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8 Steps To Grease Your First Solo Landing

Your first solo flight? It's an experience you'll never forget...

1) Get stabilized early

This means having your final checks completed, having your plane on glide path, and flying at the appropriate final airspeed. When you're stabilized, you can focus on landing the aircraft with no distractions.


2) Note the wind direction

You can note the wind direction in a few different ways. Some obvious ones in the traffic pattern are the windsock, and your aircraft's ground track in relation to your heading.


3) Pitch for airspeed, power for altitude

You control your airspeed on final with pitch. If you're fast, pitch up. If you're slow, pitch down. To maintain a constant descent rate to the runway, you use power. If you're high, reduce power. If you're low, increase power. Make small adjustments on your descent to the runway, and you'll set yourself up for success.


4) Fly the airplane

Sometimes there are unexpected winds or turbulence on final. Make corrections, and don't let the wind push you around.


5) Transition from crab to sideslip

If there's a crosswind, you need to land in a sideslip. If you land in a crab, you'll sideload your landing gear. To sideslip, bank into the wind to stop drifting off centerline, and add opposite rudder to point your nose down the runway centerline.


6) Don't get fast, or slow, on short final

Speed control is the key to a great landing. Maintain your final approach speed until you're at the runway threshold. Then, slowly reduce power, flare, and touch down just above stalling speed.


7) Be patient

If the airplane doesn't want to settle onto the runway, be patient and hold it off the runway until it is ready to come down. Don't force it onto the ground; that's a recipe for a bounce or porpoise landing.


8) Don't jam on the brakes

There's no need to slam on the brakes the second your gear touches down. Let your plane roll out, and use aerodynamic braking before you use your wheel brakes. As you decelerate, enjoy the fact that you just made your first solo landing!


Ready to make your first solo flight happen?

In the American Airlines Cadet Academy, you'll train with select flight schools and be paired with an American Airlines pilot mentor to walk with you through the program. Accepted flight school candidates will have the option to work with Discover® Student Loans to apply for a loan.

After you complete the program, AA's three wholly owned regional carriers (Envoy, PSA, and Piedmont) will offer you a guaranteed interview. If you're hired by one of these regional airlines, you will be well on your way to working at American Airlines.

Want to learn more? Check out the AA Cadet Academy here.

Discover Student Loans are not offered or made by American Airlines or any flight training school, but are made by Discover Bank.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a large regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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