Landing proficiency
I'm still a student pilot with ~35 hours. My question is this: how long did it take for you to feel confident in your landing skills? E.G. stabilized approach, not feeling behind the plane, not rounding out too high, etc. Also how often did you fly while a student pilot?
17 Replies
Ben Singer
7 Posts
I just passed my private checkride on Jan 2, so I have recent experience in what you are talking about.  I was flying about twice a week to increase my proficiency.  One of the things that helped me most was something I saw on boldmethod.com.  They have a document that has the traffic pattern. With this, you write in your airspeeds during each phase of the pattern.  It didn't take long for me to know what power settings I need to have during each phase.  They have a video as well that helps you stablize your final approach. 

I learned to fly in a C182 that had an upgraded engine (300hp) and a constant speed prop.  I had to alter my "flows' from what I was originally taught because my problem was I was constantly coming in too fast.  Instead of putting 10d of flaps abeam my touchdown, I would put 10d in as soon as I got on the downwind.

Also, one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten was "fingertip flying".  I only use my forefinger and thumb on the yoke.  This forces you to use trim to control your airspeed.  That may have helped out more than anything else.

Good luck,

Ben
Ronald Levy
1453 Posts
It wasn't until I had about 400 hours with CP/CFI already in hand that I went into the Navy and learned the absolutely essential lesson that Ben mentioned above -- trim for speed, power for climb/descent rate at trimmed speed, without yanking/shoving the stick/yoke to manage either speed or altitude.  That changed everything.  In the 45 years since that epiphany, I've taught that lesson to more pilots I can count, and whether they have 10, 100, or 1000 hours, the incorporation of that concept into their basic flying skills has been a sea change in their ability to control and stabilize the airplane.  Take that to heart, and you'll see a dramatic difference in your flying.
Kindof like forever! You'll get there, though. I flew once a week as a student, with frequent cancellations for weather and a few months long vacations thrown in. Throw in that I am an "older pilot" and It took a couple of years to get there. I was at about 70 hours before I soloed, and probably 90 before I took the practical.
Dean Brock
16 Posts
Focus on the altitude of your eyes while taxiing, and try to memorize that sight picture. Then modify this picture and take a mental snapshot during liftoff, which is the picture you replicate at touchdown.  ALL of us have height judgement issues on the roundout and touchdown.  Those of us with a ton of experience have these problems because of another airplane type that we have been recently current in, and because of those classic illusions regarding runway width, etc as you read in your textbook.  We try to take a snapshot of what the height & attitude is on liftoff and try to reproduce it on the touchdown (on that day and that runway) just a few minutes later, and that makes us look like master pilots!! LOL.
I soloed at 7 hrs and got my Private Pilots license at around 70 hrs in a year.  I've been flying 2 to 3 time a week since I started this journey.  I'm 64 yrs young if that matters at all.  Oh ........ landings .......... I've got nearly 450 landings and am still always wishing that my landings were more stable and better.  The post that talks about trimming for speed is good advise.  I'm getting better and more confident all the time with just under 200 hrs under my belt.  You will get proficient and more comfortable.  Practice Practice Practice
I just passed my PP check ride in late January. It felt like it took forever to even begin to get the hang of landing (and I’m still working on it) so I know exactly how you feel. Perhaps the biggest thing for me was Internalizing the importance of a stabilized and relaxed pattern. Once I was able to consistently enter a 500 FPM descent trimmed for 80 mph (in my trainer),  I found I was then able to really think ahead to the rest of the approach and landing without getting tense and over controlling. I still struggled with center line alignment, making sure I didn’t land with a side-load, and I found crosswind landings quite intimidating initially.  I flew as much as I could once I was allowed to solo, usually twice a week, and I think building that solo time really helped me become more proficient, confident, and relaxed. I got delayed scheduling my checkride due to some FAA paperwork hassles, and in the end I was grateful for the extra solo time pre-Checkride.  You didn’t say how much of your 35 hours was PIC, but I’d say it was not until I had about 25 hours PIC  that started to feel confident. Don’t be intimidated by people who say they were soloing after 5 or 10 hours and tested right at 40. Every single hour in the plane, with your CFI or PIC, is only helping making you a more experienced pilot.