Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

30 Things Not To Do In The Pattern

A how-to guide that guarantees lousy landings

17 Put flaps down at different points on downwind, when beginning the approach. Truth is that within certain limitations, where the flaps are started down isn't super critical. However, whatever your favorite flap style, use it every time, and do it in a manner befitting the airplane and situation. A good approach is built on consistency.

18 Put down different amounts of flap to begin the approach. Although there are specific types of approaches where we may want to put more flaps down than usual, on "normal" landings, we should put the same amount of flap every time and in the same place.

19 Neglect to use a specific point on the runway as the place to make downwind power reductions. Again, under the heading of "consistency," use the threshold as a readily identifiable point to make the first power and configuration changes. This kind of consistency always pays dividends.

20 Buzz the tower if the controller is holding a cup of coffee. Top Gun's Maverick and Goose can get by with these kinds of high-jinks, but not the rest of us mere mortals.

21 Ignore POH approach speed. Faster is always better. Faster is never better (except in specific conditions). Besides, the factory spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in flight testing to determine the proper POH approach speed, so use it.
Towers don't like surprises, not to mention that it's illegal to enter their airspace without calling them first. They need to sequence you in with other traffic and need as much forewarning as possible.
22 Neglect to worry about nose attitude, and just chase the airspeed needle. Immediately moving the nose and chasing the airspeed needle will cause immeasurable heartburn. Reset the nose attitude, let it stabilize, then check the airspeed and adjust attitude, if necessary.

23 Ignore flap speeds: They can't be damaged so throw them out at any speed. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Flaps have very specific operation speeds for each degree of deflection which should be strictly adhered to.

24 Neglect to worry about speed. As long as speed is in the green arc, you're okay. Go back and read #21 about the correct POH speed. The airplane changes characteristics drastically the further you get from that speed, and the green arc only tells you where the airplane stops flying, not how well it's flying just before that point is reached.


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