One of the most challenging parts of flying is the last part – Landing. Since we haven’t left an airplane up there yet, every flight ends with a landing, yet all pilots seem to have “bad days” when it comes to landing. When I get stuck in a bad landing rut, I go back to the fundamentals and try to figure out the root cause.
Here are landing fundamentals that teach and follow for each landing no matter the airplane:
- Fly the right speeds on each leg
Know the speeds for your airplane on each leg of the traffic pattern. For the Bonanza I use 120kts – 110kts on downwind, 95kts on base, 90kts on final, 85kts over the fence, 80kts over the threshold. For the C172 I use something like 85kts downwind, 75kts base, 70 on final, 65kts over the fence, 60kts over the threshold. The right speeds help avoid float, balloons and spending as little time in the “uncomfortable” zone between flying and taxing.
- Raise your eyes and look at the far end of the runway
This is absolutely key for smooth flare. If you don’t shift your eyes and look at the runway right in front of the plane you have no means to judge the height of the plane above the runway. You will likely balloon in the flare due to the ground rush. When I am struggling with my landings this is usually the issue and I will do some pattern work consciously telling myself to raise my eyes and reach for the end of the runway in the flare.
- Fly the pattern the same way every time
If you do something the same way every time you should get the same result. The key to smooth consistent landings is a consistent traffic pattern. Every downwind should use the same power setting, you should put the gear down at the same place, the flaps at the same place. However, like everything in aviation you will have to adjust based on weather conditions, traffic in the pattern, etc. But do your best and ensure that you are making minimal corrections on final.
- Don’t be afraid to go around if its just not right – you need the practice
In the end if it doesn’t feel right, look right, smell right – go around. If you are more than 1/3rd of the way down the runway and the airplane isn’t ready to land – go around. There is no shame in going around and its better than a flat tire, a bent airplane, or worse if you go off the end of the runway. In fact, you probably need the practice going around anyway. I bet you haven’t done a go-around in a year or more – check your logbook.
Do you have any good tips for landing or how you get out of the bad landing rut? Leave them in the comments below!
If you are really stuck, I would love to fly with you to work on your landings. Call or email me today and lets go fly!