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Pilot Decision Making


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Decision Making – The Perfect Landing

Landings can be classified similarly to the old movie theme … the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is always entertaining (and scary sometimes) to watch landings at PAO and SQL. Many pilots have mastered landings even in challenging windy conditions and still others are on the lifetime journey to make a perfect landing. How can we make sure that our landings are in the good category? Several veteran pilots suggest the following;

1)     Fly a perfect traffic pattern and configure the aircraft for landing (speed, power, mixture, gear, flaps, etc.)

2)     Establish (and maintain) a constant (minimum) descent rate for a stabilized approach.

3)     Carry some power similar to a soft field landing.

4)     Control airspeed + - 3 knots of the recommended approach speed.

5)     Trim the aircraft for airspeed in 4).

6)     Know your aircraft and its’ flight characteristics during the approach and landing flair.

7)     Aim for the second runway centerline stripe.

8)     Be ready to add power for a go-around if any items 1) through 7) fall apart.

Analyze each of your landings for the good, and avoid the bad and the ugly. Go practice!