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.

10. Center that ball.
Letting the skid ball actually skid around wastes altitude and energy unnecessarily, and makes it difficult to maintain a given glideslope. If you’re off-center during turns, the altitude/energy waste is compounded by inaccurate ground tracks that must be rectified, further wasting energy.

11. Correct the crosswind a little early.
Don’t wait until flaring to put a wing down, and center the nose with rudder (side slip into the wind). Have the wind correction already in place before flaring, so you can concentrate on orchestrating the touchdown.

In The Flare

The flare is where the grease gets put on the “grease job.” This is where a thing of aerial beauty smoothly transitions to being a ground-bound vehicle that strives to retain a modicum of grace while begrudgingly giving up flight.

12. The first touchdown is a phony.
The phony touchdown could be visualized as a landing at roughly five feet in the air, where we set the airplane into the attitude and position that will serve as the perch from which we’ll gradually descend to the runway. We want to make this as consistent as possible.

13. We can’t control what we can’t see: Pick a reference in the flare.
While in that sweet spot at about five feet, focus down the runway, looking at both sides several hundred yards out. Don’t look only at the end of the runway. If you look at the end, it has to move a good amount in your vision for the correction required to be visible. If we glance back and forth at the sides, we’re creating a triangle with our vision and can see movements of the airplane more easily. Our peripheral vision will be sweeping from side to side, further helping us with seeing movements.

14. Have definite goals during flare.
Just like we had definite goals in the approach as to how it would be shaped and where it would culminate, the same is true during flare. We want to make the flare and the following landing “pretty,” for lack of a better word. We want it on the main gear, nose high, at minimum speed. And we want to roll with the nose clear of the ground for the early part of the landing roll until we make the decision to put the nose on the ground, rather than letting it fall. Accomplishing those goals requires extreme concentration and “making love” to the airplane: moving it with pressures, not pokes and jabs.

15. The best touchdown is one that’s a gentle touchdown.
The touchdown is the actual “grease job,” and just saying that you should make it gentle is one of those easier-said-than-done things.


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