A month or so ago when I flew with Len, he said something to me that I tried putting to use this evening. He rattled off a list of things I needed to work on and noted that you can really only improve one on each flight.

My plan was to work on my landings. But more specifically, I wanted to perfect one aspect that I've been fairly inconsistent about in the past. My goal was to get much closer to the right glide slope and make each turn without reference to the altimeter. That's it. Nothing else.

Flying N53893 (my new favorite Citabria) I managed to perform 11 touch-and-go landings in just over an hour. Each time, as I passed abeam the runway numbers on my downwind, I'd pull back the power to idle and setup my glide speed. Then I'd keep an eye on the runway, waiting for the right looking angle before making my base turn. On base, I'd slip to make minor altitude adjustments. Then on final, I'd do my last bit of fine tuning.

The results were pretty good. Only once did I need to use a bit of power. I ended up about 50 feet lower than I wanted to be when I was about 1/3rd of a mile out. All of the other landings required no extra power. I usually found myself using a bit of a slip on final, but had to aggressively slip only twice.

Next time around, I need to work on consistently hitting the same touchdown point. I did a reasonable job of that today but should really move it about 200 feet down the runway. I have a habit of landing shorter than I ought to.

Posted by jzawodn at January 12, 2006 10:23 PM

Reader Comments
# Robert Oschler said:

What a prime study in context and expectations. When I saw the title of this post:

"Fine Tuning Landings: One Thing at a Time"

I thought it was about working on web site "landing" pages!

Anyways, I had a long conversation with a pilot when the power was out here for a week, due to the hurricane. I've always wanted to learn to fly, one of the main reasons for that being how much I dislike airports.

What always stops me is that, to get the level that allows you to fly a jet that would let you do the USA coast to coast, in one shot, is a mountaint of training of time. Worse, you have to be super rich to be able to afford the jet! Heck, the gas would be beyond most mere mortals.

Still someday, a single engine license might be nice. That pilot told me that a single engine Cessna or something can be gotten at a fairly reasonable price, and the expenses won't bankrupt you.

on January 13, 2006 02:41 AM
# Phil Windley said:

Fun stuff. In my Arrow, the goal is to set the manifold pressure at 17" on downwind and leave it alone. I find that I don't practice landings enough when I'm just flying places for breakfast and get out of practice. I went out with an instructor/freind a month or so ago and spent a few hours working on my landings. It was fun to tune them up a little and get the sloppiness out.

on January 13, 2006 06:00 AM
# kevin said:

I am by no means an instructor, but I think when setting up for a landing you stake out your touchdown point while on downwind. I like to shoot for the numbers unless ATC asks for something different(like you were). In an a/c like say a 172 or 152 (or even the higher power champ/citabria) I like to setup a sequence starting by the crossing touchdown point parallel on downwind. First I reduce power to pre carb heat(1950-2100). then comes carb heat and flaps until turning to base (roughly). As I am keeping an eye on other traffic I try to determine my height and airspeed as I come around final. I think looking at the runway can raise the chances of cross control stall (not good)in turns. Then I line my self up, this is where final adjustments come in like last ten of flaps and cutting back to idle (depending on alt and a/s). I may be rusty as my last 30 or so hours of flight was with smaller a/c (no flaps) I will normally slip it in if needed. I can't remember if the citabria recommends to not slip while flaps are down, but I am sure cessna manuals don't recommend combining the two. Of course I think they are very conservative. Just wondering; what are your altitudes at passing numbers and pulling power(agl)? are they timed close together or is it gradual(going to idle and passing #s)? Is it like you're gliding all the way around with small power changes?
Good Luck and I agree consistence is key

on January 13, 2006 05:34 PM
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