by John Rafferty
Phase 5: Setting Up for an Approach
This procedure is tricky, but it's the key to successful landings: Get the airplane set up properly in advance, and the approach and landing will be a snap. In fact, when properly set up for the approach, the airplane will virtually land itself.
There are several distinct steps in the setup procedure:
- Reduce power (the nose position will begin to fall off).
- Keep the nose up to maintain altitude (airspeed will fall).
- At 100 knots, lower flaps 10° (the nose will rise).
- Stabilize the position of the nose.
- Adjust power as required, to maintain altitude.
- (On both the IBM and 68000, put landing gear down; stabilize the nose.)
Reduce Power. First, ease back on the throttle, gradually reducing power to around 1650rpm. (On the 68000: Try 1350rpm.)
Keep the Nose Up. When you power back, the nose of the airplane will begin to drop, or fall off (the horizon line starts moving up on the windshield). As it begins to fall, start nudging back on the stick to keep it up, so as to maintain altitude as your airspeed bleeds off.
This may cause the nose to rise too much, so you'll have to nudge the stick down again, to keep it from getting away from you. A quick succession of several up-and-down nudges will usually do the trick. (On the 68000: Just keep easing back gradually on the stick, to prevent any descent.)
You want the nose stable and just slightly raised, so that your altitude is maintained while the airspeed begins to fall. The horizon line will be just a hair lower on the windshield than it was in normal cruise. Keeping an eye on the vertical speed indicator will help you prevent any loss of altitude.
Lowering the Flaps. At 100 knots lower flaps 10°. One touch of the designated key will do it. (A second tap of the key will give you 20°, and a third, 30°. But 10° is adequate in most circumstances.) Note the small vertical slot toward the top right of the panel indicates the flap position.
(On the IBM PC: Press F3 for 10° flaps, F5 for 20°, and F7 for 30°.)
(On the 68000: Click on the second dot of the flap indicator for 10°.)
Controlling the Nose. Lowering the flaps changes the airplane's trim. As the flaps come down, the nose will tend to rise, so you'll have to nudge the stick a few times again to keep the airplane's attitude under control.
(On the 68000: At this point, ease foreward on the stick to keep the nose down, then promptly increase power back to 1900rpm.)
Maintain Altitude. Once you have the nose under control—slightly raised and stabilized—use changes in engine RPM to adjust and maintain your altitude.
About 1650rpm should keep you straight and level. (On the IBM: Try around 2000rpm; on the 68000 try 1900rpm.)
When properly executed, you'll end up straight and level at about 95 knots with 10° flaps and the engine at about 1650rpm. (On the IBM: You'll end up at 90 knots and 2000rpm. On the 68000: You'll end up at 90 knots and 1900rpm.)
Landing Gear—IBM and 68000. Make it a practice to drop the landing gear as part of this set-up procedure so you won't forget to do it later on.
- IBM. On the IBM, lowering the gear will change the trim, so you have to stabilize the nose again. But airspeed will not be affected much. Try to end up at 2000rpm with gear and flaps down, giving an airspeed of about 90 knots.
- 68000. Dropping the gear will cause the nose to fall off, but it also will create considerable drag. Ease back on the stick to keep the nose up, and end up with the elevator slide just a hair below center at 1900rpm, which will give you an airspeed of about 70 knots. This is a bit slow on a long approach, however. So, after you get the hang of things, you may want to leave the gear up until you're actually on final approach to the runway. This is up to you; the problem is that if you wait until later to lower the gear, sooner or later you'll forget to lower it, and you'll come in on your belly.
The procedure is a little tricky, but your landings will be immensely easier and smoother if you nail down the setup procedure right here and now.
From the Right-Hand Seat
We've turned left to 060°, and we're now headed out across the Sound toward the airport. First, save the current flight parameters, so that you can come back to this point and practice. Then, gradually throttle back, and follow the sequence of procedures discussed above.