Pilot's Tip of the Week
Judge Every Landing
Featuring Wally Moran
"Okay Wally, we've set ourselves up now to land at the airport. What are some of the key elements that a good airman does as he transitions from the descent to a smooth and successful touchdown?"
"Well the first thing we should be thinking about, Bob, is to pick a spot where we want to land. That may vary from day to day depending on a whole series of factors such as wake turbulence or obstacles or wind or weather. But simply saying I'm going to land and stop before the end of that runway is not professional airmanship. So you need to think about those factors that are going to affect your approach and landing.
You need to pick a spot. And then you need to judge yourself to see how well you did in finding that spot.
Now of course all good airmen make a stable approach. We know that's the secret to a good landing. And we need to make a stable approach. We should be aiming 100 to 200 feet prior to the spot we wish to touch down on because as we know, the airplane is going to float a ways. And we're going to maintain that end point with pitch and power, and keeping the airspeed nice and stable.
If you don't think touching down on a spot is important to professional pilots take a look at where all the tire marks are at any big airport. The airline pilots and military pilots and corporate pilots - they all have an aim point and they have some criteria to touch down plus or minus on that aim point. If they don't, the instructions are a go-around.
Our goal in the course is that silky, smooth touchdown right on the spot on the centerline, and in most of the planes we fly, just a beep of the stall horn just to use up all the energy that we can in the air."
"You talk about power control and, and pitch control. Sometimes we see pilots continuously adjusting power, continuously adjusting pitch. That is the antithesis of a stabilized approach when everything is constantly in motion versus everything being stabilized."
"Indeed. Of course the ideal situation would be a slow reduction of power until finally we cross our touchdown point and close the throttle altogether. That's the ideal. Sometimes wind and turbulence and other factors don't allow it to be quite that smooth, but that's the goal. Again - trying to move our passengers without them even realizing they've left the gate."
Next week's tip: Military operations areas