Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Greasing It On: 20 Tips To Get ’Er Done


It’s all in the details. And in the pilot’s attitude.


We all know "those" kinds of pilots: They never bounce, are always down in the first few hundred feet, and put it on slicker’n a squashed gopher (I dare you). Irritating, aren’t they? But, the truth is that they really aren’t any more talented than we are. What they are, however, is determined to make landings as smooth as they possibly can, and they’ve worked on developing a few techniques that, when applied, make their landings works of art. Now, all we have to do is figure out what those techniques are and how to apply them. With the above in mind, and recognizing that every airplane and every situation calls for slightly different techniques, we’ve come up with what we think are the most important factors in creating our own grease jobs.

Approach Details

We’ve heard it from almost the first time we strapped in on an airplane: "The landing is made in the approach." And although it’s a cliché, as with most clichés, it’s repeated so often because it’s true, so the approach is where the first seeds of our grease job are sown.

1. Plan the approach and fly the plan.
Don’t just reduce the power and start meandering along a vaguely rectangular path that culminates “somewhere” on the runway. Visualize a definite path that ends on a specific spot. Don’t just let the approach happen. Make it happen.

2. Select speed points.
As you visualize the approach, identify specific speeds that you’ll have at specific points. Generally, it’s easier to set up the over-the-threshold speed as you reach your final configuration change and turn final, if not before.

3. Plan the configuration changes.
Don’t throw the gear and/or flaps out at any old time. Plan those the same as you plan the rest of the approach. And do it the same way every time.



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