I received e-mail from a student pilot today, and it put a big smile on my face. He said:
Wow ! what fantastic advice !!!
You must be one great teacher… !
I didn't even remember giving him advice. Probably a quick e-mail answer dashed off while waiting for a fuel truck. He had asked me in asterisk-studded angst ***Why can't I get the hang of landings?*** What did I tell him?
Don't worry about the landings. Almost everyone feels they aren't getting it at first, but eventually it clicks.
1. Work on the approach just as hard as the landing. Make sure you get to the beginning of the runway at the right speed and altitude, and properly TRIMMED. If you're not trimmed, speed control is difficult, so it is difficult to be consistent, and then the flare becomes more difficult. Remember to use POWER for altitude, PITCH for speed and RUDDER for direction.
2. Pay particular attention to where your flight instructor tells you to LOOK, and look in the same place while your instructor is landing as when you land, so you get the whole picture.
3. When you think the airplane is just about to land, pull back a tiny bit more. Pilots don't land airplanes, airplanes land themselves. Your job is to keep it from crashing until it runs out of speed and has to land. The slower the airplane is going, the more you have to pull to get the same change in pitch.
Remember that you are in slow flight during the flare, and your goal is to stall the airplane right over the runway. That's why your instructor had you practice aircraft control in slow flight and in the stall.
Be patient with yourself and with the airplane. Eventually you will get it.
The student can land now. It seems that trimming properly for the approach did the trick. But I felt that I should warn him that there are ups and downs in landing, so I added.
You will have landing slumps, where all if a sudden although your landings are safe, they just aren't all that great any more. The best solution to that is to buy new socks. It's your socks' fault, I swear.
There is some possibility that the first advice I gave him is more accurate than the second. But it's always nice to have new socks.