Words often get in the way of explanations. This is especially true between students and CFIs. The video and picture here demonstrate that the problem sometimes migrates a bit farther up the pilot certificate food chain. It’s quite good, actually, to learn the basics of landing before moving on to larger aircraft.
Learning to land is one of those complex things where no two landings are exactly alike, and sometimes instructors toss off explanations like, “Just assume the landing attitude, dude (or dudette), and touch down on the mains.”
Like many things (but especially landings), stuff happens fast.
CFI: “Did you see that? That’s exactly what I’m talking about!”
Student: “Whah, huh?”
CFI: “Pay attention this time,” etc.
So let’s slow things down a bit, and here’s one technique that might help. Try a high speed taxi down a long runway. CFI controls throttle so the aircraft doesn’t lift off, student manages pitch attitude (after CFI demonstrates) such that nose wheel is properly clear of the runway. (Note: not recommended in an Airbus or Boeing—they have simulators to help with that.)
There’s also the issue of where to look because peering over the nose, even if you could, isn’t going to yield that all-important depth perception between a kiss-down and a butt-buster. You’ve got to look slightly off to the left or right, depending on which seat you’re sitting in.
To learn more about our attitude towards takeoffs and landings, click here to download the Air Safety Institute’s Mastering Takeoffs and Landings Safety Advisor.
Landings are consistently the leading cause of mishaps. Usually they don’t result in fatalities, but we could save a lot of time, money, and aggravation by having the right attitude. I’m still working on mine—every touchdown!
Perhaps you have some observations…