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Safety Tips On Takeoffs and Landings from Jim Behrens

As pilots, we seldom lose control of an aircraft in flight. My experience as an instructor has shown that pilots will more possibly lose control on take off or in the landing phase, with the landing the more likely, especially in a cross wind situation.

On takeoff, a pilot holds the aileron steady with the wind correction input placed by the yoke even before the airplane begins its take off roll. The pilot does not "steer' the aircraft with the yoke, but rather with rudder pedal inputs while holding the ailerons and yoke steady.

While on short final coming in for a landing, the pilot considers the angle of crab into the wind. Before touchdown, proper rudder and opposite aileron correction are used to land the airplane on the centerline'without crab'on speed and with the longitudinal axis of the aircraft in line with the runway.

It is after touchdown that pilots can lose control of the landing if they take the aileron correction out and level out the ailerons by leveling the yoke. If the pilot does this, the aircraft controls are not compensating for the wind effect on the wings and the aircraft can become uncontrollable in high crosswinds and even depart the runway.

An aircraft is a dumb thing. It doesn't know when it is on the runway if it is accelerating, decelerating, taking off, landing or even experiencing a ground abort. The point is, when the aircraft is on the runway, the pilot does not steer the airplane with ailerons and the yoke either on takeoff OR on landing.

Looking down the runway seems natural on takeoff, but the pilot must look down the runway on landing also. By looking to the far end of those 3000-4000 foot long runway, a pilot can use that end as a large attitude indicator. Keep the nose of the engine below the other end of the runway about two inches or so. Generally, if the nose is pitched up high enough to hide the other end of the runway, the airplane is in a take off attitude and not in a landing attitude. By looking down the runway length, the pilot can use the runway to indicate if the airplane is on the centerline, if there is a crab angle and also the rate that the aircraft is settling to touchdown. A pilot can make safer landings by using the far end of the runway as an attitude indicator and also by simply remembering that whenever the aircraft is on the runway, do NOT use the yoke to steer the airplane, but only to keep the wind correction input established.

Master CFI Jim Behrens is a former military pilot (C-141 transports), a first officer commercial pilot (B-727-200, B737-800, and Citation). He has more than 9,000 hours flight time. For ten years he has been instructing. He instructs at three airports in West Central Minnesota. His web site is:

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