We all know the old saying, but what really makes a great landing? We’ve put together a collection of ideas about what makes a great landing from sources online to instructors’ opinions on what makes a good landing. Hopefully, there’s some advice or tips in here which will help you next time your cloud touring.
Practicing really is the short of it. As a student pilot that’s exactly what makes you good enough for your GST and good enough to get your license. So why wouldn’t it also help beyond your license? When there’s a good cross-wind, it’s a good time to practice those cross-wind landings.
Without going beyond your personal limits, use challenging conditions as exactly that. A challenge to be overcome. When you are flying, practice different landing techniques. Here are a few good ones:
- Full flap landings
- One stage flap landings
- Flapless landings
- High approach landings
- Glide approach landings
The more you practice, the more embedded in your mind it becomes. In doing so, you invariably get better at doing it and you get better at recognising new situations and the situations which call for previously practiced techniques.
It’s all in the approach
If you talk to many instructors they’ll tell you the same thing. A good landing is preceded by a good approach. There’s certainly truth in that; if you’re set up for a good landing by a good approach then you are likely going to have a good one. If you have a bad approach, chances are the landing is going to be pretty messy too.
Go flying with others
Once you have your license, you start flying an awful lot by yourself. Which is wonderful, but then you start to miss out on what others with experience can also teach you. Don’t pass up the opportunity to share some flying. When you do share some flying, watch closely what the other pilot does. What techniques do they use? How do they approach certain situations? What do they do differently and why? Every trip into the air offers a new experience and a new opportunity to learn something.
When I was learning to fly the final stages of the approach I found a little tricky. Previously, I had flown a lot in gliders. In a glider, I would perform ‘crabbing’ a lot on cross-wind approaches, we used airbrakes a lot and we landed flat as opposed to nose high. So going from that to using the controls as we do when landing a microlight was somewhat interesting.
Once you have turned finals …
- Yaw (rudder pedals) are used to keep you parallel to the runway.
- Roll (stick left and right) is used to keep you in the middle of the runway.
This can seem a little counter-intuitive when compared to regular flight when we’re always doing the two in sync and with each other. However, when landing, it’s not uncommon for the two to become somewhat more independent of each other depending on the conditions and the wind. For example, landing cross-wind with the wing down method often leaves you with the rudder in one direction to maintain parallel with the runway and the stick the other to keep the wing down and into wind stopping the aircraft from wondering off the centreline. A sort of, mini side slip if you like.
Cross-wind landings are one of my favourites though. The satisfaction you get when you nail a smooth, one wheel landing into wind makes you want to pop your head out the top of the aircraft and say “yeah, that was me, I did that”. We don’t recommend doing that though.
Practicing low hops with an instructor is a great way to practice the hold-off and approach. I can remember being taken to do low hops and the instructor made me simply use the roll component to move the aircraft from one side of the runway extreme to the other while maintaining around 4 foot above the strip. It really opened my eyes as to the behaviour of the aircraft just above the ground. Practicing techniques like that allow you to safely explore what the aircraft can do, boost your confidence and gives you a widened scope of experience and how the aircraft behaves.
Another great way of practicing landings and low hop maneuvers is to get some simulator time. We have an excellent C42 simulator facility that is ideal for doing these sorts of things. Because in the simulator, if you completely cock it up, it’s a lot less embarrassment and a lot less paperwork!
Any more tips?
We’re interested to hear and share your tips for consistently doing great landings. Get in touch, let us know and we can add to this blog.