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The 5 Steps Of A Bad Approach-To-Landing

Sometimes, things just don't go as planned. And that can really happen on your base-to-final turn. Here's what can happen, and how you can get yourself into (and out of) a bad situation.


1) You overshoot final

We've all been there. Maybe it's because you have a tailwind on base. Or maybe it's because you just mis-judged your turn. Either way, you find yourself blasting through the extended centerline of the runway.

2) You try to correct with bank

What's going to fix this situation? More bank angle! Or so you thought. Before you know it, you're over-banking, and getting closer to an accelerated stall as you try to get back on to final.

3) Realizing you're over-banking, you step on the rudder

Bank angle isn't going to get the job done, so you start stepping on the rudder and deflecting your ailerons in the opposite direction to keep from over-banking. Problem solved! Or not. You start skidding the airplane, and setting yourself up for #4.

4) Your airplane is cross-controlled

Cross-controlling your plane isn't typically good idea, especially down low in the traffic pattern. But that's where you are, still trying to get back on centerline, and getting ever-closer to a cross-controlled stall, at less than 500 feet AGL...

5) You realize what's happened, and you go-around

It's time to give up on this attempt and go-around. Add full power, pitch up, and return your ailerons and rudder to neutral (actually, a little right rudder for those left-turning tendencies). This landing may not have worked out, but we bet the next one will.


Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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