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A good landing begins with a good approach (see figure 5-7 ). Before the final approach is begun, the pilot performs a landing checklist to ensure that critical items such as fuel flow, landing gear down, and carburetor heat on are not forgotten. Flaps are used for most landings because they permit a lower- approach speed and a steeper angle of descent. This gives the pilot a better view of the landing area. The airspeed and rate of descent are stabilized, and the airplane is aligned with the runway centerline as the final approach is begun. When the airplane descends across the approach end (threshold) of the runway, power is reduced further (probably to idle). At this time, the pilot slows the rate of descent and airspeed by progressively applying more back pressure to the control wheel. The airplane is kept aligned with the center of the runway mainly by use of the rudder.
Continuing back pressure on the control wheel, as the airplane enters ground effect and gets closer and closer to the runway, further slows its forward speed and rate of descent. The pilot's objective is to keep the airplane safely flying just a few inches above the runway's surface until it loses flying speed. In this condition, the airplane's main wheels will either "squeak on" or strike the runway with a gentle bump. With the wheels of the main landing gear firmly on the runway, the pilot applies more and more back pressure on the control wheel. This holds the airplane in a nose-high attitude which keeps the nose wheel from touching the runway until forward speed is much slower. The purpose here is to avoid overstressing and damaging the nose gear when the nosewheel touches down on the runway. The landing is a transition from flying to taxiing. It demands more judgment and technique than any other maneuver. More accidents occur during the landing phase than any other phase of flying. Variables such as wind shear and up-and-down draft add to the problem of landing. Good pilots can be easily recognized. They land smoothly on the main wheels in the center of the runway and maintain positive directional control as the airplane slows to taxiing speed.
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Updated: March 12, 2004