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Spot Landings

Posted By:
Adam Smith
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
#1 Posted: 8/17/2009 20:33:00

EAA Chapter 766 is hosting a precision landing competition on August 29th, and I'm planning to give it a try.

Has anyone got any advice on techniques that wil help me touch down right on the line?

Brady Lane
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
#2 Posted: 8/17/2009 22:43:02

...fly a helicopter.  goggles

Just kidding.  This looks like a lot of fun.  WIsh I could attend this year but I'll be up north camping.

Do they do this every year?  If so, I'm going to start practicing.  

Anybody know typically, how close the winners are in contests like this?  

EAA 808095 Multimedia Journalist
Jesse Schoolcraft
#3 Posted: 8/18/2009 00:19:44

Let us know how you do Adam.

"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--- Leonardo da Vinci
Jerry Rosie
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
#4 Posted: 8/18/2009 06:50:33

It depends on the rules.  In one competition that I saw, the rules were that the landing was measured from the point that both mains remained firmly on the ground.  One guy won by landing on one wheel, holding that orientation until he rolled over the marking line and then dropped the up wheel right on the line.  When folks complained, he said, "Well, you can do the same thing on your next try."


Cheers, Jerry NC22375 out of 07N
James Scott
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#5 Posted: 8/20/2009 09:49:49

Adam- I have competed in a lot of spot landing contests. Here is the secret to winning everytime.

Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, and then add a little practice to top it off.

Good luck.

Charles Ward
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#6 Posted: 8/21/2009 12:46:58

   Its simple really. Power controls rate of decent and pitch controls speed. Nail the short field approach speed exactly and

use power to control glidepath. Oh, one more thing, practice, practice, practice.


Charles Ward

Gordon Robertson
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#7 Posted: 8/21/2009 13:19:23

When I was a youngster in the University Air Squadron in England, we flew DH Chipminks.  The various Air Squadrons all went in for a spot landing competiton.  I was chagrined to discover that the person who won did so by coming in slowly with full flaps at about 5 feet altitude until just before the mark, whereupon he dumped the flaps and dropped like a stone onto the correct point!   I considered it cheating, but he said it was innovative.  Go figure.

Dave Limmer
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#8 Posted: 8/21/2009 13:44:42

Hi Adam

The practise advice is the best advice out there.  As for technique to use, you may wish to consider the following alternative.

Firstly, when on finals, select an aim point which is short of the touchdown line.  By doing this you will take into account the additional distance beyond your finals aim point that you will use up during the flare.  In your practise sessions, while on finals, aim for a specific point on fthe runway and see where you generally touchdown in relation to that aim point.  This will indicate to you how far before the touchdown line in the spot landing competition you will have to aim for while on finals.

Next, when it comes to your aim point, when you roll out on finals on what appears to be the correct glidepath angle, actually point the aircraft at the aim point, i.e. use pitch to control your aim point.  Consequently, you will use power to control your airspeed.

We use the 3 x A  phrase "Aim point, Aspect, Airspeed" as the scan down finals.  That is, when you look out the front, you assess whether you are actually aiming (pointing)  at your selected aim point, at the same time, you assess whether your aspect is correct, i.e. whether you are high or low on your intended glidepath angle.

E.g. if you assess that your aim point is correct (correct pitch attitude selected) but you are high on your intended glidepath, then you aim the aircraft (lower your attitude) to select a new aim point short of your intended aim point.  This will bring you down on to your intended glidepath.  Of course, as you correct down on to your intended glidepath, your speed will want to increase, so you reduce power to maintain your airspeed at the correct approach speed.  Anticipating the correct glidepath, simultaneaously raise your attitude to reselect your intended aim point and increase power to maintain your approach speed.

The reverse applies when you are low on glidepath.

See how mormally that your pitch changes and power changes will tend to work together to maintain the correct flight path vector and airpeed.

How do you know what your aim point is? Answer -  If you fly a constant speed approach, that point in your windscreen that does not move is your aim point.  So if your selected aim point slowly moves up your windscreen as you progress down finals, you are actually aiming short of your intended aim point and consequently, you will end up on a lower glidepath than you want.  In this case, raise your attitude so your aim point does not move in your windscreen (and add a little power to prevent the speed reducing with your higher pitch attitude).

If you can peg your aim point, glidepath (aspect) and airspeed, just flare normally and your wheels will squeak on, right on the line.  (Wishful thinking!!)

Anyway, it's food for thought. 

Good luck.

Geff Galbari
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
#9 Posted: 8/21/2009 14:07:05

Practice and relax, know your airplane and know the rules of the event. I have taken part in several spot landing competitions and have judged many as well. I have won  a few firsts with my 1948 Taylorcraft against competition with much more time than myself. Most events will disqualify you if you touch down before the line, also some will ask you to make a "normal" approach to landing, that is they don't want you to drag it in under power and then drop it on the line. If possible it  helps to practice the day of the event so you get a feel for the local conditions. I find it works best to aim for a touch down point just short of the target line, again you have to know your aircraft and your flying style.

As far as how close to the line is typical, I have seen guys touch down within inches of the mark and I have seen some win with landings as far as 10 feet past the mark. It all depends on the competition and the conditions of the day. Most importantly relax, fly the airplane and enjoy the event!


G Galbari