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Old April 22nd, 2008, 09:54 AM   #1
Williammbl
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172 Landing Technique

flying a cessna 172m 1974 skyhawk, need help with landing such as height at roundout,what to look for in float, and when to flare, plus what I should be looking at in flare, any help would be appreciated. williammbl
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 08:53 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

We can write a bunch of stuff--but it's not worth much. The fix for this is time in the airplane, time with a good instructor, and realizing that you can't over think it. If you start thinking about the height that you should flare--you're not flying the plane.

Really it is all about learning the visual cues along with the feel for the airplanes energy. Keep practicing and one day it will click.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 09:08 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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Originally Posted by jesse View Post
We can write a bunch of stuff--but it's not worth much. The fix for this is time in the airplane, time with a good instructor, and realizing that you can't over think it. If you start thinking about the height that you should flare--you're not flying the plane.

Really it is all about learning the visual cues along with the feel for the airplanes energy. Keep practicing and one day it will click.
Agreed...

And a good instructor will make sure you know and nail the airspeeds.

Get a 172 stabilized at the right airspeed on short final and it's hard not to land well.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 09:10 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

Go to www.BetterLandings.com and sign up for the free "Top Five Landing Mistakes". You might find some enlightenment therein. You get 'em in your email.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 09:39 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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Originally Posted by Williammbl View Post
flying a cessna 172m 1974 skyhawk, need help with landing such as height at roundout,what to look for in float, and when to flare, plus what I should be looking at in flare, any help would be appreciated. williammbl
Are you not understanding what your CFI is telling you? This kind of stuff is awfully difficult to "teach" over a message board.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 10:13 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

As Jesse noted, you're training your brain to respond to visual cues, and repetition is the way that's done. Keep at it and you'll go from "all over the place" to "usually close" to "consistently safe" to "normally very good". My daughter went through the same process learning to draw (she's 5) and at some point the fine motor control just kicked in literally overnight. So be persistent and I promise it WILL get better.

Nobody ever gets "always great" when it comes to landings, except liars.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 12:06 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

The main problem I had with landings starting out was not looking down the runway far enough. Try "sighting in" the far end of the runway as you start your flare and see if that helps. Getting familiar with a sight picture that works for you takes practice but it will help make your landings more consistent.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 12:22 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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The main problem I had with landings starting out was not looking down the runway far enough. Try "sighting in" the far end of the runway as you start your flare and see if that helps. Getting familiar with a sight picture that works for you takes practice but it will help make your landings more consistent.
I actually found night landings helped a lot. During the day, pilots tend to focus on the runway markings up close be they the numbers or the 500 foot markers or the thousand-foot markers.

During the night, you don't see the markings until right up on them when still nose down and the landing light is pointed toward the runway. Instead, you tend to find yourself looking down the runway, focusing more on the line of runway edge lights.

After a few finely tuned landings at night, you'll see how important it is to look down the runway. After that, it's just as Jesse stated. Or to put it in simpler terms, it's pretty much by the "seat of the pants." You're going to make adjustments throughout an approach and landing to fit the scenario be it varying wind speed or varying crosswind.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

What Jesse said and speed control. Far too often people land going far too fast.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 07:35 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

As noted by others, it's hard to teach you how to make good landings other than from the right seat of the plane you're flying. However, the two biggest problems I've seen in landings over the years are 1) too much airspeed on final, and 2) not actively flying the plane all the way until it's stopped.

For a 1974 172M (with mph primary on the airspeed indicator), final approach speed should be somewhere around 70 mph for normal, full-flap landings at max weight, decreasing to around 65 mph at "training" weights (two aboard, partial fuel). More speed than that will make the airplane more sensitive in pitch during the flare as well as requiring more time in the flare to dissipate the extra speed before touching down in a proper tail-low, main-wheels-first landing attitude.

The issue of flying it all the way is driven by the fact that the aerodynamic forces on the plane continue to change as it decelerates from approach speed to touchdown speed, and that the attitude of the plane is constantly changing through the flare. This is compounded by every little change in the wind during that time. As a result, the amount of control pressure and the control positions in all three axes (pitch, roll, and yaw) are constantly changing, which means you have to keep moving all three controls (elevator, aileron, and rudder) all the time. I've seen too many folks get the plane in the flare and then just hold the controls in one place while the airplane goes drifting off to one side, or the nose drifts left/right, or the airplane balloons, or the nose drops.

If you get the plane on the right speed, and aggressively fly it all the way through touchdown and roll-out, you'll probably find your landings improve.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 08:19 AM
Posted in reply to TMetzinger's post "Re: 172 Landing Technique"
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
...My daughter went through the same process learning to draw (she's 5) and at some point the fine motor control just kicked in literally overnight.

Wow, I'm almost 30 and my drawing ability still hasn't kicked in
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 09:08 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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Agreed...
Ditto. I remember becoming so frustrated during my primary training that after one particularly bad lesson full of bang and gos that when my wife asked me how it went, I answered "It is not possible for anyone to land an airplane, period!" I was serious at the time.

But the technique comes with good instruction and plenty of dual practice. It's just like how you get to Carnegie Hall. Keep at it.

-Skip
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 09:38 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

Yes, as everybody's said, all it takes is time. I had the same concerns as you during my training, and one day I finally got it.

Now, as you learn, your instructor will (hopefully) give you tips and suggestions and offer constructive criticism. Listen to what he/she suggests and try it for your next landing, but as you get more comfortable, keep in mind that the techniques he suggests may not be right for you. You will develop what works for you over time.

Happy Landings!
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 10:17 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

This may help. -Skip
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 11:40 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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Originally Posted by Williammbl View Post
flying a cessna 172m 1974 skyhawk, need help with landing such as height at roundout,what to look for in float, and when to flare, plus what I should be looking at in flare, any help would be appreciated. williammbl
Taxi around for half an hour so you get used to the height sight. Do some high speed taxiing (say 40kts in a 172) all the way down the runway holding the nose off the ground. Do it several times so the sight picture burns in. You always look forward, and just use the periferal cues to the side. If you look to the side, you will go to the side. Always look where you want to go.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 12:21 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

I agree with everything said so far (especially Charles Schultz). The main thing that will help is experience with a good instructor.

That won't stop me from wasting bandwidth though.

I would expand on Ron's post and say:

Be stabilized in your descent well before the fence. I've seen many students taught to add the final notch of flaps as you cross the fence and "have the runway made". Humbug! That means your fighting to get stabilized during the busiest part of the landing. Be in your landing configuration well before that and adjust your altitude to have the runway made well before you cross the fence.

The constantly changing aerodynamic forces Ron mentioned is the major reason landings are so hard. My suggestion is to concentrate on what the airplane is doing and not on what control inputs you need. If it drifts left use the ailerons to fix it, if it yaws use the rudders, get into your landing attitude and use the elevators to keep it there. All sorts of things mean you will be constantly adjusting the controls but the position, direction and pitch attitude will be very consistent.

Joe
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
The main problem I had with landings starting out was not looking down the runway far enough. Try "sighting in" the far end of the runway as you start your flare and see if that helps. Getting familiar with a sight picture that works for you takes practice but it will help make your landings more consistent.
Ditto- the most useful instruction I ever received... and it works with any airplane, on any runway, for any kind of landing.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 06:16 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Areeda View Post
Be stabilized in your descent well before the fence. I've seen many students taught to add the final notch of flaps as you cross the fence and "have the runway made". Humbug! That means your fighting to get stabilized during the busiest part of the landing. Be in your landing configuration well before that and adjust your altitude to have the runway made well before you cross the fence.
Exactly.

In complex airplanes (such as Bonanzas), I've changed my approach to having all configuration changes complete on turn to final.

If you're so far out that you have to drag it in with full flaps, you need to turn to base sooner.

This provides those few extra brain cycles required to get the windshear/ wind shift accomodated. A final GUMPS right after that turn from base to final and then concentrate on landing.

Pete Peeve -- complex drivers doing GUMPS 100 feet off the deck, or in the flare (yeah, I've seen it).
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 09:11 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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This may help. -Skip


But, there's actually something to that! People tend to over-think their actions rather than just practice needing to be tuned in to what corrections or changes are needed for any given scenario.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 11:10 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

thanks folks, I really appreciate all the good tips, this ia a great site. Bill
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Old April 24th, 2008, 01:51 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

Bill,
We really do want to help. It's just that some questions really do need an instructor there in the plane with you! And I'll agree with some of the posters. After you get to the flare, look to the other end of the runway!
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Old April 25th, 2008, 07:46 PM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

I agree with all but i found that the learning really began when I no longer had a Cfi sitting next to me. Dual instruction is great but I learned a lot more about myself and the plane when I was solo. Just practice and itcwill click just like anything else.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 09:11 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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Originally Posted by Areeda View Post
Be stabilized in your descent well before the fence. I've seen many students taught to add the final notch of flaps as you cross the fence and "have the runway made". Humbug! That means your fighting to get stabilized during the busiest part of the landing. Be in your landing configuration well before that and adjust your altitude to have the runway made well before you cross the fence.

Joe
Now, Joe, I don't recall you saying "Humbug!" when I said that's what I had been taught.

If I recall correctly, it was more of a "Hmmmm..." and a raised eyebrow.

Joe is right on this one. My CFI still does it this way himself and teaches it this way, too. It works for him just fine but it is a little harder. His feeling is that it's a little safer and worth the extra effort. When learning to land, it was a distraction for me.

Decide ahead of time what flaps you're going to use and add any remaining flaps once you turn to final. So, if you're using 40 and you've got 20 down on base, make your turn to final and add the remaining 20. This will let you concentrate on stabilizing your approach and getting it right.

Joe will attest that I had a hard time getting the last few seconds of the landing down. I think his quote was "we've got drift across the runway and the position of the nose and pitch attitude and you're getting any two of those right on any landing". Stabilizing the approach and then not making any further changes in configuration helped a lot.

Also, I don't think trim was mentioned above. I was originally taught to add a "handful" of trim when starting my landing abeam the intended landing point. The process would be power back to 1500, 10 degrees of flaps and a handful of trim. That actually does work pretty well, but I find that my landings are better and easier if I retrim for my approach speed after adding any remaining flaps on final. Nailing the approach speed will make things a lot easier.

Decide what speed you want to approach at and try to fly each approach at the same speed. Don't fixate on the airspeed indicator but do glance at it often. If you've got the trim right, it should be pretty easy to keep the airspeed right where you want it. Every landing seems to be different but controlling airspeed lets you keep at least one variable the same.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:36 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

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Now, Joe, I don't recall you saying "Humbug!" when I said that's what I had been taught.

If I recall correctly, it was more of a "Hmmmm..." and a raised eyebrow.
Brian,

Let's just say there is a difference between a theoretical discussion on how to teach a maneuver, and what an instructor should do with a drop-in that has invested a lot of time, money and effort.

My best analogy is a few golf instructors I had. First of all, I'm sure all them had a hard time not laughing out loud. Some would say to me "well the fundamentals are just not there, you probably taught yourself, let's break down your swing and start over and learn the right way". This would add 10 strokes to my game and it took months to get back to where I was. The ones who looked for one or two things that would help me move on from where I was took a few strokes off.

When an instructor gets a student that's not ab initio we have to accept that not all procedures will be taught the way we would have. I've learned from other instructor's pre-solo students and I've bit the inside of my cheek until it bled with others. This is one technique I've seen a lot, it's not so much wrong as it is making life more difficult than it has to be.

When we first met you had had a lot of instruction, you had all the basics and were doing pretty well. You expressed a desire for more consistency and finesse in your landings. IMHO, the trick to offering something of value in this situation is to change one thing at a time. The hard part is figuring out which one is most important.

That was longer and more philosophical that I intended. Though, I'm hitting submit anyway.

Joe
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Old April 27th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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Re: 172 Landing Technique

Joe,

I hope my post came across as slightly tongue-in-cheek (with no reference to biting the cheek, either).

You were instrumental (pun intended) in my finally figuring out how to land the darned thing, even though you weren't there on the day it started to finally come together. I will be singing your praises for years.

But, beyond telling everyone in earshot that you are a terrific instructor, I follow up by saying that you are just plain fun to fly with. I think we remember more when we learn in a fun environment than a stressful one, so perhaps that's a key to your success.

And, by the way, thank you for being kind in saying that I was looking for more "consistency and finesse" in my landings. Truth to tell, I was really hoping to be able to get it to earth in one piece that had a chance of being able to be used again.
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