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8 Steps To Make Your First Solo Landing Perfectly Smooth

This story was made in partnership with ATP Flight School. Check out the full series here. Ready to become a pilot? Get started with ATP here.

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 is unexpected turbulence on final. Make corrections, and keep your eyes on your aiming point on the runway.


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) Speed control is the key to a great landing

Maintain your final approach speed until you're approaching 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 bounced 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!


Thinking about becoming a pilot? Get started with ATP Flight School, and find out how to start your aviation career here.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Airbus 320 First Officer for a U.S. Major Carrier. 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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