiency and brings the engine up to its full rated horsepower. Conventional exhaust systems impede the flow of exhaust gasses, reducing the torque of aircraft engines so that a 180 horsepower engine might develop no more than 160 or 150 horsepower.
With a tuned exhaust there are exhaust tubes for each cylinder that are equal in length rather than the standard unequal lengths. They all flow flow into a common collector. This allows the engine to breathe at full capacity, saving fuel in the process. Most installations get power increases of up to 23 horsepower. This can mean 150 to 300 fpm increase in climb rate. The engines tend to run quieter and cooler with a tuned exhaust. Feedback from owners has been positive and enthusiastic.
There's no such thing as free horsepower. But the tuned exhaust can
increase the power of getting more exhaust from the engine with less
turbulence. Tuned exhaust systems scavenge an exhaust pulse with the
suction created by the previous outgoing pulse. This effect makes a given
engine more efficient by generating the same power at a lower fuel burn.
The stock Cessna exhaust has four short exhaust tubes going into a common muffler. This fails to efficiently send exhaust from the engine. Unequal lengths of the exhaust tubes send pulses into the muffler where they impact an exhaust pulse that was just left another tube. The opposite forces cause back-pressure to build up in the muffler system Exhaust from one cylinder can impact the exhaust from the other side of the engine. Any disturbing flow affects the exhaust out of the engine and the flow of the fuel/air mixture into the cylinders. The fuel burn for the horsepower will be less due to the better breathing of the engine.
At full power the modified aircraft will use at least a half-gallon per hour more fuel. Plan accordingly and run a series of consumption checks to modify your fueling practices. Power Flow is limited by the standard fixed-pitch propeller. You can expect 5-kt higher indicated airspeed with the standard prop. Re-pitch the propeller to go faster. Runway performance and climb will be significantly higher. Expect a minimum 100 fpm improvement in climb speed. The takeoff will be about four seconds quicker than usual and at least 230 feet less distance and happen at about 35 knots.. All of this with the same standard engine.
. The modified aircraft could lean to peak and slightly beyond before engine roughness occurs, at indicated fuel flow was around 6.7 gph. At full throttle the difference was 2.4 gallons per hour, but we don't recommend aggressive leaning at power settings higher than 75 percent. A tuned exhaust evens out mixture distribution. The plane can redline rpm in cruise. A 3 inch longer and re-pitched propeller is .required to avoid red-lining. Heater performance is o.k. down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Installations may require that a hole in the lower cowl to let a support rod support the muffler and, relocating the gascolator to keep flow away from the exhaust. there is a 3-4# weight addition.
What this means to the pilot is that a completely different method of flying the aircraft is required. More rudder, more anticipation and greater re-trimming as is required in larger aircraft. Even the airspeeds will be significantly different.Return to whittsflying Home Page