CHAPTER 11. Approaches and Landings

Estimating Height and Movement

During the fi nal approach, roundout, and touchdown, vision is of prime importance. To provide a wide scope of vision and to foster good judgment of height and movement, the pilotís head should assume a natural, straight-ahead position. The pilotís visual focus should not be fi xed on any one side or any one spot ahead of the aircraft. The pilot should maintain a deliberate awareness of the runway centerline (if available) or distance from either side of the runway within his or her peripheral fi eld of vision.

Accurate estimation of distance is, besides being a matter of practice, dependent upon how clearly objects are seen; vision must be focused properly so that important objects stand out as clearly as possible. Speed blurs objects at close range. For example, one can note this effect in an automobile moving at high speed. Nearby objects seem to merge together in a blur, while objects farther away stand out clearly. The driver subconsciously focuses the eyes suffi ciently far ahead of the automobile to see objects distinctly.

The distance at which the pilotís vision is focused should be proportionate to the speed at which the aircraft is traveling over the ground. Thus, as speed is reduced during the roundout, the focus distance ahead of the aircraft should be decreased accordingly.

If the pilot attempts to focus on a reference that is too close or looks directly down, the reference is blurred, and the reaction is either too abrupt or too late. In this case, the pilotís tendency is to overcontrol, round out high, and make a stalled, drop-in landing. When the pilot focuses too far ahead, accuracy in judging the closeness of the ground is lost and the consequent reaction is too slow since there is no apparent necessity for action. This results in the aircraft fl ying into the ground nose fi rst without a proper roundout.

The best way to recognize and become accustomed to heights and speeds for a particular WSC aircraft is to perform low passes over the runway, as discussed earlier, with energy management. Perform a normal approach fi rst, then a highenergy pass at a higher speed, and then medium-energy passes at lower speeds. These exercises are performed fi rst in calm winds at a height, as an example, at which the wheels are 10 feet above the runway, then lowering to just inches above the runway as the pilotís skills build. The objective is to become profi cient at fl ying straight down the runway centerline at a constant altitude. This exercise provides the opportunity to determine height and speed over the runway before any landings are performed. These should generally be performed in mild conditions. Higher energy and greater heights above the runway are required in windier and bumpier conditions.

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