Overcoming a landing issue

CFI Earl Kessler has posted an interesting question and dilemma on the Ask a Flight Instructor blog where he noted that he is the 4th CFI to take on particular student pilot who is very intelligent, comes from a flying family and has 50 hours of flying but has not soloed yet. Earl pointed out that his student has no problem with aircraft control other than landing. He then noted: 

He seems to have a problem transitioning from round out to flare.  Without my input, he seems to want to make the airplane one with the earth without flairing.  I have flown with him twice and had him do low passes in ground effect to show him control of the airplane at low altitude and airspeed.  This he does fine.  When I direct him to land though, he still screws up the flair and either ballons up or does a hard bouncing landing that I need to rescue.  Any suggestions?

Commenter Lance asked if the student is starting his flare on his own at a good height. Lance then added that if this is the case, he has found that it is better to tell a student pilot to try and keep the aircraft as close to the ground as possible without touching it. As power is reduced, the aircraft will then settle on the ground.  Lance also added that if the student is having trouble visualizing where to start a flare, Earl should start probing to see how the student is looking at the whole landing procedure as a bad sight picture can lead to problems with determining flare height.

John A Lindholm on the other hand zeroed in on the vision issue and asked Earl if he has watched his student’s eyes during the flare as the problem might be a fixation issue. He also asked about the student’s airwork and whether or not he is “thinking” too much about the landing as too much thinking can delay basic flight control.

Meanwhile, John D. Collins pointed out that some individuals have difficulty determining whether or not they are sinking or rising. Hence, they cannot sense the ground coming up quickly. John then suggested having the student stand on the tarmac and while focusing on the horizon, bend his knees and observe the sink or rise while he lowers and raises himself. In that way, he can start to recognize when the plane is rising, sinking or level.

Several other readers also posted great comments and suggestions for Earl but we would also like to ask you our readers what you think of student’s landing problems. Moreover, did you have issues landing when you were a student pilot and if so, how did you overcome them?

One Response to Overcoming a landing issue

  1. Kebgolfer March 23, 2011 at 18:41 #

    On this particular case, I would agree with Lance that it is better to tell a student pilot to try and keep the aircraft as close to the ground as possible without touching it. And I also agree with John D. Collins in that some individuals have difficulty determining whether or not they are sinking or rising. Hence, they cannot sense the ground coming up quickly. Both techniques suggested should bring the pilot student around.

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