Flying a proper pattern for the perfect landing

Making a great landing is always a challenge, even for experienced pilots. However, there are some common misconceptions about how to make a great landing – namely that a pilot must concentrate on the round-out and flare.

Hence, a short post by Chris Findley, a flight instructor in the Nashville area and the founder of, for the Let’s Go Flying blog is well worth reading as he explained the importance of flying a proper pattern, especially on the downwind leg, in order to have a great landing. Chris noted that many student pilots are reluctant to allow the aircraft to descend on the downwind – which makes them high on the final approach. He also noted that other students are to fast and have to much airspeed while going into the roundabout or they do the opposite and come in to low and drop the plane onto the threshold.

However, Chris then explained that landing is about energy management. In other words, airspeed and altitude. He also mentioned that: 

I had one pilot I flew with who was very frustrated that his landings were all long –using up 2/3 of the runway.  After one trip around the pattern I saw that he was high in the pattern, didn’t use a consistent flap setting, and was trying to land 15 knots over the recommended approach speed.  That will make you land long every time.

After a few more trips around and a review of the recommended speeds, his landings were 100% better.

In other words, flying a proper pattern along with plenty of practice will be keys to having a perfect landing.


2 Responses to Flying a proper pattern for the perfect landing

  1. Mike February 20, 2011 at 05:29 #

    The key is consistency. I recently flew with someone that was very inconsistent with their airspeeds and flap settings while in they traffic pattern. The problem with this is if you change up what your airspeeds and flap setting from landing to landing, you never know what to expect from the airplane. One time you might be high and fast, another you might be low and slow, all because you haven't found a consistent way to do it. The airplane will perform and respond in different ways in each different scenario leaving you fighting, instead of flying the airplane to the ground. Once you get yourself into the habit of being as consistent as possible things will begin to fall into place. Ex: "My first power reduction will always be to this RPM abeam my touchdown point, I'll pitch to hold X airpseed, at airspeed X2 i'll put in my first notch of flaps. Once my airspeed is established I'll start my descent. I'll turn base, establish airspeed X3, and put in my second notch of flaps. I'll then turn final, put in the remaining flaps as necessary, and establish airspeed X4 until just prior to touchdown." Once a system is established, and you follow that system as well as execute it properly, you know what to expect from the airplane, and can the make minor tweaks here and there to finally master a perfect approach and landing.


  1. Pilot makes a long landing on a short runway - Golf Hotel Whiskey - February 23, 2011

    […] way to avoid a repeat of what this particular pilot did would be to follow the advice of Chris Findley, a flight instructor in the Nashville area and the founder of, […]

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