Wham! Help! Landings stink!

WXGuy

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Does anyone have any advice on improving landings?? I'm just getting started in a Piper Cherokee, and I just can't seem to get my landings right. My problem is primarily on the level-off and flare. No matter what I try I always hit harder than I should. I know that it takes practice, and my instructor says I'm doing well, but I thought that maybe a few of you experienced pilots might have a tip or two. By the way, if anyone has a weather question, I'm a military forecaster and will answer them if I can. Thanks!
 

TWA Dude

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Of course different strategies work for different people, but here's what worked for me. When I used to instruct I had my students practice low approaches followed by flying one foot above the runway, applying the proper crosswind correction. Once they became comfortable flying at one foot, I tricked them by saying, "okay, this time instead of increasing power to 1900 rpm I want you to pulll the power to idle and STILL fly one foot above the runway." Next thing they knew they'd made a beautiful touchdown without even trying to land! That's the whole idea: fly the Cherokee one foot about the runway with constantly increasing back-pressure until viola, touchdown. In other words, you're mentally still flying, not landing.

If it makes you feel any better, it took me about 500 hours untill I could consistantly make passenger-approved landings. Passing a checkride doesn't require a soft touchdown; just meet the PTS and don't sweat the rest.

G'luck
 

guitarflyer

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As you flare, transition your eyes from the point that you've been aiming at on the runway to the far end of the runway.
Try to make your attitude in your flare similar to what it looks like as you're climbing out on take off.

Good luck.
 

OtterFO

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Don't worry about it. I've been slamming airplanes into the runway for more than 10 years, and still manage to keep my job...:D
 

Otto

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Try this....after you've flared the aircraft and it's floating right above the runway, try NOT to land it. That's right...try not to by SLOWLY pulling back on the controls as you lose airspeed (this obviously only works if the throttle is at or near idle). The aircraft will gently touch down. It sounds simple but it really helped me back when I was first learning to fly. Be patient...it's just one of those things that comes along with time. Also remember that after hundreds of hours of flying time, most pilot's 'monkey skills' are about the same...it's your ability to make sound decisions that makes you a good pilot.
 

gump88

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Hey dude,

All of these are good suggestions to help you - except the one about looking at the end of the runway in the flare - that will screw you up.

Try looking about 3 white lines down the runway at all times during the flare (assuming you are not on a grass field). Commonly, the problem associated with learning to land is firguring out where to look for the correct visual cues during the flare. I like the idea of leveling above the runway without touching down. Do your best not to let the plane touch the ground, when it decides to quit flying you will land. I have used that technique when I was flight instructing. Above all my friend, keep at it.....repitition is the key.

Good luck,
gump
 

hawgdriver

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Not true Gump! As soon as you transition to the flare, you should move your eyes to look at the far end of the runway. Why is this? It's like driving a car and staring at the road just in front of your bumper, do you do this? No! You look out ahead and let your peripheral vision recognize the cues better!

There is something missing in this entire conversation, configuration and airspeed. If you come in at the speed of heat, this is going to make the transition to "stop flying" more difficult. Come in on speed and in the proper configuration, i.e. flap setting, whatever your aircraft requires. If you come in steep or drug in, guess what, that makes it all harder. The "good" landing starts with the "good" approach. Be on glidepath (VASI, PLASI, whatever), then make the transition and pull the power!! How many leave the power up in fear of "not flying"? You have to eventually stop this thing, pull the power when landing is assured.

My $.02! :)
 

bobbysamd

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Landings

"guitarflyer" and "hawgdriver" have some good pointers. I can still hear my instructor yelling at me (over our 172's engine - no headsets or intercoms) to transition my glance as I was in the flare. "hawgflyer" is right on about being in the proper landing configuration.

Make sure your final approach speed and configuration is exactly on and STABILIZED early on final and you have your airplane extremely well trimmed. I am sure that for your PA-28 your speed and configuration should be something like 63 knots and full flaps. Make sure you have your good 3-degree glidepath set up. Probably power should be something like 1500 rpm +/- 100 rpm. Get everything set up early. Maintain glidepath with coordinated power and pitch. Select your aimpoint within the first 1/3 of the runway. Then, at the point where the runway seems to be coming up to swallow you, start easing back on elevator slowly and break the glide. Do transition your glance to the end of the runway. As you flare, slowly reduce power to idle. Ease the elevator back and keep the airplane from touching down as you set up the proper nose-high attitude, which is the cowl touching the horizon (the ironic thing about making a good landing is to keep the airplane from "landing"). As you run out of elevator movement on the yoke, the airplane should settle down on the runway softly (yeah, I know, easy for me to say! :) )

Common errors include unstabilized approach and flaring too hard, which makes the airplane balloon.

Get your instructor to let you practice "landing" the airplane at altitude a few times. This is also good approach to landing stall recovery practice. The idea of just flying the airplane a foot or so over the runway is also worth trying.

Try to find this book: "Make Better Landings," by Alan Bramson, ISBN: 0711019525. Great book.

Finally, don't worry about it so much. Sometimes it takes a couple hundred hours of flying before one makes good landings consistently. My instructor always said to come back to him after accumulating 200 hours and he'd really teach me how to land.

Good luck with your training.

I wanted to add that there is plenty of great advice here. Take all of it in and you'll benefit.
 
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starchkr

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Landings huh?

Best way to a smooth landing is to only take credit for the good ones, and blame your f/o for the others. :)

I agree with above though, hold it off until it will not fly anymore. This theory changes with different aircraft types however. For example, the single commander is an aircraft that you do not want to flare, or pull the nose up, as it gets slower for landing. Flare that airplane and you have a tail strike, land it flat and enjoy the landing... it also helps with the trailing link gear.
 

gump88

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Hawg,

In my 19 years of experience what I said is true. But Im sure that you can land your A10 just fine. Lets see.....2500 hours????huh???

LMFAO
gump:mad:
 

TurboS7

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:) All I can add after all of the above, you have to get your "butt hairs" trained and fine tuned. That takes time so be patient, the secret is to have the wheels no going up and not going down at the precise instant the wheel touch mother earth. Then of course you have to keep them there. Enjoy the process. Happy flying.
 

WXGuy

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Thanks!

Thanks a bunch for all the replies. I've got another lesson today, and I'll keep your advice in mind. It even looks like the winds are going to cooperate today, so I won't be fighting a 10kt crosswind :). I'll let you know how it goes. Let's roll!
 

Timebuilder

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Okay. The secret to consistently good landings is consistency, and by that I mean a STABILIZED approach.

Fly the pattern the same way each time. Although my students fly Skyhawks, most of this will apply to you. If you are flying a Cherokee 140, or a 160 or 180, which all have a shorter wing, you may have to hold some power in at the beginning of the flare. The 140 is a notorious hard lander, and the extra power will help keep the mains from coming up through the wings.

Abeam the numbers, apply carb heat, reduce throttle to 1700 (in the Cherokee, 15 or 1600), and in a Skyhawk, apply the first notch of flaps at or below 110kts. Slow to the white arc for the Pipers. Descend at about 400fpm straight ahead until you are just before the 45-degree point to the runway, and maintain the 400 fpm limit until you roll out on base. This will give you the correct speed for deploying the second notch of flaps, just about 5 kts into the white arc. Now you can vary power and rate of descent as necessary to to adjust altitude and airspeed.

Correct your altitude for final approach while you are still on base. In other words, look ahead and ask yourself if your altitude is correct, and if not, make small corrections SOONER instead of large corrections LATER. I like to see my C172 students at about 70 knots at this point, and this should work for you, too.

KEEP THE BALL IN THE MIDDLE DURING THE BASE TO FINAL TURN.

Now you've turned from base to final. You already have two notches of flaps set, and you are monitoring your airspeed to be certain that you don't exceed flap range (the white arc).
You need to be flying towards an AIM POINT on the runway. This is a reference point, such as the second dash, or white line, after the numbers. Notice where that aim point appears on the windshield. If the aim point rises or falls in the windshield, you need to adjust to put the aim point back on the spot where it belongs.

Now you are flying along a STRAIGHT LINE from your base turn all the way down to your aim point. When you have the runway "made", meaning you would have no trouble reaching the runway if the engine were to quit, you can deploy your last notch of flaps (don't use 40 degrees of flaps on those old skyhawks, stick with 30 degrees) and lower the nose a few more degrees, since that last notch of flaps will change your angle a little.

As you pass over the runway threshold, pull your power to idle to a count of three. When you do this, the nose will try to fall. Don't let it. Increase your backpressure and keep flying right down to the aim point. As you get close to the aim point, raise the nose SLIGHTLY, as the aim point passes beneath the airplane.

Now, imagine that the airplane has no nose wheel (assuming you are in a tricycle gear airplane) and you must keep the nose off of the runway to keep the prop away from the asphalt.

That little bump you feel is the mains touching down quietly, followed by the nose wheel a second or two later.

If you have any more trouble, send me a private.
 

mattjenna

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Maybe you'd be better off changing your username to CFIguru than timebuilder? Perhaps a better reflection of your position?:D
 

hawgdriver

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gump88 said:
Hawg,

In my 19 years of experience what I said is true. But Im sure that you can land your A10 just fine. Lets see.....2500 hours????huh???

LMFAO
gump:mad:
Forest,

Well, I can say my measly 2500 hours are "flown" and not twittling thumbs waiting to turn the next knob!

Just playinwitchya man, no sparring here, I save that for Mark! :)
 

mattjenna

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Yeah-don't get into the I've got more hours than you tongue out cr@p. Plenty of incomp. high hour pilots and comp. lower hour pilots.

No doubt you're both high calibre professionals.;)
 

gump88

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WxGuy,

One more thought about the "looking at the far end of the runway" theory. The next time you are driving your car, pay attention to the distance you are looking ahead. That is about the right distance you should be looking ahead of the aircraft during landing. Of course your eyes will be constantly scanning and not "starring" at any one point but the majority of your attention should be at the above mentioned distance. Focussing your eyes to the far end of the runway will cause a late flare or no flare at all and possibly a nose first landing----not a good thing. Of course I am assuming that airspeed and configuration are correct and the approach is stable.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

gump
 

empenage

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WXGuy:

The above posts are very good and you should try them. Remember as you slow down to your approach speed the airflow over the wings will also slow down requiring more control input to keep the aircraft where "you" want it. Don't let the airplane fly you around. It takes allot of concentration to keep the aircraft a foot above the runway so don't let it move around. Keep it where you want it! The 140 will float (that big fat wing in ground effect) a little before it stalls and remember it wont land untill it stalls. Ahh...timing. Stick with it. Don't rush the landing. If you can get consistantly smooth landings you will be able to do the same thing with a Citation.

P.S. Don't forget what your feet are for.
 

puddlejumper

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Here are a couple things that seem to have helped my students in the past: Once you've got your stabilized approach happening with your aim point staying steady in the windshield and your power set, let go of the yoke. The point here is that if the airplane is not trimmed properly, you'll find that you're constantly fighting with the controls. Trim it out and let the stability and inertia of the airplane help you.

Secondly, keep in mind the grip you have on the yoke. I used to joke with my students that they would be strangling the yoke and the reflection of their white knuckles off the instruments was blinding me. :) The airplane's feedback to you as the pilot is a very important part of making a nice landing. With proper trimming and a light touch, the flare and touchdown can be a pleasantly consistent thing.

By the way, I've only got a few hours in Citations, but I don't believe that jets are full-stalled at touchdown. I know for sure that King Airs are not. It would be very disconcerting to get a stick-shaker or even pusher when you're about to land. I may be wrong on that though.

Good luck and keep practicing.
 
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