July 2011 Issue

Nailing The Straight-In Approach

Fly it as you would a rectangular pattern and don’t squeeze the time from your last configuration change to touchdown. In other words, don’t change a thing.

A good portion of our first few hours of flight instruction—the ones coming after learning basic control—involve getting to know the traffic pattern and perfecting what little takeoff and landing technique we can muster. Using the traffic pattern is convenient: We stay in a relatively small area yet experience one takeoff, a climb, a descent and turns, along with a brief period of straight-and-level flight. One outcome of staying in the traffic pattern and doing touch-and-goes is we get to practice many of the basic VFR skills—along with takeoffs and landings—in a relatively short period of time. The educational law of primacy tells us learning to fly a traffic pattern also teaches us it is the only way to properly approach a landing area in an airplane and—to some extent—it is.

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