4. LESSON 18 - THE LANDING
- Use airbrakes to control the approach angle and elevator to control speed
- Round out at the correct height
- For landing look at far horizon
Learning how to land a glider smoothly is a significant part of your flight training. Like every other skill, your instructor will gradually teach you a bit of it at a time, but it will not be long before you fly every element of it yourself.
FINAL APPROACH (1)
Do you remember the key points from Lesson 4.11? During final approach, we assess the position of our reference point in the canopy and control it with the airbrakes. To control the speed, we use coordinate stick with airbrake. Our goal is to keep the approach speed constant throughout the approach until the round-out.
When you’re about 6 metres / 20 feet above the ground, it’s time to start the ‘round-out’. The objective here is to transition smoothly from the approach to flying parallel to the ground, just a couple of feet up. When it’s time to begin the round-out, stop adjusting the airbrake, and stop looking at either the airspeed indicator or the reference point. Instead focus your attention on the end of the landing field and the distant horizon - this will help you judge the glider’s height and how quickly it’s descending. Smoothly move the stick rearwards to arrest your descent, until the glider is flying parallel to the ground just a few feet in the air.
HOLD OFF TOUCHDOWN (3)
The key for a successful landing is to leave the airbrake position fixed and look ahead to the far horizon. With your attention there, use the elevator to slowly raise the nose as you fly parallel to the ground until the glider is in the two-point touchdown attitude that your instructor will have previously shown you. Now stop moving the elevator, and allow the glider to settle into a smooth, two point, landing - well done!
GROUND RUN (4)
Reaching the ground does not mean that your work is finished. You now need to do the following things, all at the same time:
- Select full airbrake
- Apply wheel brake – gently!
- Progressively bring the stick back all the way
- Use ailerons, all by themselves, to keep the wings level for as long aspossible
- Use the rudder, by itself, to keep straight
MOST COMMON LANDING ERRORS
The most common landing errors are starting the round-out too high (5) or too low (6). Your instructor will show you how to judge this visually. Another common error is looking just over the nose at the place where you want to land during round-out, making it impossible to get the round-out correct. Instead, be sure to look at the far horizon.
Advanced pilots sometimes adjust the airbrake position while landing and it is possible to fine-tune a landing by varying the airbrakes during the round-out. However, while you’re learning it’s important for you to keep them constant. Trust us: keep them in position and you’ll master the landing much sooner.