What is Gliding? Part 3: Approach/Landing

June, 7, 2021 by

When a glider pilot decides to return to their respective airfield for landing, they have to monitor altitude and airspeed very closely. There are no second chances.

Firstly, a typical landing begins with a 45 degree entry into a downwind pattern leg, and then continuing with a base and final leg. It is essential for a pilot to have a reference point to refer to for relative altitude or location, and that a set base turn point is established prior to turning base. A good rule of thumb in gliders is that being too high is better than being too low. Glider pilots fly a high approach, using the dive brakes, flaps, or side slips for speed control. A good airspeed to stay at during approach is a speed that is 1.5x more than the stall speed of the glider. A glider pilot should monitor airspeed and control airspeed with usage of dive brakes, along with keeping a close eye on altitude and set pattern legs. If the approach is set up correctly, the landing will be smooth and efficient.

Want to try this in Infinite Flight? Fly a non-powered approach in any General Aviation aircraft. Be sure to try this in an uncontrolled environment in case something should go wrong. Start higher than usual, only use power when necessary, and keep the aircraft’s speed around 1.5x higher than the stall speed. Join the downwind leg at a 45 degree angle and use flight spoilers or flaps for speed control. Avoid a go around and try your best to nail the approach and landing. Experiment with different aircraft and variables, including weather. Get creative and challenge yourself!

Suhas is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is a long time Infinite Flight user, IFATC Officer and Tester. In the real world, he’s a student pilot on both glider and powered aircraft. He's also an IFVARB Board Member.