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8 Different Types Of Landings

No two landings are the same. If you're just getting started, or if you're knocking off the rust, here's a breakdown of the basics.

1) Power-Off Landing / Short Approach

Performing a power-off 180 is just what it sounds like. Abeam an aiming point on downwind, engine power is cut to idle (at or below 1000 feet AGL per ACS standards), and you maneuver to land as close to that preselected point as possible. Most pilots pitch for best glide speed, at least initially, to make sure they reach their touchdown point.


2) Normal Landing

According to the FAA, "A normal approach and landing involves the use of procedures for what is considered a normal situation; that is, when engine power is available, the wind is light, or the final approach is made directly into the wind, the final approach path has no obstacles and the landing surface is firm and of ample length to gradually bring the airplane to a stop."


3) Short Field Landing

When you're dealing with a short runway, or a runway with an obstacle near the approach end, you need to adjust your approach and landing to keep your plane on the pavement. Among many other factors, your goal is to touch down at the minimum controllable airspeed, so you're at the power-off stall speed as you touch down.

By touching down at stall speed, you have the lowest possible ground speed, and you're setting yourself up for the shortest possible ground roll. It's also ok to have a firm touchdown. By touching down firmly, you transfer some of your plane's energy into your shocks and tires, allowing you to slow down more quickly.


4) Soft Field Landing

Soft field landings are pretty much the same as normal landings, until you cross the runway threshold. That's where you need to put your soft field landing technique into place. As you get close to touchdown, you want to hold the aircraft 1-2 feet off the runway in ground effect.

Your goal is to fly the airplane to the ground, with your wings supporting the weight of the aircraft as long as possible. After your main wheels touch down gently, you want to slowly remove power, if you had any in, and hold the nose wheel off the runway.

5) Touch-And-Go

When you're "cleared touch-and-go", you can touch down and take off again, without stopping or exiting the runway.


6) Stop-And-Go

If you need a few seconds to reconfigure the airplane and prepare for your next takeoff, or if you're getting night current, stop-and-go is what you'll need. When you're "cleared stop-and-go", you can touch down, bring your aircraft to a complete stop, and take off again without exiting the runway.

You don't want to rush yourself on a stop-an-go, but you do want to keep in mind that tower might have an aircraft behind you that's landing. Don't spend too much time on the runway and turn your landing into a "camp-and-go".


7) Precision Spot-Landing

Let's say you're flying into somewhere like Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture. Due to the high arrival rate for thousands of attending airplanes, you'll normally be assigned a colored spot to touchdown on. This landing is more focused on hitting a specific touchdown point, rather than some of the other types of landings.


8) Cleared For 'The Option'

If you're looking for the most choices you can get from a tower controller than the option is for you. When you're "cleared for the option", you can pretty much do it all. ATC authorizes you for a touch-and-go, stop-and-go, low approach, missed approach, or a full stop landing.

When would you use this? It's useful in training, especially if you're not sure what maneuver you're going to need (If you grease your landing, you might call it quits. But if you have a rough landing, you might want to try another one.)

When ATC gives you the option, keep in mind that you should tell them your intentions as soon as you can, so they can plan on how to handle the traffic around you.


What's the hardest landing technique for you? Tell us in the comments below.

Want to learn more ways to perfect your landings? Sign up for our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course here.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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