Lesson 13: The Secret to Perfect Landings | 06/13/15

Lesson 13 (6/13/15) — C-172 (N811JD)

For whatever reason, during today’s lesson everything started to click.   I’ve been steadily improving my landings with the advice and guidance of my CFI, Bob Smetana, and today they were especially on point.   I’ve also been reading “The Secret to Perfect Landings” by Jason Schappert from MzeroA.com recently and talked to Scott Carson, also from MzeroA.com, about pulling off better landings.   From these sources I’ve picked up numerous tricks for making better landings.   One of the main pieces of information I picked up was that a perfect pattern truly does make a perfect landing.   For me, this meant pretending from the moment I started preflighting the airplane that I was taking my FAA checkride. I did everything as perfectly as possible, not taking any shortcuts or skipping anything.   When I looked back at my GPS flight track (I didn’t get the whole flight because my phone ran out of battery, but I got my first two touch and goes) I saw a visible difference in the pattern; look at my GPS flight track from my last flight and look at it from this one and you will see that my pattern was much more rectangular and tight on today’s flight.   Well, by no coincidence, my landings from today were far better than my landings from last week.   After noticing this I knew that Jason was right when he repeated his favorite phrase over and over in his book: “A perfect landings starts with a perfect pattern”.   I felt like instead of struggling to keep the glide slope after turning final, I was already on the glide slope when I turned and just had to drift down and transition for landing (I have taken the advice of Jason and Scott and removed the word “flare” from my vocabulary and replaced it with “transition to landing”).   With help from my CFI, from information from FAA books, and from information from MzeroA.com, I feel much more in control of my landings.   As a supplement to anything you are using to help your landings now, I would 100% recommend MzeroA’s numerous resources on their website, on youtube, and in their books to any student or private pilot struggling with landings.    But enough with the shameless endorsing, let’s get on with the flight.

This was the flight track from the first two touch and goes – the dot on downwind was when my phone ran out of battery

This was the flight track from the first two touch and goes – the dot on downwind was when my phone ran out of battery

We started out on the ground talking about planning a flight to Allentown for next Sunday (I’ll be videotaping that – I’ll probably get some good shots of big airplanes and of the NYC skyline so check out next week’s post for that).   Then we preflighted and got rolling ASAP to get as much flight time as possible.   I remembered to lean the mixture and keep my yoke in the proper position to counteract the wind when taxiing and we took off on runway four after having a brief altercation with a deer (the ground crew took care of that).   I flew my perfect pattern, as you can see above, and had a few landings that were not too shabby, if I may say so myself.   We did one simulated engine failure (a success) and one more short field touch and go before making our way to Lincoln Park.   My first landing there was a simulated engine failure.   Bob cut the power when we hadn’t even entered the pattern yet at 2500 feet so I was only focused on getting to the runway, not worrying about actually being able to land on the shorter Lincoln Park runway.   I came in on final too high and too fast for Lincoln Park (maybe would have pulled it off at CDW) so we went around.   I most likely would have made the landing (might have gone off the end of the runway and into the grass a bit) if it were a real emergency, but too close to risk on a simulated failure, so no landing for me.   My next landing, however, was really good and we were able to turn off on the second taxiway (the first is at the beginning of the runway), so I was happy with that.  Over all a great lesson, and I will practice the skills I learned on the flight sim at home.   I’m looking forward for my first cross country next Sunday.