To land or not to land?

That is the question that comes to mind, when on final, high and fast. Often one is faced with myriads of questions. Can I get down in time? Should I use forward slip? Which way is the wind blowing? Can I put this baby down safely?
During any flight, landing is the most onerous phase. Even at an airport that one flies on a regular basis. It could be a busy day and the controller may say “Make short approach, no delay.” Or ” Number 5 extend downwind, follow King Air.” Or “Make S turns to the right for spacing.” Or it could be gusting to 25 knots. Or there maybe wind shear on final. Or a mishap on the main runway and you have to either circle indefinitely, use an alternate destination or use a less used, shorter runway that you did not plan for. Which way is the pattern? Did he say right or left? Where in the world is the King Air? How do I identify it?
All these and many more unforeseen circumstances, render each landing a unique experience. There may be good days and there may be bad days. Some days you get it right. Perfect speed and glide path on final and touchdown with barely a whisper. Other days, it could be a thud or a screech or a “Going around”. Hope no one is watching from the Spirit!
Whatever the experience, it could provide an insight for a better performance next time. Perfect landings are almost an art. The first step towards a good landing is to prepare for it. What kind of pattern is used at the destination airport? How do I enter it? Where is the windsock? What is the pattern altitude? What kind of wind correction must I make? Staying ahead and constantly practicing and reviewing such questions prepares one, when ultimately faced with those questions. Being able to adapt and react instantaneously is an essential trait to safe and smooth flying.
So if a landing is less than gratifying do not despair. There will always be another time, another sweet experience when, with barely a feather touch you graze the surface of the runway and your instructor retorts “Bravo! What a landing!”

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