Did You Forget How to Land an Airplane?

Any pilot with a few years experience can tell you that good landings come and go. Your landings may be picture-perfect every time, but then you suddenly find yourself in a dry spell. You can’t nail the landing to save your life. It doesn’t matter if you fly every day for a living or if you’re the valiant weekend warrior: we all struggle with this. At times like these, it’s time to get back to basics.

Before we begin, it’s important to understand just what constitutes a good landing. Is it all about a smooth touchdown? Hardly. I’m more concerned about landing in the proper pitch-attitude at the intended landing point. For light airplanes, my criteria is as follows:

  • Proper pitch (main wheels touch down first)
  • On runway centerline
  • +100/-0 feet from intended landing point
  • Proper crosswind technique with no landing gear sideload

Admittedly, we all bust these criteria at times. But if you find yourself consistently outside the margins of a “good” landing, then it may be time to re-educate yourself on the basics.

Remember those days as a student pilot. Your instructor broke every maneuver into simple bite-sized steps for you to execute. Now that you’re a pro, those steps may be long forgotten. If you want to do a steep turn, you simply do a steep turn! And when it comes to landing, you simply land the plane. It’s easy and there’s almost no thought involved.

Herein lies the problem. By not thinking about the landing, you are actually forgetting how to land.

Try talking through the steps to landing the airplane. Are you right on speed crossing the threshold? Did you remember to transition your eyes towards the end of the runway? Do you flare too early or too late? It’s troubleshooting like this that can help you get back on track to making stellar landings each time.

If you still can’t figure it out, grab your favorite flight instructor and ask for help. That’s what they’re there for!

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About the author
Pat Flannigan is a professional pilot and aviation blogger. He has been flying for fifteen years and is currently working as an airline pilot in the United States.

One Reply to Did You Forget How to Land an Airplane?

  1. Tony (NozeDive) says:

    Great article. This is advice every aviator should take to heart.

    Blue skies and tail winds!

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