Chapter 8—Approaches and Landings

Table of Contents
Normal Approach and Landing
    Base Leg
    Final Approach
    Use of Flaps
    Estimating Height and Movement
    Roundout (Flare)
    After-Landing Roll
    Stabilized Approach Concept

Intentional Slips
Go-Arounds (Rejected Landings)
    Ground Effect

Crosswind Approach and Landing
    Crosswind Final Approach
    Crosswind Roundout (Flare)
    Crosswind Touchdown
    Crosswind After-Landing Roll
    Maximum Safe Crosswind Velocities

Turbulent Air Approach and Landing
Short-Field Approach and Landing
Soft-Field Approach and Landing

Power-Off Accuracy Approaches
    90° Power-Off Approach
    180° Power-Off Approach
    360° Power-Off Approach

Emergency Approaches and Landings (Simulated)

Faulty Approaches and Landings
    Low Final Approach
    High Final Approach
    Slow Final Approach
    Use of Power
    High Roundout
    Late or Rapid Roundout
    Floating During Roundout
    Ballooning During Roundout
    Bouncing During Touchdown
    Hard Landing
    Touchdown in a Drift or Crab
    Ground Loop
    Wing Rising After Touchdown

    Dynamic Hydroplaning
    Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning
    Viscous Hydroplaning


The touchdown is the gentle settling of the airplane onto the landing surface. The roundout and touchdown should be made with the engine idling, and the airplane at minimum controllable airspeed, so that the airplane will touch down on the main gear at approximately stalling speed. As the airplane settles, the proper landing attitude is attained by application of whatever back-elevator pressure is necessary.

Some pilots may try to force or fly the airplane onto the ground without establishing the proper landing attitude. The airplane should never be flown on the runway with excessive speed. It is paradoxical that the way to make an ideal landing is to try to hold the airplane’s wheels a few inches off the ground as long as possible with the elevators. In most cases, when the wheels are within 2 or 3 feet off the ground, the airplane will still be settling too fast for a gentle touchdown; therefore, this descent must be retarded by further back-elevator pressure. Since the airplane is already close to its stalling speed and is settling, this added back-elevator pressure will only slow up the settling instead of stopping it. At the same time, it will result in the airplane touching the ground in the proper landing attitude, and the main wheels touching down first so that little or no weight is on the nosewheel. [Figure 8-8]

A well executed roundout results in attaining the proper landing attitude Figure 8-8. A well executed roundout results in attaining the proper landing attitude.

After the main wheels make initial contact with the ground, back-elevator pressure should be held to maintain a positive angle of attack for aerodynamic braking, and to hold the nosewheel off the ground until the airplane decelerates. As the airplane’s momentum decreases, back-elevator pressure may be gradually relaxed to allow the nosewheel to gently settle onto the runway. This will permit steering with the nosewheel. At the same time, it will cause a low angle of attack and negative lift on the wings to prevent floating or skipping, and will allow the full weight of the airplane to rest on the wheels for better braking action.

It is extremely important that the touchdown occur with the airplane’s longitudinal axis exactly parallel to the direction in which the airplane is moving along the runway. Failure to accomplish this imposes severe side loads on the landing gear. To avoid these side stresses, the pilot should not allow the airplane to touch down while turned into the wind or drifting.

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PED Publication