Staying in the pattern (flying circuits) is the best way to practice landings because you get a landing in every five minutes or so. The video above shows one of those circuits. It’s not me flying but it shows what I was doing moments earlier.
The traffic pattern is pretty simple. It can either be left-hand or right-hand. Sometimes both circuits run at the same time depending on how ATC are running things. A normal circuit only takes about five minutes so you can get plenty of landing practice in a single lesson. The pattern here at Goodyear is flown at 2000 feet above mean sea level. On the ground you are already 968 feet above mean sea level so the pattern is 1000 feet above ground level. You fly the upwind to 500ft and then turn crosswind, still climbing. Upon reaching 2000ft level off and if you haven’t already, turn for the downwind leg. The downwind leg is flown about one mile away from the runway.
When the touchdown point on the runway is about 45 degrees behind your wing, that is a good time to turn onto your base leg. When turning base reduce power and set flaps to 25 degrees to assist with altitude loss and slowing down. Turn onto final and set flaps to 40 degrees – maintain 70kts until over the runway. When over the runway, reduce power to idle as appropriate and raise the nose (flare) for touchdown. As you probably heard on the radio there was a quick chirp from the stall warner just before touchdown. That’s pretty much how you want it to be. You don’t want to stall any higher than just above touch down!
If you look at the full size version of the ‘final’ picture (by clicking on it) you will see the PAPIs (Precision Approach Path Indicators) on the left hand side of the runway. These help in setting up the correct descent rate when approaching the runway. What you want to see is white on the outside and red on the inside. That shows you’re on the correct glide path. Two whites tell you that you’re too high and two reds tell you that you’re too low.