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Advice

Old 16th Mar 2015, 03:08
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Advice

I'm a very low time pilot in training and am having a bit of trouble landing my Cessna 152.
I am fairly certain i'm completely overthinking the whole thing but I would love any advice and tips anyone can throw at me.
Currently, I am fine with descending & lining up the runway, but I am having a hard time getting it right at the very last second.
Like i said, any advice at all will be hugely appreciated.
Thanks.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 08:29
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Once you flare look right into the distance to the far end of the runway. This will allow you to detect sink and hence the amount of up elevator you need to bring in to touch down.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 09:09
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What speed have they been teaching you to fly at over the start of the runway?
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 09:38
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When you say getting it right at the last second, what is currently happening? Drifting off to right/left, hard landing, ballooning etc…?
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 09:48
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Thanks @Cynical Pilot, i'll keep that in mind next time.

@FoolCorsePitch, i've only been taught to approach with flaps 30 keeping the speed between 55-65KIAS. Nothing specific about the start of the runway.

@wheels_down, the majority of my landings have been ballooning and if not, then they have been really hard landings.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 13:05
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My advice?

Keep going. You'll eventually "click" with what's needed as long as your instructor is patient and knows what they're doing.

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Old 16th Mar 2015, 13:44
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Exactly what Angel said, just keep at it.
No skill worth aquiring comes easy.
BTW, 20 years and 10000 hours from now that very last second will still be occasionally tripping you up!
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 22:15
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Similar problems, basically caused by not knowing where to look and over thinking what I was doing because of it.

The cures were:

1. Saying to myself "aim point, airspeed" constantly on final. A smudge on the windscreen helps with getting the aim point right, and of course you have your trim set accurately for desired approach speed with hands off.

..that means I arrive over the fence at Fifty feet at the desired speed, maybe 60 knots or less to 55knots.

2. At Fifty feet and on desired speed stop looking at instruments and look outside. You must keep your eyes outside!

3.At the poit of flare use "the jacobsen flare" technique. Fix your eye on the centre of the far end of the runway and try and fly there. You will naturally pul back to try and prevent your decent for those last few feet and should arrive with stall warning sounding and full back stick.

….Or at least that is what I try to achieve, and sometimes I pull it off

Serious suggestion: Find an instructor who understands how to use the MkI landing training aid - an A4 sheet of paper with four bits of bluetack. It certainly cured me!
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 22:26
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The other thing that I found that made a big difference was getting the seat height just right. It's a lot easier if you own your own aircraft but you can and should get the seat in the same position every time, e.g. x holes back from the the front and y turns of the wind up lever from the bottom.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 22:51
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As others have said, it sounds like you are looking just in front of the nose when you try to land - commonly leads to balloons and hard touchdowns. You need to look at the end of the runway when you start flaring. Is it trimmed when you cross the threshhold?

And don't think YOU are landing the aircraft. Pilots don't make GA aircraft land. If you have in your head that you have to make the aircraft land, you will always have trouble. All you do is put the aircraft in the right place and wait until IT is ready and lands itself. When it runs out of energy and is ready to land, it will land. Try and force it to happen, and it will bite.

It will happen, just relax. If you think your instructor isn't helping, ask to do a few circuits with the CFI. They'll sort you out.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 23:03
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Slippery Pete and Sunfish have the basic story ...

majority of my landings have been ballooning and if not, then they have been really hard landings

Suggests that you are maintaining concentration on the aiming point for too long and then flaring by guesswork .. which doesn't work very well

getting the seat height just right

Absolutely .. and quite important for IFR low vis landings if you progress down that street. Suggest you move fore/aft so that the legs and arms are comfortable on the controls and then up so that your line of sight runs down the top of the glareshield

(a) get the trim set for the final speed by, say, 300 ft so you don't have to fight the elevator loads while you are busy doing other things

(b) maintain the pitch attitude and, subject to turbulence, you should find the airspeed reasonably stable

(c) drive the aircraft down to whatever is your aiming point. This is much easier if you have a physical reference on the ground .. eg runway or runway edge markings etc

(d) at some height which you will eventually settle on for yourself .. and which will vary with crosswind particularly .. flick your eye focus to well down the runway so that you are, in effect, looking near parallel to the runway surface. I'd go for around 20 ft or so initially and then ramp it down to, say, 10 ft .. if you do this transition too high you are likely only to confuse yourself and, more dangerously, end up floating excessively.

(e) peripheral vison cues will allow you to sense the rate of closure with the runway surface. Eventually you will "get" the picture which should be associated with a gentle flare.

(f) the aim should be to flare so that your wheels are just off the runway and then let the aircraft settle without tolerating more than a short float.

(g) excess speed is a real trap for young players. Have a look at the POH recommended speed and ask yourself why you are flying faster if that is relevant ?

It takes a while but keep at it and it will come together.

Another idea to minimise all those things which are distracting you with multiple sensory inputs is to talk your instructor into a session of circuits with a nice big high sitting over the aerodrome and right on dawn .. best chance to get nil wind and stable air. This allows you to see the important bits rather than getting tangled up with the distractors.

Also, if you have the approach reasonably down pat, get your instructor to do the final bit of the approach/flare/touchdown and patter you through what he/she is doing and thinking for a couple of landings ... that should help you get a reasonable mental picture of the desired spot to flare without too much lost time.

And .. don't sweat it too much ... even the aces get the odd surprise from time to time. Mind you, when I went onto the 722, my first block was with a lovely English greybeard gentleman who painted it on every landing without fail .. in some contradistinction to my own efforts at the time. Actually, with that model (which had a reputation for difficult landings) I got on top of my problems when I gave all the guidance the flick and just landed it like a 150 .. my landings went from generally dreadful to generally nice with the occasional greaser.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 23:33
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Low approach

For students who've had flaring I've used the low approach technique to give a bit more handling practice in each circuit.

I.e. During the flare, add enough power so that you can fly just off the ground and experiment with slight changes in attitude and power to get used to the view for 15 -20 seconds or so (if the runway is long enough) then do a go around. Try to get as close to the runway as possible without touching it.

This will give you extra time in the flare (extended) to get the coordination right.

It can also be used in a crosswind situation to hold the centerline in an extended flare to a go around.

Once you are used to the handling, go back to the normal power off POH method.

Caveat: This is not appropriate to do when solo as it chews up runway very quickly while you're busy feeling the flare.

Good luck.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 23:50
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All great advice, thank you. I'll take all of it on and see what happens when i go in for my landings this week.

@Slippery_Pete - Love the advice about not forcing the aircraft to land, i'm almost certain that's what i've been doing.

@John_Tullamarine - With all of my landings so far i have had fairly strong crosswinds, which is probably part of the problem. Not that i mind, but would i probably be shocked if i ever landed without crosswind! My most recent landing, i was crabbing on my approach which likely had me somewhat disorientated.
The airport is on the coast and all my landings so far have in the late afternoon, early evening.
I might try, like you said, flying first thing when there's barely any wind and see if it works out any better.
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Old 16th Mar 2015, 23:51
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Usual problem I find with flaring/balloon is you aren't flaring early enough, then when you think you're at the right height (literally right above the ground) you yank the stick back as if to avoid hitting the ground! 'The death grip' on the control quickly ensues and any real control is lost from there.

You actually need to start arresting the aircraft well before this point. From around 20ft or so (say twice the windsock height) start easing the stick back almost as slowly as you can after closing the throttle.

Continue moving the stick back very slowly allowing the aircraft to slowly descend to flare height and all the way through the flare without making any sharp movements on the elevator or ailerons. Avoid the urge to yank it back (or forward for that matter).

Be conscious of how you are gripping the yoke at all times, try not touching with your palm, just fingers only

The ass crack of dawn is always the best time to go, as John said.

As you can see there is a lot of advice on this forum and everyone here has been through the same thing. No point trying to remember all this the next time you come over the fence. Just keep trying, everyone eventually *clicks*

Last edited by Nomde plume; 17th Mar 2015 at 01:32.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 01:20
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With all of my landings so far i have had fairly strong crosswinds, which is probably part of the problem

You're trying to run before you can crawl.

I'm not at all surprised that you are having trouble. Certainly find some suitable periods with nil wind .. and preferably stable air, ie no bumps, and you'll get on top of things pretty quickly.

Then the crosswind stuff follows without too much problem. Long time since I flew a Cessna but, as I recall, the 150 was a bit of a pussycat in crosswinds so it should all come together once you get the basics sorted out. I guess the 152 flies much the same as a 150 ?
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 01:29
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Speed?

Could be a stupid question as I've never flown the type but 65 knots to me seems fast? Can bring a 210 over at 70.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 05:34
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Hi Thompson88 I know what you're flying and who you're flying with. You need all the help you can get.

When landing on runway 34 with a crosswind from the east you will get a lot of mechanical turbulence from the trees in your right. You can avoid this by aiming further down the runway and touching down just before the 08/26 threshold. 16 isn't as bad but it's always bumpy crossing the industrial area to the north and over the grass inside the fence, you will get a bit of sink. Just be prepared for it and it won't disturb your approach.

Despite the prattle your instructor is telling you about controlling airspeed with attitude, set the attitude, stabilise the approach, and control airspeed with power. You don't need to flare back up into the air, at about 10 feet level the aircraft, reduce throttle to idle and wait for it to sink. It will land by itself, don't force it down.

Oh and full back trim in a 152 will give 65 knots hands off the controls.
Remember that when you are being taught that Jamberoo is the only place on earth you can conduct a forced landing. Most importantly, don't pay Harry in advance.
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 05:42
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2. At Fifty feet and on desired speed stop looking at instruments and look outside. You must keep your eyes outside!
Sunfish, did you learn this before or after you bent the firewall ?
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 07:32
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A lot of good advice above. You definitely need a few sessions in smooth conditions. Too many sessions in strong xwinds early on in your circuit training (especially if gusty/turbulent) isn't much fun. Vital to look down the end of the runway after you flare and use your peripheral vision to 'feel' the sink as you hold off, gradually pulling back (in small 'bites') until you touch down on main wheels. As others have said, 1 day its just going to 'click' and you'll be saying 'oh NOW I get it..!'. Bit like when you learnt to ride a bike. All of a sudden it just clicks, and you're away. If after a while you're still struggling, ask your instructor to show you a few flapless landings and try a few of those. Shallower approach, less flare required and a bit more float just above the runway, the 152 pretty much just flies itself onto the runway (albeit at a slightly faster speed). It sometimes help give you a better feel/picture of where you should be above the runway just prior to landing. Whatever you do, don't give up. You'll get it eventually..!
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Old 17th Mar 2015, 08:38
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Try also flaring on attitude.
Set up upper air circuits, same ias/rod/trim as per final stabilise note the attitude. Raise attitude in finger widths until you stabilise at ~200fpm. Note that attitude... 'Bounce' between the 2 attitudes, learn the stick movement needed to go from descent to flare.
Back in the pattern... Look for the picture/angle the runway edges makes with your shoulders, refine that flare height (at which you start the stick movement) and the rate with what you see out the front, as previously described.
As many things need to be constant as possible for you to develop self awareness of dynamics like the flare.
Hats off for you asking, too BTW!
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