How Does A Pilot Make Good Landings? (5 Smooth Feelings)

Twin-engine aircraft landing. Quote, Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first.
The Thrill Of Flying.

When I was working as a Company Training Officer and Check Airman I found that many pilots had forgotten the importance of the rudder pedals. They are quite useful in making coordinated turns and crosswind landings. This brings to light the question: How Does A Pilot Make Good Landings?

How Does A Pilot Make Good Landings?

Practice is the only item that a pilot can do to improve landings. Excellent hand-to-eye coordination, situational awareness, and judgment skills are totally essential. Familiarity with the aircraft being flown is mandatory..

How Does A Pilot Make Good Landings?

1. Let’s Be Honest, Just The Facts.

The truth is, landing an airplane is darn hard and quite frightening when beginning, but we cannot be precise without practice.

No doubt there will be hard and bouncy landings and some that are smooth. Those are the landings that will leave you wondering, long after you have learned the art! No pilot is exempt from making a poor landing.

I have pulled some terrible antics on landing, the most demoralizing being a botched landing at about 500 TT in a Cessna 182 with a lady that I wanted to impress. OOPS.

After about 5000 hours, I had a darn hard landing in a King Air flying into the sun. descending into fog on an ILS and misjudged the runway and flew the airplane into the runway thresh hold and hit hard.

It might not have been so bad if an airline crew not seen it and made a comment on the radio.

My point is that it takes hours to learn and lots of practice to perfect landings, and never lose your situational awareness. It can be catastrophic!

1. Where Are Your Eyes?

From your first flight, your instructor taught you to use visual references as your guide for flying the airplane. It is essential for a student pilot to begin learning these cues from day one of training. If this training takes hold you might have a chance to “get it,” early.

Get very accustomed to looking in and out of the airplane and using cues for your maneuvers especially, cues you were taught to be looking for on landing.

Once you are flying your downwind leg and have a moment to prepare, it’s time to note your point of intended landing on the runway. Turn your crosswind at a 45-degree angle to your point and control power for your turn to final and fly the airplane to the runway.

They taught me to look to the very far end of the runway because it allowed my peripheral vision to help judge proximity to the touchdown.

This worked well for all of my years landing aircraft.

2. Where Are Your Feet

Rudders are those pedals your feet rest on when you are in the pilot seat. They really do have a purpose.

I know this is condescending, however; it is easy to become complacent after spending hours flying in cruise.

I have flown with many pilots that needed to be reminded of the necessity of proper use of rudder pedals.

They are most important in crosswind landings and you simply never master crosswind landings without rudders.

3. Keep It Simple.

Have a good plan. If a pilot takes each segment of the landing and completes each segment in sequence, the workload becomes quite manageable.

This alleviates the anxiety of making a good landing. After all, we judge pilots on how they land the plane and the pressure on a pilot to make a good landing can result in a very bad outcome.

The downwind leg of the landing gives us the time to plan and set our speed. Slow things down and prepare for the base and final legs. Stay on speed using pitch and power and be diligent.

Once on final, it is just pitch and power to maintain speed and rudder and aileron to maintain a straight final approach.

4. Practice.

I have landed an aircraft successfully and safely, (not all pretty), from the Cessna 150 to the Boeing 737 my whole career. There is just no other way to learn to land except by practicing.

I can still screw up a landing because of a diversion that takes my attention away, resulting in a hard landing. I am embarrassed, but a good landing is one that you walk away from.

There are many factors that involve doing your best to land an aircraft.

I thought I was pretty sharp and knew my stuff at about 3 to 400 hours of flight time and then I flew to the West Coast and picked a short grass strip in Forks, WA. The result was a quick learning experience with density altitude.

They trained me at airports that were around  3000 feet MSL, (Mean Sea Level), and I spaced out the improved performance of aircraft at sea level.

5. Hand To Eye Coordination.

This is an area that some pilots don’t have any problem with while others struggle. It is an absolute necessity in aviation. It is a learned skill that gets honed through time.

I was lucky to have grown up on a ranch, as it gave me some heads-up on learning hand-to-eye skills.

In an airplane, your eyes must interpret what the airplane is doing by the instruments and react with your arms and legs instantaneously.

I like to always give the all-knowing, FAA. (Federal Aviation Administration), so credit so I will add a link to their landing handbook here.


No one that I have ever known who is a pilot has ever bragged that they have always made great landings. You will get better with experience.

All we can do is strive for perfection.

There is so much truth in the words, “Flying is the Second greatest thrill known to man, Landing is the First.”

It is and has always been the measure of a pilot’s skill.

My greatest lesson in landing airplanes was to realize I could make a less-than-perfect landing and move on, but learn from it.

There is no time to beat yourself up. it is just practice and practice, especially when you are starting out.

Just always work on being the very best that you can.

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Related. How Often Should I Fly To Be Safe? (4 Proficiency Thoughts)


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