Make sure they’re up to standards so you can go in with confidence.
1) Review the short field landing procedure.
Each airplane’s short field landing procedure is slightly different. Review the procedure specific to your aircraft so that when it comes time to do one in the airplane, it becomes second nature.
2) Review the Airman Certification Standards.
Review the applicable Airman Certification Standards (ACS) for the certificate you are seeking. Knowing the standards you will be expected to perform within helps you gauge when you are ready for your checkride. It also helps to relieve some of the nerves associated with the checkride.
3) Choose an aiming point and touchdown point ahead of time.
Take a look at the runway and determine where you want your aiming and touchdown point to be. The earlier you choose your points, the more time you have to plan your landing.
4) Pitch for airspeed and adjust power for descent rate.
On final, it’s critical that you are honing in on your final approach speed as closely as possible. Small deviations can cause you to float in your flare, or land before your specified touchdown point. Choose a pitch and power setting that will help you lock onto your final approach speed. From here, you only need to make small adjustments until you start your flare.
5) Use trim to your advantage.
Trim is an essential tool to help you maintain a smooth and effortless approach to the runway. Once your pitch and power settings are established, trim the airplane so you aren’t fighting the controls.
6) Apply a crosswind correction.
If there’s a crosswind, make sure you are preventing drift by crabbing or executing a sideslip. The ACS standards specify to touchdown, “with the airplane’s longitudinal axis aligned with and over runway centerline.”
7) Don’t worry about a smooth landing.
A common mistake is to worry more about a smooth landing than hitting your touchdown point. There’s nothing wrong with a firm touchdown on, or shortly after, your touchdown point. As long as the landing is within standards, you can check off the maneuver as a success.
8) Two types of braking: wheel and aerodynamic.
The goal of a short field landing is to consume as little runway as possible. Your examiner will want to see that you are utilizing both aerodynamic (smooth and constant back pressure on the controls) and wheel braking. Doing this will assure you land in as little distance as possible.
9) When in doubt, go-around.
If you’re a little high or maybe too fast and it doesn’t look like you’re going to be able to make your touchdown point, go around. This not only gives you a second chance at the landing, but it’s also an opportunity to show the examiner your aeronautical decision-making abilities. Accepting a landing outside of ACS standards will usually mean a failed checkride.
Want to make sure the rest of your takeoffs and landings are checkride ready too? Sign up for our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings course here and be prepared for every type of takeoff and landing your examiner will ask you to demonstrate.