June 2008 Issue

Ten Tips For Recovering Bad Landings

We all make bad landings—it’s how we recover from them that matters. These ten tips will help you next time it’s your turn.

It’s probably a fair bet that every person who has flown an airplane more than about 20 hours has made at least five landings he or she not only considers personally embarrassing but remains convinced to this day could be measured on the Richter scale. So, let’s be honest with ourselves from the very beginning: As active pilots, we are going to make ugly landings from time to time. Further, Murphy’s Law says we will probably make them when a lot of people are watching. Therefore, let’s recognize that a little humility (and perhaps humiliation) is the price of acquiring and maintaining the skills necessary to cause a rapidly moving flying machine to return to the planet in a condition to be reused immediately. As a result, once we firmly accept that from time to time we’re going to make runway arrivals of the sort to make cement contractors rub their hands in financial glee, we are going to be less likely to try to force the airplane onto the ground due to embarrassment after we have bounced telephone pole high, and more likely to think rationally about the attitude, speed and altitude of the airplane and proceed to coolly evaluate whether to try to salvage the landing or go around.

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