SOME THOUGHTS ON LANDINGS (Acknowledgements: Air Facts)

Larry Baum says: “I was TERRIBLE at landings. I either stalled the plane at three to five feet (or more) above the runway or drove right into it. My airspeed control was marginal. My sight picture was non-existent. I was always in a hurry to land. I had no patience. Crosswinds were a total mystery to me. The plane was flying me, not the other way around. Fly the airplane–don’t let it fly you.

I went through three different instructors to try to figure it out. Nothing was working. I was ready to solo, but I couldn’t get signed off, because I couldn’t land. One day my original instructor let me drop it in from about six feet. The landing gear did fine but I cracked the left rear window right by the air vent. The crack was less than one inch long and non-structural. “That’s it!” I thought, “My flying days are over!”

As we taxied off the runway, I started heading to the ramp when my instructor suggested we try one more takeoff and landing. All he said to me was: “Fly the airplane. Don’t let the airplane fly you.” To my complete amazement, the next landing I made was fine. So was the next one, and the next one. It all came together, and week later I soloed.

I can’t describe everything I do when landing, but I create a picture in my head of what my airplane looks like when it touches down, and in every situation the thought always comes flooding back – Fly the airplane! Don’t let the airplane fly you! Do whatever you have to do to put the airplane into that landing attitude over the centreline and aligned just before touchdown. Work the controls, all the controls, to get the plane into that landing attitude right where you want it. I never think about the approach I made, or my passengers, or what I’m going to do after I land – just what I see in front of me. If I don’t like it what I see I can always go around!

There are three ways to get good and stay good at landings. PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE.
  • Go up with instructors on good days, bad days, blustery days, rainy days.
  • With an instructor, go looking for crosswinds. I’ve gone to airports with cross runways just to practice on the runway with the crosswind.
  • Learn to do spot landings. Pick the 1000 ft. marker. Practice until you can touch down there every time. Then pick another spot–the numbers or 2000 ft. marker. Pick a different runway.
  • Same for landing on wide runways and narrow ones. I spent a few hours practicing landings and take-offs on a 3400’ x 75’ and then on a 3000’x50’ runway with good approaches.
  • Fly with others who are good at landings. Ask them questions about their landing techniques…what works, what are they looking at, how they deal with crosswinds, etc. I’ve learned a lot about landing by flying with others.
  • Once the airplane is in the hangar, think about your landings. What went well and what could have been done better. Consider scoring your own landings.
  • Ask about what you don’t know or aren’t sure of. There are no stupid questions, just people who are too proud to ask them.
  • You are only as good as your next landing. Be humble”

Tony BirthComment