9 WHOLE hours of experience so far...advice welcome


Well-Known Member
So, here's my situation: I am brand new to this flying thing. So far, things have gone relatively well in the air. It's not too bad to do those 45 deg banks, staying at (mostly) the correct altitude, etc. It's this darn landing stuff that's getting to me.

I go again with my instructor on tuesday (9/16) afternoon. He's consistently been telling me to "hold it off" as we get very close to the ground. At that point, the yoke always feels really stiff to pull back against and it feels like I am all the way back on the elevators, but i am consistently not, because he has to help me at that point. I know I need to trim for speed and attitude, but as we get close to the ground, I find that I am sweating a wee bit and just focusing on the yoke as well as the throttle....and not much else. Also, as I come in close i need to pull back so hard I get "gripped" and then the plane starts to do interesting things right near the ground.

I am not despairing, but I have to say, this learning-to-fly thing is the most frustrating/difficult and at the same time FUN thing i have done in a long time. Most other physical activities I have done in the past like rock climbing, mountain biking, etc have been hard but not what i would consider difficult. I can easily see why so many people get hooked on being in the air.

So, any advice, ideas thoughts etc would be most welcome...
After 1400 hours of dual given...almost every primary flight training student was identical when it came to "getting" the landing. At some point in time it will "click"...and then you will have it forever.

Trust your instructor, don't beat yourself up...it will happen. Your instructor should probably ensure that your landing lessons are taking place in fairly calm, benign flying conditions.

FWIW, I see guys coming from RJ's to the heavies...and even they are having trouble figuring out the flare. It just takes time...it'll come.

Also, FWIW, I have a terrible time going from the heavies to landing my Cherokee. If it was easy...everyone would be doing it.
with the whole stiffness when you get close to the ground, i used to teach my students when they were doing their before landing checklist to give it two swipes of back trim. it makes it a bit easier to help hold it off and when you do soft field landings it is genius! just remember you have it in when you do a go around. :)
Yeah right before landing i would give it 2 full swipes of trim to relieve the back pressure and you will flare like a king.
trimming can help, I have recommended that to some students. Personally I only trim for the decent than a just use my arms for the flare. Oh I use a golf glove to get a better grip of the yoke. It helps a lot bc my palms sweet and if your in a C-172 south Texas in the summer your sweeting up a storm.

But it will come with practice, and it does just finally click. In the flare don't freak out, flying is a smooth motion, use finesse.

Good luck. Fly safe!!
... just focusing on the yoke as well as the throttle...

Just pull the throttle to idle at about 30-50 feet and focus on the yoke. Remember to keep your eyes moving and focus towards the end of the runway.

How many landings do you have? I have about 60 hours with ~160ish landings and I'm still learning. Everyone has bad landings, sometimes it just doesn't work out :)
Thank you everyone for the advice and encouragement! I DO trust my instructor. He has been excellent and calm so far, even when I managed a port-side one-wheel-landing with the nose-going-left 'landing' yesterday...he calmly and very quickly managed to straighten out what looked like an imminent cartwheel to me.

Yesterday's conditions were (other than clouds at 2000ft off the ground) about as perfect as they could be. That is what frustrated me even more: minimal wind, not-so-crowded field, long runway....perfect in every way; except for the pilot (me).:eek:

Just out of curiosity: what do you mean by "2 quick swipes with the trim"? Big swipes, little swipes....what exactly is a "swipe"

And, Yank&BankmyRJ145, your avatar picture is just perfect!
9 hours? Don't worry about it. Just fly as often as you can. It took me a long time to solo, something like 25-30 hours. I just sucked at landings.
"swipe" roll the trim wheel from the top to the bottom or bottom to top= one swipe of the trim.

The picture is in our crew lounge, it's so true. It's harder to land smoothly in clam winds, all of my greaser landings have been with a 20-25 knot x-wind. It's bc you get so focused. I can not tell you how many times I have come in on a smooth approach w/ calm winds thinking I'm about to roll this bird on. Then BAM --"take that ground", But I didn't break anything and I'm still alive, It's a great landing.
Have you done any stalls yet? It gave me a new perspective to "hold it off" after doing a few approach to landing stalls. My landings improved greatly after that. Now I only lower the airport elevation by a few inches instead of feet when I land.
If your not doing one of these... your all right.

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do your poweroff stalls with a controlled decent and a hard deck. treat it like a landing. it makes the real thing a piece of cake. i know it is easier said than done but remember you do all the manuevers for a specific purpose. they can all be translated into other aspects of the flight. keep working hard and it will come. it doesnt make you a better pilot if you solo at 16 hours or 26 hours. just do it right the first time and it will all work out. keep asking questions. best of luck.
Just stick with it. There were days when I was learning how to land that I left the airport so discouraged...don't worry, it will come together. Rolling the trim back on final is the thing that helped me. Watch some landings filmed from the dash on youtube, and take notice of where you're looking/focusing on short final. It may help you to look further down the rwy or closer in. Oh, and if you can, extend your downwind a little, so you have plenty of time on final and don't feel rushed. You'll get there :)
Yeh, the more time you have in the cockpit, you will find things will slow down for you. Like seriously, I could read a short novel on final in a katana (da-20), but i remember back in the training days, that it seemed like I was coming in sooooo fast. Also, try using one hand with the landings in the 72, if your not already.
I had very similar problems with my landings; balooning, coming in flat, etc. What eventually helped me was to break the last few seconds of every flight down in my head and focus on performing a series of small movements and pay attention to what I felt the a/c doing during the process from approach to transition to hold, hold, hold then flare. Eventually during my transition, when I was bleeding off my airspeed, it clicked for me and I was able to feel when the plane started slowing down and I could pull back on the yoke and start flaring. The key thing for me was slowing things down in my head and turning three movements of the yoke into multiple smaller movements.

Keep at it an fly often you will eventually get the feeling down and start greasing 'em. Like my instructor told me, "I would let you know if I noticed any red flags, this something that everyone goes though and eventually gets the hang of it."
A few other ideas...

Look for the proper pitch attitude when you flare. There is still some timing needed, but if you

1) Fly the proper approach airspeed *on a stabilized approach,
2) Pull the nose up to land (roughly to the horizon...depends on a number of factors), and
3) Apply increasing back pressure to keep the nose there,

The airplane, with a little finesse and experience, tends to land itself. Focusing on this formula helped me a lot when I began instructing and had to switch airplanes 5 times a day too (flaring a C-150 feels different from a Traumahawk from a C182 from a C172 from a Duchess etc.)

As others have noted, this can be practiced at altitude as well.

Every student is different, but I've noticed many benefit from "aiming" their landings. Pick a spot and try to land on it (lateral alignment is critical as well). I credit the improved performance to the more consistent approaches flown when there is pressure to pick a spot.

Always let your CFI know of your thoughts/troubles, the ideas you get here, and of course come back and let us know if you're still struggling later (I'm sure with a little practice you'll be fine).
What kind of aircraft are you training in? Sometimes the yoke on the warrior or an archer will tend to "stick" and not be smooth especially in the landing flare. This usually gets greased during 100hr inspections, but I've noticed some pipers need it lubed more often so it doesn't stick.
Landings can be a true art. Don't sweat the learning process man, just keep working at it. Some days you'll probably ask your self: how in the hell did I manage to screw things up THAT badly? But you'll probably have plently of days where things just all fall into place. Just be willing to always improve on yourself and you'll get there.

The above guys made some very good points. Also, when I was teaching I'd tell my students to make sure they are looking at the horizion as they are in the flare, don't look just a few yards ahead. You'll get a feel for the plane as its just about to touchdown after awhile.
Lots of good advice. Don't feel bad, I had almost 20 hours and 65 landings BEFORE I even soloed!!! Practice, practice, practice!!! It will come...promise!!!

That video was horrible. I was yelling at the computer..."Go around!!!!!!!"

I saw that happen in person a few months back...a very surreal thing to see.