The following stories from the August 13, 2010, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.
Only an option
When you began learning to land your training aircraft, someone may have offered the observation that landing “is only an option.” What did that mean?
It means that in most cases it’s not mandatory to plop the aircraft onto the ground if you just aren’t ready. If a landing approach has gone well and you are in a position to land, do so. But if not, there are alternatives.
The most obvious alternative is to go around. To fully accept the idea that landing is only an option, a pilot must be well-practiced and comfortable with go-around (balked landing) procedures. “Go-arounds are telltale about technique and reactions. When a landing goes awry, punch it up and get out of there. Don’t bungle the maneuver by raising the flaps all at once, or uttering irate commentary on the radio, or hauling back on the yoke in alarm. Hit that throttle, close the carb heat. A nose-down swipe at the trim and some instinctive forward yoke will prevent excessive pitch-up as the engine comes alive,” Dan Namowitz wrote in the June 2009 AOPA Pilot feature “ Technique: Instinctive response.”
Another alternative, if smaller pre-landing adjustments are needed, is to delay touchdown, runway length permitting. Add a touch of power and level off in ground effect (see the Jan. 31, 2003, “ Training Tip: Playing the float.”) Then complete your roundout and flare. Many landing difficulties reside in a pilot’s flare. Thomas A. Horne identified its elements in the September 2003 AOPA Pilot article “ Touchdown!”: “This stage begins just a few feet—say, 10 feet or so—from the runway. Using aft stick pressure, further reduce the descent rate. Then progressively increase the aft stick pressure. This bleeds off airspeed, increases angle of attack to stalling values, and keeps the airplane's nose well off the runway. In the flare, many instructors tell their students to try to ‘prevent’ the airplane from landing—to hold it off the runway—to achieve the desired result.”
At a towered airport, you must make and transmit any decision to abandon a landing early so that ATC can manage the traffic flow. Above all, don’t become discouraged if landings seem temporarily unconquerable. It’s a rite of passage. Smooth sailing lies ahead.
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Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: I’ve always wanted to pursue my dream of flying; however, I’m a little concerned about passing the airman medical physical examination because I’m currently taking medication for hypertension. How can I find out if the FAA allows the medication I’m taking?
Answer: The FAA currently allows most FDA-approved anti-hypertension agents, including diuretics, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, alpha-adrenergic blocking agents, beta-adrenergic blocking agents, calcium channel blocking agents, direct vasodilators, or combinations of these agents. AOPA provides a list of most FAA-accepted medications that you might want to check. In addition, AOPA has a number of medical subject reports on various medical conditions, including hypertension, which provide pertinent medical information for pilots. Finally, before going to your AME (aviation medical examiner), fill out AOPA's TurboMedical. This internet-based, interactive tool will help you prepare to obtain your medical certificate by providing pop-up informative boxes and warnings to guide you as you fill out the form.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.