Landing Attitude, Dude (or Dudette)

February 5, 2014 by Bruce Landsberg

nyc-nose-gear-collapseWords 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…

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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  • Tom Harnish

    I’ve tried, with some success, teaching students to land by having them fly progressively lower and slower over the airport, first at slow cruise then at approach speed.

    It helps them get over ground fright, and helps them get the sight picture before they also have to deal with all the other things that go into make a good landing.

    After a couple passes I ask them to try to gently touch the runway a few times before going around. Following that, I ask them to chop the throttle the first time the wheels touch on the next pass, and hold the nose up.

    Ta-dah, they made their first landing without trauma, slowly and under control, and they’ve learned that going around isn’t a big deal, handled properly.

    Airspeed control is what makes it all work, of course, and that’s a valuable skill that will serve them well the rest of their flying career.

  • Jimmy Gist

    TRIM TRIM TRIM…makes life good in ALL phases of flight!

  • Dan Vandermeer

    Just a word of caution here. At speeds near take off and landing control can get difficult very quickly on the ground. High speed taxiing is very common in conventional gear training and as the blog suggests has potential benefits in teaching landings in nose wheel aircraft. I’m sure almost every CFI recognizes the risk. But having had some very exciting moments alone at high speeds on the runway, I just wanted to state the obvious.

  • Rodney Dangerfield

    I think the corporation here could use some training: