UPDATE: Now that I’ve earned my wings, I’m still flying and learning. This blog will
remain open and active for those interested in the flight training process, however, if you want to see
what I’ve been up to since becoming a pilot, please check out my columns in Sport Aviation magazine. - Brady
This lesson was a difficult one for me. Jason introduced me to short and soft field landings—simulating what to do when you are landing on a short runway or a soft runway like grass or sand.The goal for short field landings is to come in slightly slower than normal and make sure you touch down at the beginning of the runway. I was able to land each time, but regardless of how hard I tried, never landed on the numbers. Taking 5-10 mph off my normal approach speed was just enough to make the whole approach feel off to me. Jason assures me I'm on the normal learning curve, but it sure was frustrating.Jason also told me that short field landings are the most commonly failed portion of a checkride so it is going to take some practice to master. I'm curious if any of you struggled with these precision landings and what you did to finally get it.On a positive note, the takeoffs were a blast. Climbing out at Vx (best angle of climb) in the Remos is an incredible ride.
Posted by John Galt
@ 04:13 PM, May 21
I remember doing these and it was an odd feeling but the key is not to get frustrated because then you begin to overthink it...just aim for the numbers and it will all come together. Great Video~!
Posted by Brady Lane
@ 04:24 PM, May 21
John: That was the very word I used when debriefing the Jason after the lesson - overthink. I was making these landings much harder than they needed to be. Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one who tried too hard at these. I hope to get up soon and try them again.
Posted by Patrick Saenen
@ 04:43 PM, May 21
Brady,I love to follow your exploits. I am also a student sport pilot with about 14 hours, and I just did my solo XC last weekend which went very well. However I still have to do my written test......Can you please tell me what GPS data logger and what software you used to create the picture in lesson 21. I think it would be a great tool in analyzing my flights.I must say that the short field landings and the soft field landings are also for me really difficult, and I am going to need a lot more practice to get them mastered.Keep up the good work!Best regards,Patrick Saenen
Posted by Brady Lane
@ 05:03 PM, May 21
Patrick: I am using a Amod AGL3080 GPS data logger on my flights away from the airport. Here is a link for it on amazon. http://tinyurl.com/amod3080 (there may be better prices elsewhere though). There are "full service" gps devices that can also record your track, but I like this because it is small, easy to use and will record for days on two AAA batteries. I created the image by taking a screen grab of the GPS track in Google Earth. Congrats on your solo cross-country. How was it? Nerve-racking? I hope to be doing my solo cross country soon, so I'm eager to hear how yours went.
Posted by Jay
@ 07:54 PM, May 21
Hey Brady, Remember when you first stepped in the place and wondered how you were going to fly while talking to ATC, scanning for traffic, scanning the gauges, etc.? Now its no big deal. The same will happen with this. Once you get use to playing with the throttle (which in turn make you work the rudder a bit more), hitting the landings should be fine. I remember doing my PPL short field landings. I really had to force myself to think not to worry about impressing my instructor with a smooth landing. I needed to remember that all I want to do is get down and stopped before the end of the runway. It helped me to (as a VFR pilot you can do this) aim for the very start of the runway as your point to reference. Once over the end you should be starting the flare, which will allow you to touch down on the numbers. Aiming for the numbers means you'll get there and then start your flare. Those things helped me get past this point. As long as you realize these landings aren't there to impress anyone and you're not scared (and force yourself) to get lower of approach, you'll get the hang of it. Good luckJay from Toronto, Canada
Posted by Garrett
@ 11:37 PM, May 21
Looking good Brady. I have heard that these are fun yet frustrating. Of course I am a few lessons away from these, but definatly looking forward to them. Keep it up buddy!!
Posted by Patrick Saenen
@ 05:54 AM, May 22
Brady,Thank you for your quick response on the GPS Data Logger. I ordered one so I can take it with me on Saturday!The solo cross country was quite easy. The first airport (BKV) where i had to land, had a Learjeat in take off position waiting for 3 deer to clear the runway. I had to wait in pattern for more than 10 minutes before the deer were gone and I could land. My biggest problem is communication. I get sooo nervous every time I have to push the transmit button. When I hear you talking on the radio, it is lake you are doing this your whole life. Did you follow a special course or how did you learn it?Best regards,Patrick Saenen
Posted by Greg Skufca
@ 02:46 PM, May 22
Hello from Texas Brady,I hope you continue your blog even after your certificate. You are an inspiration to many student and young pilots with your ongoing eagerness and desire to learn. I am also a student pilot that enjoys the common situations expressed here. I look forward to viewing your next lesson. You are ahead of me in your lessons, so it seems to give me a better insight of what to expect, and prepare for it, from a fellow students point of view. Thanks.Sunny Skies,Greg
Posted by Todd Fischer
@ 09:57 PM, May 23
Brady,This is a great thing you are doing. I just passed my sport pilot check ride yesterday and I have been following your progress as I was working up to the check ride. I know all the ups and downs you are going through but it is all great experience. I will continue to follow your progress. Watching your videos made me feel better when I was frustrated knowing I wasn't the only student feeling that way. Great Work!
Posted by Todd Fischer
@ 09:59 PM, May 23
Brady,One other thing, I am at Brennand in Neenah so maybe I will see you buzzing around.
Posted by Ricky
@ 02:57 PM, May 24
Hi,Love your video blog its very helpful and fun to watch. To hit those numbers have you tried an earlier aim point? It seems like your aim point is pretty close to the numbers. Maybe it just feels akward to make the end of the runway, or even a spot slightly off the end of the runway your aim point down final, but maybe that will help you hit that spot!
Posted by Connie(tiny)Lee
@ 06:46 AM, May 25
Hi Brady,I really enjoy your video blogs. I flew U/L's out of X-51 in Homestead, Fl. I have my solo on video. I learned a lot about about the mechanics of the landings watching the video. I soloed in a Quicksilver Sport ll. I still watch the video. What is amazing about and me flying U/L's is I'm 6'9" tall and weigh 270 lbs. I wish you the very best in your flying.
Posted by Brian
@ 09:57 AM, May 25
You're doing great Brady! You've got a 200ft margin for the check ride(just passed my PPL 2 weeks ago). Looked like you were close. Are you trimmed for 60? When you have the airspeed nailed, playing w/ the throttle for descent becomes easier! Aim for the theshold, not the numbers to take into account the roundout. I was used to hitting the #s, my DPE told me to land on the aiming markers...Doh! I targetted 50ft in front of the markers and hit the markers dead-on. Have fun!!
Posted by Luke
@ 01:45 PM, May 25
When I was practicing free throws in basketball I learned that when I concentrate on a certain part of the hoop I could get consistency. I learned that when I concentrate on the front of the rim I could be consistent. I would ask yourself where are you focusing your eyes when you come in on final? You might try focusing on a line just before the numbers instead of maybe focusing on the numbers themselves. Just an idea!
Posted by Ryan Warner
@ 09:58 PM, May 26
Don't give up on it. This was just about the last thing my instructor and myself did before the checkride but luckily it was enough. I love being 18 and telling my friends that I'm a pilot!
Posted by Cary Alburn
@ 05:57 PM, May 28
There's a tendency to separate these into short landings and soft landings__but in the "real world" a typical soft strip (like grass or dirt) is also pretty short.When you don't need soft but do need short, it's easy. Or in the unlikely event that you have a really long soft runway, that's easy. It's the combination that is tough. But there is a secret to success.In your POH, you will find that most manufacturers use a range of approach speeds these days, and often pilots (of all experience levels) just use any old speed that falls in that range__and so their landings are inconsistent. My advice: Pick the slowest speed in the range for ALL of your landing approaches. That should be 1.3 Vso, which is what I was taught and then later taught as a CFI, before the manufacturers started publishing a range of speeds.There is rarely a reason to use a faster approach speed than 1.3 Vso, and only the back country pros will use less than 1.3 Vso. If you consistently, absolutely every time, use 1.3 Vso, you will find that all of your landings will be reasonably good, whether they are normal, short, soft, or a combination of short and soft.FWIW, typically a soft or combo short and soft means carrying a little power, so that you can use that to keep the airplane from landing hard. But I made the very best soft field landing of my life when my engine came apart in the air 5 years ago, and I had to land in a field__so power is not an absolute necessity to soft.Finally, practice so that when you use that consistent same speed every time, you know how far the airplane will glide during your flare before touchdown. If you are using the same speed each time, that will become a same distance__so that if you aim for a point that same distance before the numbers, you will land on the numbers.The key to good landings is consistency, especially consistent airspeed on approach that is 1.3 Vso. The only time you should use more than 1.3 Vso is in a gusty situation, and then you only add 1/2 the gust factor__like for instance, if the wind is gusting from 10-15, half the gust factor is 2.5__so it's not a lot faster, just a little.Good luck! After more than 36 years and some 2100+ hours, I still love to fly__and because I regularly fly into a small dirt strip where I used to keep my airplane, I get lots of practice with short and soft landings__and I'm good at it!Cary
Posted by Jim Robinson
@ 05:33 PM, June 17
I continue to admire your attitude and work ethic, even with a little natural frustration. All the while you're still recognizing the learning experience and the fun. Thanks for the info on the video setup, I hope I get the opportunity to try it. Regards,Jim Robinson