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High On Final? Here Are 6 Ways To Fix It

Slightly high on final? Use these strategies to re-stabilize your final descent to landing.

1) Reduce Power

If you're high and on speed, you're on a stable but high glide path. That means you need less power. When you decrease power, trim will lower your nose to hold your airspeed, and you'll fly back to glide path. In this case, trim does the work. When you recapture glide path, add power to resume your normal descent rate.


2) S-Turns

If you're on a long final, you can fly a series of S-Turns to increase your ground track and lose altitude. To be stabilized, avoid performing this maneuver close to the ground.

3) Release Back Pressure

If you're high and slow, you're probably holding in too much back pressure, and you're fighting trim. Leave the power where it is, and let trim pull the nose down. Gently relax the yoke/stick, and trim will start pitching the nose down for your trimmed final approach speed. If trim isn't pitching you to your target airspeed, re-trim the plane for the speed you want, and let the nose pitch down to capture that speed.

As your plane pitches down, you'll recapture the glide path. If you need to descend more, remove a little bit of power. But remember, once you recapture glide path, add power back to your normal power setting for final.


4) Put The Gear Down Early

If you fly a retractable-gear airplane, put the landing gear down early to increase drag to assist your descent.

Peter Bakema

5) Forward Slip

A forward slip can be used to increase drag and descent rates to clear obstacles or lose altitude quickly. You lower the wing towards the direction in which the slip is to be made. The nose must be yawed in the opposite direction by applying opposite rudder. The steeper the bank, the steeper the descent. This maneuver exposes more surface area into the wind to increase drag.


6) Use Full Flaps

When you're landing, you typically extend your flaps to their maximum setting. By putting the flaps out all the way, you maximize the lift and drag that your wing produces.

This gives you two distinct advantages. You have a slower stall speed, which means you can land slower AND you produce more drag, which allows you to fly a steeper descent angle to the runway.


7) Go Around

If you aren't able to quickly restabilize your approach with these techniques, simply go-around and try again. A go around is always better than forcing an unstable approach.

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