Johnny Can Read, But He Can't Land

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Landing an airplane might not be particularly difficult, but doing it well consistently—especially in gusty conditions—isn't easy. Year after year, this is reflected in the NTSB database. The leading type of accident for most aircraft is what we call R-LOCs or runway loss of control. This broad category describes a multitude of aeronautical blunders—from crosswind-induced excursions, to drop-ins, to landing long or short or just running into stuff. (Runway lights, localizer bars and, yes, cows.)

Lately, I've been researching LSA accidents and here the R-LOC problem is more pronounced. This is no surprise; LSAs are lightly wing loaded and most have much lighter control forces than do even the lightest certified aircraft, say the Cessna 152. Just as an example, I compared the R-LOC rate for 10 of the most popular LSAs to that for Cessna 152. It's more than five times higher. In other words, on a per-hour occurrence basis, LSAs have five times more R-LOCs than do 152s.

A caveat here: There aren't that many LSAs flying so the fleet numbers aren't high. Small number effect applies, meaning a few occurrences can swing the conclusion significantly. Nonetheless, that's all the data we've got, so it's fair game to consider it. Also, when accidents are considered on a per-registration basis as a sanity check, the trend is the same.

Why is this so? Can't pilots be trained to master the light control forces LSAs have? Yes, they can, say instructors I've spoken to. But LSAs still may be more difficult to land. In a Cessna 150 or 152, a CFI can let the landing go fairly far awry before assuming control because those airplanes are more durable and also more likely to right themselves without aggressive intervention. LSA instructors say you can't sit on your hands quite as long in Flight Design or a Remos.

Some instructors say the majority of, or at least many, LSA R-LOCs happen to older pilots who are transitioning from traditional airplanes into LSAs because they're worried about their medicals. They're used to heavier control forces and overcontrol the LSAs. The data I have doesn't shed light on this because NTSB summaries don't always contain pilot age and experience data for minor accidents. But the larger question isn't so much why, but what to do to improve landing skills. Additional beatings with rolled up sectionals probably aren't going to work.

One instructor I spoke with, Tim Busch, who runs Iowa Flight Training in Cedar Rapids, wonders whether simulators might play a role. Companies like his and Redbird Simulations are increasingly considering simulators as the primary teaching tool before the pilot even gets into the airplane. I think the idea has legs.

But for landings? I'm open minded, but I'm not so sure. Of all the tasks in flying, landing requires the most refined motor skills and hand-eye coordination in reaction to a stream of subtle cues. Some LSAs require more of that rather than less. When I was at Oshkosh last July, Jerry Gregoire put me in Redbird's novel J-3 simulator. (Here's a video.) They got the flight dynamics mostly right, but after landing it, I told Gregoire the sim just didn't bounce on the runway the way a real Cub would. Actually, it didn't bounce at all. Without that dynamic built in, you don't have a simulator, you have a video game. And not all bounces are the same. The small ones you get on a three-pointer can be ignored, but the 10-footers with roll excursions have to be dealt with aggressively. I suggested running up the gain on the runway touchdown, which he said they did. I never got a chance to try it again.

Even so, what separates an acceptable landing from one that's bound for the ditches are often subtle cues related to seat-of-the-pants sensing of acceleration, turning and slipping moments. You feel these in your butt or see them through the windshield and you respond with the appropriate control input. Sometimes that's gentle and subtle, sometimes not. But the airplane moving in three dimensions helps you discern the difference. Sims get close to that, but they don't nail it. Yet.

Some schools say it takes students longer to solo in an LSA than a heavier airplane, some say there's no difference. Personally, I've flown most of the LSAs and even though I should be one of those over-controlling geezers, I don't recall having difficulty with any of them. Well, one. The Czech Sport Cruiser's control forces are so light that it takes several passes to learn how not to PIO the thing on both landing and takeoff. You can master such an airplane, no doubt. But it would certainly be better if it were easier.

The countervailing theory is that if you can land an LSA, you can land anything. That's a version of the flying-a-taildragger-makes-you-a-better-pilot argument. I've never bought that, by the way. Flying a taildragger makes you a taildragger pilot and that's about it.

Of the 10 LSAs studied, four have no fatal accidents at all: Jabiru, Flight Design, Aeropro and the Cessna Skycatcher. Despite the low fleet hours, that's an impressive record, in my view. What's more interesting is that the LSA composite fatal rate is about 1.2/100,000—exactly what it is for the rest of GA. On the other hand, 10 of the 12 fatal accidents belong to three models: Evektor, Czech Sport Cruiser and Remos. As far as the overall accident rate for these 10 LSAs, it's about twice the GA average at 12.6/100,000 hours. That reflects the high incidence of landing accidents. (The overall rate for the Cessna 152 is about 1.8 and the restart 172s are near 4.3.)

What does all this mean? Two things, as I see it. One, before we can draw meaningful conclusions, we need five more years of data from LSA flying. While the fatal trend isn't bad, the overall rate needs work. It might trend downward as flying hours increase. Second, driving the overall rate down will be a challenge. Five years from now, maybe sim training will take a bite out of it.

CORRECTION ADDED 10/2/12: Tecnam has one fatal accident.

Comments (44)

Paul; I've been told by several people that the Skycatcher flies much like the Cessna 152. Is it your experience that they are very similar with regards to control forces?

Posted by: Joe Sikora | September 30, 2012 10:30 PM    Report this comment

My aircraft is basically the homebuilt version of the Czech Sport Cruiser. When I transitioned from the Warriors and Cherokees I was renting, I became aware of the increased sensitivity of pitch and general lighter touch needed for control. But after I got used to it, I liked the change, it really didn't seem harder to land, for me at least. It does take a bit more attention in windy conditions, though.

For me, a high wing 152 (I haven't flown a high wing LSA) is a bit more challenging to land in gusts than my low wing LSA. That's been my experience.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 1, 2012 12:13 AM    Report this comment

It would be helpful to note if the issue just isn't failure to get transition training at all. People are more likely to get training when moving to higher performance aircraft aren't they? How many decided the minimum was enough when moving to to an LSA where procedures seem simple but the stick and rudder skills require more finesse. We all believe we are better with a stick than we likely are.

Posted by: Eric Warren | October 1, 2012 2:25 AM    Report this comment

I've been flying only LSA airplanes for over three years now - 2 years in a Tecnam Echo and one in my home-built Zodiac XL. Both of these planes are high end Light Sport designs.

I find landing the Zodiac to be very easy. Perhaps that is because I had two years of LSA before flying it. The Tecnam was difficult to land. In both cases the light wing loading and light weight play into the landing issue.

I found landing the Tecnam required precise airspeed control. If I cross the numbers at exactly 52 KIAS it lands beautifully. At 50 it won't flare at all - it just slams into the ground. At 54 it floats forever down the runway after flaring.

The Zodiac is less sensitive to airspeed. It also has a non-existent stall characteristic. It only mushes rather than dropping the nose in an approach stall. The low wing configuration seems to make flaring for landing more effective. Perhaps the ground effect is greater with the wing so close to the ground.

I think there are two big things at work that make landing LSA much more tricky than older certified planes. The light weight means a lot less inertia. This can make precise airspeed control on landing more critical. Also the slow stall speed along with light wing loading means flying with higher winds - especially crosswinds - can be a very poor choice.

Remember that LSA are not designed to a docile handling spec like part 23 planes are. They can be very slippery and challenging even for experienced part 23 pilots.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | October 1, 2012 5:20 AM    Report this comment

Let me add one more general comment on LSA.

These planes have at most 2 seats and look like old style trainers such as C-150. That leads many people to think they will handle like trainers. That can be a fatal mistake.

There are over a hundred different airplane designs that meet the Light-Sport airplane specification. This includes 80 or so S-LSA and others that are part 23 or E-AB certified. Just like other classes of airplanes each design flies differently from all the other ones.

It is easy to underestimate the challenge of landing one of these designs because the pilot in question knows how to land a different one. This is equivalent to thinking you can land a Bonanza because you can land a 150.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | October 1, 2012 5:27 AM    Report this comment

I flew the Skycatcher and the controls are definitely light. The control force comparison between the 152 and Skycatcher are not the same. The key is to use the control pressure technique rather than control movement. The index fingers and thumb is all you have to use exerting pressure on the stick. I had to remind myself to think control pressure since the very light force was not second nature on my first Skycatcher flight. The light control forces can be mastered.

Posted by: Charles Lloyd | October 1, 2012 5:28 AM    Report this comment

Joe, I found the Skycatcher to have lighter perceived pitch forces than the 150 or 152, although I didn't measure it. I didn't find it to be a problem, although in gusty or thermally conditions, I could see how it might be.

I should also mention that there are at least two LSAs originally designed as heavier airplanes--up to 1650 pounds--the Paradise P1 and Jabiru. Both have noticeably heavier pitch feel. I don't know if this accounts for Jabiru's low accident occurrence, but the correlation is interesting.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2012 6:02 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I don't agree with you on the subject of control forces. I am a very low time pilot and so eveything is amplified and all of my senses are working overtime at landing and take off. Regardless of the force required any over-reaction could cause an accident. The Remos I found to be very flighty and struggled at first to taxi smoothly so when taking-off was slightly nervous [was this machine going to track down the runway as badly as it did on the taxiway?]. Those cues that you talk about, ultimately give you the control but take hours to digest and connect to piloting anything. I DO agree with you on the use of sims though, especially if they behave as the real aircraft does. If you get the picture of what a landing should look like, then the eye hand co-ordination sorted [regardless of the force] the deviations due to local conditions such as gusts should come quickly as the student is in a different comfort zone.

Posted by: Geoff Waldron | October 1, 2012 6:34 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I agree with you on simulators and practice landings. My instructior insisted I go out and practice a lot of take-offs and landings in a C-152 in all (reasonable) weather conditions. I developed a 'feel' for each C-152 (or other airplane later) I flew and could tell how each one was doing based on sound, motion, engine, etc. as much as doing my checklists and checking the instruments.

Simulators have the potential to provide valuable training in certain areas, but it will be hard for them to provide realistic training in some asreas such as take-offs and landing, without all the senses being stimulated to provide a real training environment. A good example of this is my oldest grandson, he had been using a flight simulator at home and found it hard to understand why the real thing did not follow the same rules - especially the pedals which were not included with his simulator.

Finally, I've never had the opportunity to fly a S-LSA, but one of the guys in the office has a CT and he commented on learning the sensitive controls.

Posted by: Richard Norris | October 1, 2012 6:52 AM    Report this comment

I found transitioning to the Zodiac to be hard in landing because of the light elevator forces. The ailerons are, by comparison, pretty heavy. Directional control was never an issue for me, but the required light touch on the elevator made for some...interesting arrivals and a few go-arounds when I was learning.

I, too, would love to know how much of this is just a lack of transition training.

And, Paul M, congratulations on getting your Zodiac flying!

Posted by: Jay Maynard | October 1, 2012 7:35 AM    Report this comment

Thanks, Jay.

I just signed the Zodiac out of Phase I after 14 months of flight testing.

I agree with you about the control forces in pitch and roll. Yaw forces aren't notable, but there is no yaw stability when the nose is +/- 11 degrees from straight. Also forward slips in that range have no impact on approach path.

All this talk about control forces bothers me. I think the best way to fly any airplane is to apply whatever force and motion to controls needed to get the attitude you want. Pilots who think about forces and movement have a much harder time transitioning to other planes.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | October 1, 2012 7:59 AM    Report this comment

The thing you have to remember about transition training is that it's not one and done. If you get the training you probably need to repeat it and fly enough to keep your skills sharp. In an LSA, there's a very thin line between a sloppy landing and one that winds up in a ditch. If the airplane is characteristically a little difficult to land, the a pilot is more likely to be susceptible to a rust-induced landing accident.

This is not limited to LSAs. Bar none, the Cessna 182 has the highest incidence of landing accidents. Last time we ran the numbers, 58 percent of all 182 accidents were R-LOCs and they were virtually the same: The airplane requires more control force to flare on the mains and when pilots get lazy, they land on the nosegear first. Results are always the same. The nosegear collapses or bends and the firewall is damaged.

I've always seen this as a design shortcoming for the 182. It just requires more of its pilots and isn't as forgiving as other airplanes are.

Same applies to some LSAs, it would appear.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2012 8:08 AM    Report this comment

When I checked out on our flights school's Sport Cruiser, I got into a such bad case of PIO on climb out that I finally had to just let go and let the plane settle out. I stopped doing intro flights in it because I was slammed into the canopy a few too many times by non-pilots pushing too hard on the stick. The owners finally gave up and sold the plane because no one would fly it twice. The plane got the nickname "Sport Bruiser". The fellow that bought it pushed over so hard on the test flight that he launched the fire extinguisher out of the way back though the canopy. I guess you could say the stick forces are light.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | October 1, 2012 8:12 AM    Report this comment

"If you get t If the airplane is characteristically a little difficult to land, the a pilot is more likely to be susceptible to a rust-induced landing accident."

Nice article Paul...but is the "rust-induced landing" caused by the airplane or pilot being rusty ?

Rgds... Mike Weidhaas

Is the

Posted by: Michael Weidhaas | October 1, 2012 8:27 AM    Report this comment

"The fellow that bought it pushed over so hard on the test flight that he launched the fire extinguisher out of the way back though the canopy. I guess you could say the stick forces are light."

Holy cow! Really?

Mike, rust-induced landing...etc. It has to do with how docile the airplane is in various flight regimes. One that's very forgiving will be less likely to put the ham-fisted pilot into extremis. In other words, the gentle airplane will give the rusty pilot a higher threshold than a skittish one will.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2012 8:36 AM    Report this comment

Paul M.

Perfect comment ... pay attention to how much input affects the aircraft, with your butt and eyes ! eg ... if you start pilot induced oscillations ... STOP moving the stick so much !n This, of course, applies to one with some apptitude for pilot skills.

"All this talk about control forces bothers me. I think the best way to fly any airplane is to apply whatever force and motion to controls needed to get the attitude you want. Pilots who think about forces and movement have a much harder time transitioning to other planes."

Posted by: Jim Vroom | October 1, 2012 8:37 AM    Report this comment

Ah, the old nosedragger versus taildragger pilot debate. There is a reason pilots must get taildragger endorsements and not the other way around. I've learned that conventional landing gear airplane will magnify any bad landing habits. Nosedragger airplane will coverup bad habits and make bad pilots. It amazes me all the things these nosedragger pilots do other than fly the airplane too. Playing with that stupid radio. Never looking out the cockpit... instead they fly the airplane with the glass panel all the way to the runway. Playing with the IPAD. Landing in a full crab. Crappiest landing I've ever seen was the A380 landing at Oshkosh. Knucklehead landed with a full crab. Try landing sideways in a taildragger and you'll be ground looping faster than you can say AVEMCO. My uninsured Pietenpol Aircamper is cheap to fly unless you hit something on or off the runway. Poor Piety has been ground looped more times than I can count. Fabric on both wing tips have been repaired with high speed tape several times. Hit several runway lights. Busted our wooden prop on a runway light. Destroyed horizontal stabilizer with the PAPI. Hitting the PAPI was a costly one. It earned one member many uncomfortable conversations with law enforcement from every level of our ever expanding police state. Take my advice, don't try to be cool and land on the numbers. Instead, land past the PAPI,.... in case you forget to undo that crab again, or the brakes "lock-up" on ya.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | October 1, 2012 9:27 AM    Report this comment

Andre, Regarding the A-380 landing at Oshkosh, he landed that way because he had a 30knot, 90 degree crosswind, and needed to get stopped by the midfield taxiway, since that was the only one that had the width needed to turn onto. I regard it as a fine example of pilot skill.

Posted by: Jim KLick | October 1, 2012 10:10 AM    Report this comment

I now have 150h on an Avid taildragger(like a Kitfox). The control forces are light, but don't cause a problem as soon as you become accustomed to them. What does contribute to control difficulties is the low weight per surface area, both wing loading and side surfaces when there are gusty crosswinds. With a stall speed in the low 30s a 10mph gust requires an active response regardless of its orientation to the runway.

One helpful exercise when I was learning tailwheel flying was just driving the airplane around on the taxiways, runways and grass for a while. When you're renting a plane you can hear the $ burning as soon as you start the engine, and the temptation is to spend all of your time in the air. But if you're 100% confident in the ground handling of your taildragger it removes one aspect of the landing so that you can focus on flare, runway alignment, etc just as you should in any other plane.

Simulators (to me) are worthless for anything but navigation and IFR training. They give no tactile feedback and lack the ability to allow depth perception. Wind effects also don't translate well and just feel random in a simulator environment.

Posted by: K. Murphy | October 1, 2012 10:23 AM    Report this comment

Paul B. The 182 is a real pussycat once you learn a little trick for landing. Instead of using your athletic prowess to perform the flare on landing use the monstrous engine. A short burst of power at flare time pops the nose up and arrests the descent at the same time. Once the nose is in the right attitude it is easy to hold it there.

I've noticed a lot of airline pilots use the same trick on landing the heavy iron. A short burst of power at flare time works wonders - probably true on any heavy nosed airplane.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | October 1, 2012 10:54 AM    Report this comment

I wrote an article entitled "Why Can't Johnny Land" and its been on my website (currently being overhauled),for almost ten years. Here's the deal. Johnny can't land because more and more flight instructors have less and less of a concept of, and a fewer valid techniques to teach, aircraft control. AND, we live in an age of electronic flight navigation systems that draw our attention further inside the cockpit. Ask a dozen flight instructors or pilots this question; "How does a pilot control an airplane in flight?". You will likely get a lot of different answers but probably not the correct one which is this. We control the airplane by using the flight controls to change (or maintain) it's attitude. We do this while observing the relationship of the airframe to the natural horizon while flying VFR. We DO NOT make control inputs while looking at the instruments that ultimately will register the result of our attitude changes. Read chapter 3 of the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook. It is well written, and for the most part is right on. I won't take the space here to quote but seriously, it is so relevant to this question; a must read.

In addition to the above issue, we have the whole idea of light sport; often less experienced instructors teaching students a shorter course because these students do not want to make the commitment to train and test for the full private pilot certificate. Expectations are lower, experience levels are lower (often).

Posted by: Charles McDougal | October 1, 2012 11:04 AM    Report this comment

K. Murphy - I agree with you about all your points except the one about simulators being worthless. There is a certain amount of value that can be gained in setting up an approach using a graphic simulator. The student can learn the proper alignment using the apparent shape of the runway and position relative to the center line. This may seem like a small gain for all the effort, but it is amazing how many pilots can't really tell when they are properly lined up on final approach with just their eyes looking at the runway.

For this kind of visual training many flight simulation video games work just as well as fancy "Official" flight simulators.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | October 1, 2012 11:28 AM    Report this comment

Jim K. Your being facetious of course. A380 landing at Oshkosh was nothing less than a crash. I was sure the airplane would be grounded to check damage to the airframe. A good pilot has a good attitude. I'm not talking about the kind of attitude related to one's personality. Landing in a full crab is never a good attitude to have in the flare. Never heard that excuse about making the first taxiway. I would be red faced and saying the same thing if I performed a landing like that in front of thousands of my peers. Hats off to the structural engineers at Airbus. A380 is a fine example of engineering. Too bad all that weight has to be added to compensate for such god awful piloting.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | October 1, 2012 11:29 AM    Report this comment

Simulators have a long way to go before they will ever be useful for improving landing skills. If I flew a real airplane the way I try to land with a simulator, I doubt I would walk away with a simulator 'reset'. The visual cues and imagery in the simulator both lack what I see outside through a real windshield. If you fly it by the numbers (vs visually), you can get close, but that is not how you would really fly a final approach. Did you see that gust change the fetch pattern in the pond, or the leaves and branches on that tree moving? When the graphics and depth precipitation match what I can see in a real aircraft, perhaps the training will be more helpful for potential R-LOC situations.

Posted by: John Salak | October 1, 2012 11:53 AM    Report this comment

For those who missed it: AVweb video "A380 Hard Landing at Oshkosh"

Posted by: Adam Hunt | October 1, 2012 12:08 PM    Report this comment

Sorry looks like AVweb is stripping out links to even their own videos. Just search You Tube for "A380 Hard Landing at Oshkosh"

Posted by: Adam Hunt | October 1, 2012 12:09 PM    Report this comment

Hold on a second while I punch off this MAJOR HYPERBOLE CAS warning light. The A380 landing wasn't a "crash." It wasn't even close. It was a hard, ugly landing, but the airplane survived just fine. Here's an Avweb video of it. (

And the wind wasn't 30 knots. Check the METARs for the entire day and you'll see it was 10 to 12, gusting to 17. Direct crosswind, short field landing in a lightly loaded super jumbo and you're expecting pretty?

That ain't too sporting.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2012 12:13 PM    Report this comment

Adam, we have to strip the links. Otherwise, you'll be getting buried in spam for knockoff Rolex watches and cheap Italian boots.

See the message above for the acceptable way to get a link to take. It won't be clickable, though. Will require cut and paste.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2012 12:51 PM    Report this comment

I'm not sure there is relevance to transport-category jets landing in a crab and the argument of "nose-gear vs taildragger pilots". These jets are actually designed to land in a crab, during windy/gusty conditions. (I don't have a reference at the moment, though).

As for simulators being useful for flight training, it depends on how you train in them. If you go into "the box" thinking "this is just a sim", you're not going to have the right mindset to be able to effectively transfer what you learn to the real thing.

Regarding new instructors being unable to teach landings, I think that's blaming the symptom, not the cause. I'm noticing a trend of blaming instructors for every deficiency a pilot may have, which seems to me as just an excuse to blame someone else. If the "system" allows pilots to become instructors that don't take the job seriously or are poor teachers, blame that first.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | October 1, 2012 12:52 PM    Report this comment

airbus rudder pedals have been subject to NPRM due to a PIO inducing design, associated with the tail that fell of in the post 9/11 crash, possibly a cause of the A380 situation. The light wing loading and low speeds bring up the issue of 'should we have spoilers?'. Do the tails loose effectivness at low speeds and the need for higher rate of change/high angles and if they were larger and or 'all moving' should over control be discouraged by preloaded spring steps found in the last iteration of the Ercoupe design?

Posted by: Francis Gentile | October 1, 2012 12:59 PM    Report this comment

oops, Ill say that again A Dutch painters grid on the windshield and yarn outside like the Wright brothers could be an allowable/affordable modification that might help. I think aviation change can only occur in a commercial environment were pilots must obey, as GA is too fashion and self image driven. I would like to buy a taildragger puddle jumper for testing in the Los Angeles basin, anybody wants in on the project uav at bourgeois-dynamics dot com is a contact point.

Posted by: Francis Gentile | October 1, 2012 1:14 PM    Report this comment

There was the fellow who makes the simpleish ground crosswind trainer that had a kind seat movement thing, I have never tried it. the whole idea of steering with feet is an artifact of early ease of fabrication, that we continue to embrace, as I suppose it keeps or used to keep proffessional pilot wages higher? Or the world wars artificially ingrained designs that happened to be popular at the time.

Posted by: Francis Gentile | October 1, 2012 1:20 PM    Report this comment

Damping is different from control forces, the old planes had low aspect tails with rounded ends which have higher damping and larger angle of attack before stalling(see flying flapjack naca papers). High aspect tailplanes were to give some trivial improment in cruise trim efficiency,but for example there was that piper that had to have upsidedown slats on the tail to keep it from stalling on approach. Which brings up Flaps, are we better off with out them, they make the main wing stall at a lower visual deck angle perception, they increase the work the tail has to do to flare.

Posted by: Francis Gentile | October 1, 2012 4:36 PM    Report this comment

One last thought in favor of LSAs. Though they might be harder (sometimes) to land, having plenty of recent hours as PIC makes every pilot more proficient. One of my friends owns a 182, burning $70-80 of Avgas per hour. Compared to my $20/hr burn rate he has a strong disincentive to go up just to fly around without a purpose in mind. Even if a pilot can afford it, the expense is always in the back of your mind and I doubt I could justify spending the money to fly >100h a year in a heavier plane. In my case my experimental LSA has allowed me to put on a lot of tailwheel time that I couldn't have afforded in someone elses Citabria, 180 or Maule.

Posted by: K. Murphy | October 1, 2012 4:55 PM    Report this comment

Landing is energy management, LSA's bleed off energy quickly. You can practice this at altitude by flying at different attitudes at constant altitude, this directly relates to speed. This practice will eventually enable the pilot to understand the changes in the response of the controls at different speeds. This effect is more pronounced with airframes where the the control surfaces are large and the control forces reduce as the speed drops but the effectiveness doesn't. (some what of a generalization but you get the idea.) So once the candidate has mastered a range of speeds down to just above the stall and feels comfortable, not over controlling, then it is time to link changes of speed. Reduce power steadily holding altitude and maintaining control. Now go and practice some landings. Look at the power settings to prevent the transition from fast to slow being too quick, LSA's don't have a lot of inertia so speed decay can be rapid and the ground may not be near enough. Being comfortable with basic handling at different speeds is essential. Don't drive it, become part of it.

Posted by: Peter Blacklin | October 2, 2012 9:16 PM    Report this comment

My tupence worth: stay away from PC style simulators they are dangerous. Using a full blown all moving sim is first class but the static ones do nothing. Back in that late 70 I obtained once of the first versions of Flight Simulator and had to learn how to fly the software. You are looking out the front all the time and can't see sideways (changing the screen takes time and is a distraction). There are no feelings (side movements, pitches etc) so flying the sim and landing is very different and even the latest ver. has the same problems. One thing in its favour is that you can crash and walk away from it without injury :-)

Posted by: Bruce Savage | October 3, 2012 5:26 AM    Report this comment

K Murphy, I agree with the idea: more flight time in an aircraft develops better skills.

However, you need to keep in mind a new S-LSA is typically $125K plus. If you already own the 182 (or other GA aircraft) and even if you can sell it for the down payment, it is difficult to justify the expense of a new S-LSA to save some gas dollars - especially if you base it on a typical GA pilot flying less than 100 hours a year.

With E-LSA someone ends up investing a lot of 'sweat equity' to build the aircraft that time and dollar investment needs to be considered when comparing an E-LSA to any GA aircraft.

Posted by: Richard Norris | October 3, 2012 6:08 AM    Report this comment

$125K! Egads man, think of Cubs, Champs, CallAirs, Luscombes, Ercoups, etc; under $25K. Not quite as fast or sexy as the new stuff, but affordable, fun and honest certified airplanes.

Posted by: Richard Montague | October 3, 2012 8:54 AM    Report this comment

Rolled up sectional? There's your problem right there. Fear-based learning depends on the reasonable apprehension of something properly fearsome.

Posted by: john hogan | October 3, 2012 9:19 AM    Report this comment

Rolled up sectional? There's your problem right there"

Maybe if you're young. But for us older folks that Paul was referencing, it doesn't take much to feel the point from just about anything. :-)

Bruce, my thought is anything can be used for personal knowledge, because learning has no limits. When I was learning to land, the flight simulator I had at home helped me develop a needed focus for down the runway line of sight, and carried over to my landing practice. I practiced stall recovery techniques too, on the sim. It helped a bit for muscle memory for me.

What might be the real danger in simulators is their capacity. They are getting and will get so close to the real thing that they might become our GA double-edged sword, replacing the cost, training, and the paperwork and pain of ground loops and R-LOC's forever. Look what is happening with the communications industry. The times they are a'changing.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 3, 2012 1:48 PM    Report this comment

"Fear-based learning depends on the reasonable apprehension of something properly fearsome."

You're right, of course. But I haven't found the time to bandsaw off the end my softball bat so I can get sufficient swing room in an LSA.

A TASER perhaps?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 3, 2012 2:37 PM    Report this comment

My CFI used to eat garlic and blue cheese before a lesson. When he leaned close to berate me for stupidity, his breath was all the incentive I needed to get it right. I pretty well learned to fly while holding my breath.

Posted by: Richard Montague | October 3, 2012 3:02 PM    Report this comment

You have to know when to go around and try again. Here is video of a landing accident someone sent me years ago.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | October 5, 2012 5:38 PM    Report this comment

Has anyone tried gusty crosswind landings in a Full Motion Redbird FMX, I have and its very good practice. How about using the Redbird X-wind trainer? Sims are getting pretty good these days.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | October 5, 2012 9:42 PM    Report this comment

Add your comments

Log In

You must be logged in to comment

Forgot password?


Enter your information below to begin your FREE registration