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3 Point Landings

Guest Sabre

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Ok...I guess this is the biggest bug bear of most student pilots but I am finding that landing an aircraft is an art....


I have been attempting 3 point landings of late and I asked a CPL friend of mine if there was a trick to landing or did he have some inside information on doing the perfect landing but all he said was "you have to feel the aircraft".


I'd be interested to hear of any techniques or visual cues from those who have mastered the art of 3 point landings...:;)5:





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Guest pelorus32

Hi Sabre,


firstly I make no claim to know anything about landing...


Also I fly a tricycle gear aircraft...so different to a taildragger.


What I have found though is that landing is the last thing to begin to come together as I learn to fly. I think that this is about developing coordination and muscle memory to the point where my responses are automatic. If you think about landing it involves holding a very dynamic aircraft on the centreline and managing the rate of descent and the transition and the flare all in a way that leads to a good attitude and allows the aircraft to settle onto the ground. Then think about the fact that holding the centreline in a crosswind - at the flare means that at some point you have to transition to crossed controls....


Think about that another way: I guarantee that in the circuit you often find yourself drifting up or down 100 feet. Well that's probably twice the height of your transition and flare. But in the transition and flare the ground is there and you are having to respond to the runway as a reference and be very precise. Add to that that landings are all over in a few seconds and that you have to do an hour to get maybe 8 or 10 of them and it becomes difficult.


A mate of mine used to be a check captain on 747s I asked him what his references were in the flare. His answer: He'd asked a lot of his colleagues this in trying to help newer pilots to learn. Most of his colleagues can't tell you what they are focusing on and what their visual references are in the flare! I read another piece about landing where somebody asked a heavy jet pilot what is airspeed was at landing. His reply was that he had no idea as he was busy landing the aircraft. What is relevant to us though is that all of those guys know that to get a good landing they need to have conducted a spot on approach - stable, within tight parameters. If they can't stabilise their approach they are obliged to go around and often from 5-600 feet. The argument being that if your approach is not stable well before you get to the gorund then you have buckley's of doing a good landing. The ATSB report on the QF1 accident in Bangkok showed that they were high and fast - not very much too high and not very much too fast. But that started a chain of events that led to the golf course!!


FWIW the thing that has been drummed into me is to get the aircraft transitioned to a desired height and to use progressive back stick to arrest the descent of the aircraft that last few feet - in other words to keep it off the ground. Sounds easy but it isn't.


I also googled things like "landing flare" or "landing" and got some interesting articles with all sorts of theories about focusing on the point at which the runway appeared to smear across your vision in all directions - too complex for me and I have avoided smearing myself across the runway so far!!


Best of luck





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Believe it or not there's not much difference between landing a tailwheel and tricycle, it's after your on the ground the big difference is.


The idea is to land as slow as the Aircraft can in a tail low attitude. The flare is a gradual process, stating to slow the Aircraft as you come over the fence.


To me it's a curved descent, gradually getting slower and closer to the ground until at about a foot or so try to keep it at that height. Try to keep it at that height as long as you can, doesn't matter what the speed is at this point, that looks after it self. Just keep it flying as long as you can, when it quits it will be close enough to the ground to make a smooth touch down. The only thing to watch is the tail being too low, most Aircraft the elevator will run out of power about the same time you touch down.




There are many and varied explanations how to land, the KISS principal works best for a person such as myself with limited brain power. Flying the Aircraft is the most important thing and landing as slow as you can is the idea.



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I am with Student Pilot,


I converted over on a tail-dragger and was instructed to enter a low-level flight (around 5 ft off the ground). Keep at this low-level as long as possible regardless of speed, excess speed will wash off and the wheels will gently find the ground while you keep the aircraft level and balanced.


This can become difficult in cross-winds but is the most easiest and effective way, especially for comfort with no strain on the airframe.


A gentle flare up after the speed has washed off and just before wheels touch the ground (this takes practice to manage ground effect), basically entering into a mild stall should have you the perfect 3 pointer landing.


Very much similar to 3 axis aircraft.



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Just a few suggestions.


(1) Never learn on bitumin surface - it will prove very difficult. Grass is best to start on.


(2) Every aircraft 'sits' differently on the ground. Some have steep 'deck' angles, others sit very 'flat' due to having short main gear legs &/or, 'high' tailwheels. You need to flare into that angle before it stalls, or all 3 won't arrive together. Note where your line-of-sight cuts the windscreen,or cowling, when you are focussed on your end-of-runway aiming point.....take the aircraft onto the strip and sit in it there.


(3) Think about the flare in terms of several, deliberate, small, 'checking' inputs with your elevator. The 1st 'check' should be as the terrain rises in your peripheral vision, and it is simply to fly level with the surface. This is simultaneous with raising your eyes from the original 'aiming point' up to the end-of-runway aim point.


(4) I found it easier to use a glide approach to start with, because there are other effects happening when you reduce power in the flare.


(5) If the aircraft has flaps, use half or 2/3rds...which allows you a little more time to execute the flare.


There are books and books, and more books on tailwheel flying. David Robsons is an Aussie publication and certainly as good as any of the US stuff that I've read.


Btw, I'm talking from GA experience - have never flown a RAA t/w aircraft, so might just be completely off track !


happy days,



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What your saying certainly is a help and in most cases 'no different' from GA.. I think the only main thing with lighter aircraft e.g Thruster T500 is that if you flare too early,too fast or have a nasty gust of wind at a higher speed (no flaps and being so light) you will begin to climb again and enter a tricky situation as the aircraft will begin to stall. This will cause severe damage as you have no time to recover and will drop out of the sky from about 5-10 ft off the ground.


I have seen this happen before.. it is a nasty outcome to the under carriage.


Thats why it is important to judge your speed, ground effect and to perfect your 3 pointer landings.



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From my experience with taildraggers I think there are two critical points. One is knowing the three point attitude for the aircraft - sit in it on the ground for a while as has been suggested. The other is to get the approach numbers correct for the aircraft - approach too fast and it all becomes ugly !!



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Guest micgrace

Hi All


When first learning I actually sat out near the start of the strip at the appropriate ground height till appropriate flare height was engraved on the brain (back in the dawn of AUF) My landings were greatly improved by that simple and free technique.


High x wind conditions changes the "rules" on approach where you will need to come in much faster and be ready for the unexpected.


I use a somewhat higher than usually trained approach speed, except for flap equipped a/c eg allegro with limited max flap extension speed.


Then use the flare to wash off the speed while trying to fly level. Very easy on the stick. On touchdown, let it roll a few feet easing gently back on stick then full back. Of course you will need to feed in a little bit of rudder as it is less effective to avoid the impending ground loop.


Too much back stick and "boing" This is Drifter for you every landing is a 3 point or very close to due to the design.


Some suggestions, Micgrace



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Why use extra speed, surely you will have to wash off that speed before you land and with a cross wind you will be travelling across the strip unless you are heading into wind to allow for the drift, in which case you will have to judge when to kick it straight just before the wheels touch. The extra speed just means you are low and slow for longer than coming in at the correct speed which is what is in the P.O.H. usually.


Ian Borg



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Micgrace, I am just interested to know why you use extra speed? Its just giving you more time to flare out and level out, except it takes you longer to wash off and using more runway (which can be dangerous if a small strip or needing a 'go-around')?? I know every pilot has their own little landing techniques so am just interested... Do you find it easier having more time to flare out with more speed??



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Guest micgrace



I use some extra speed due to counteract a wind gradient that is usually present in x wind conditions! the extra 5 knots is gone by the time of flare On some strips it is worse or the difference is even higher. I should have explained it a bit better.


In perfectly still conditions I would approach at normal speed. There have been many craft written off on this particular strip (Boonah) ignoring this "minor" detail.





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