Friday, September 20, 2013

Landing Advice

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.


LocalFlightEast said...

and then, just when you think you've got it nailed, your instructor throws in the crosswind and suddenly you forget how to land again!!

DataPilot said...

As a student pilot, I remember being frustrated by my inability to flare the plane at the right moment. My flight instructor reassured me by saying, "Bumpy landings are OK. Just make sure they're on the mains."

It's funny how quickly my landing skills improved once my instructor gave me permission to make "firm" landings. Although, new socks may have worked just as well.

Aviatrix said...

New socks don't work for student pilots. They only work for experienced pilots in a landing slump.

PPL Driver said...

I kept messing up my landings until an instructor asked me what I see when I am landing. I said that all I see is the cowling. He suggested that I purchase a cushion to see over the cowl. Not that I am that small, but the C-152 I was learning in had seats that were not height adjustable; we basically sat on the floor. After getting the cushion, my landings immediately improved. When I get checked out in in a new a/c, I always have this cushion with me in case I run into a LSS (Low Seat Situation).

LocalFlightEast said...

@ PPL Driver
Totally agree with the cushion thing. I am short and require multiple cushions both underneath and behind me. I have specific cushions that I use depending on the plane.
Out of the three I fly , one seat doesn't come up quite so high, so I need the bigger cushion underneath me, one has a seat that doesn't come quite so far forward, that extra 1/4 of an inch makes all the difference!

Yep my landings suffer if I don't have the correct cushions.

D.B. said...

I tell my students that their goal is to fly a constant 3" off the runway surface, and to try NOT to let the wheels touch down. Of course, without power the airplane will slow down, the student will keep pulling the nose up, until the mains touch gently on the runway.

I have had to work on vocabulary, after telling a student to try not to touch down, he added full power and went around.....

Anonymous said...

Went out and bought new socks thinking my landing skills would improve. Drat, oh yeah, forgot I'm not a pilot. Hoped the socks would magically give me skills I could brag about.

LocalFlightEast said...

Perhaps there is a sales opportunity here. Marketing "landing socks" to pilots.

different lengths depending on the size of the plane; bobbly, woolly ones for soft field landings and so on :)

majroj said...

I heard the sock thing between two Huey (helo) drivers. The examinee asked the examiner about them. The examiner said "Yeah, wear them on your hands. Now get in there".

If anyone had a good hot-weather landing video of an old Vulcan bomber (or the Air Force's E-4 on a shorter runway) they'd get the concept of hanging and slowing until it settles gently. Something that large easing to the ground for a very short rollout is like the best magic trick besides babies and fresh bread.

majroj said...

click here

grant said...

"your goal is to stall the airplane right over the runway"

meh... disagree. I'll bet you touch down well before the actual wing stall condition on your current aircraft. I'd suggest that your goal is to touch down in an appropriate attitude at an appropriate airspeed (pre-stall), with the airplane still under full control.