what is a perfect landing, anyway?


Nearly all student pilots are significantly challenged trying to master landings (as are many licensed pilots, too).

What exactly are these frustrating “perfect landings” we’re shooting for, anyway? Must every touchdown be glassy smooth?

Keep in mind that even the most experienced pilots show a good deal of variability in their landings based on conditions, fatigue, distractions, etc. (Just ask my wife how often I bounce the Flying Carpet. Then again, please don’t!)

What you’re actually striving for to get soloed is not so much consistently “perfect” landings, but rather, consistently “controlled and safe” landings. So if you balloon on a given landing and correct, or drift to one side and correct, or choose to go around from a bad approach and then make a good one, and each results in a safe and controlled landing, that is actually a worthy performance.

Sure, all pilots must shoot for “Attaboy!” perfection on landing, but we cannot plan on achieving “greasers” every time. What we must accomplish, however, is a safe and controlled landing every time. Sounds much more achievable, doesn’t it? That is what we are striving for, and you can do it!

For specific landing tips, see my posts, make better landings and master crosswind landings. ©2010 Gregory N. Brown

2 Responses to “what is a perfect landing, anyway?”

  1. G’day Greg,

    Oi vey! What is is about pilot’s worrying about getting a ‘perfect’ (ie greaser) landing at the expense of a controlled/safe landing using the correct techniques?

    I think Gordon Henrie’s book states: a grease job is a good landing..but it is not the MEASUREMENT of a good landing. And to demonstrate this point, Gordon e-mailled me a story about a a fellow pilot who could land a N.A. F-86 Sabre Jet without the wheels smoking at touchdown: a perfect grease job! The fact that the pilot may have used up nearly all of the runway is a different story.

    Another story, one of my former instructors, who flew B-737-200s used to get berated by his airline because he liked to grease on this old two-holer. My instructor’s response to management: ‘look the folk in tha back pay for this flight, and if they want a greaser, they get a greaser! Following established Boeing recommendations I gather, the correct technique was to have a ‘positive’, not hard landing, on the mains at touchdown. Never having flow a transport category jet, I can’t vouch for Boeing ‘recommendations’.

    Finally, One of the greatest challenges for an FI is to convince a student that controlled and safe is the goal; not perfection. Then again, the students probably gets confused by the apparent contradiction, when his/her FI manages to have a higher probability of achieving controlled-safe-perfect landing during a demonstration through experience, and the student does not.

  2. Greg Brown Says:

    Sorry for not responding sooner, Manny. Thanks for sharing these terrific insights! BTW, I too am a big fan of Gordon Henrie’s book, Instructional Methods for Flight Instructors Again, thanks!

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