Instructables

How to Land a Plane

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Picture of How to Land a Plane
WARNING: Never attempt to operate an aircraft without proper instruction from a Certified Fight Instructor. It would be hazardous to your life.If you find yourself frequently flying in small aircraft as a passenger and would feel better knowing how to land it, organizations such as the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) could refer you to flight schools which offer "Pinch Hitter" courses. These courses give you the basics in aircraft operation, an understanding of how to land a small plane, and how to get help. This knowledge will get you on the ground. It might not be pretty, but you'll walk away.

The question is "How do you land an airplane?" First of all, the chances of you being asked to land an airliner are zero, zip. It only happens in Hollywood. I would need to write a full sized novel to tell you how to land a commecial airliner. We will therefore limit this discussion to small, private aircraft.

So there you are staring out the window as the pilot finishes off that three day old turkey sandwich and keels over. What do you do?
 
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Step 1: Communication

Picture of Communication
Let's face it, you need help. The pilot was probably wearing a headset. Take that headset and put it on. If he wasn't, then you have already been listening to the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) that your pilot was talking to on the cabin speaker. There are usually two ways to transmit to ATC. Commonly, there is a button on the pilot's control wheel called a push-to-talk switch. There is also a hand microphone usually mounted somewhere in the cockpit within easy reach of the pilot. Use the hand microphone. To use the push-to-talk switch would require reaching across the pilot. Also, there could be other buttons on that control wheel such as the autopilot disconnect button (if one was installed and operating). So pick up the hand microphone, hold it very close to your lips (any closer and you'll kiss it), press the button on the side, try to speak in a normal tone of voice and make a simple request for help, then release the button. (If you don't you will continue to transmit and never hear a response). Once you have established communication with ATC, they will quickly realize the problem and do everything they can to help you. The one thing they can't do is fly the airplane, so what's next?
pcooper21 year ago
It's fun to read about topics like this, but to operate an airplane, like riding a bicycle, playing baseball or programming computers, the only way one can learn is by actually doing it hands-on. Fortunately, airliners usually have at least two persons in the cockpit who are qualified pilots, and it isn't unusual to have additional qualified pilots among the passengers, so it's extremely unlikely to find oneself on a commercial flight with the flight crew totally incapacitated. (You'd be more likely to get struck by lightning three times in your life!)
The planes I fly are basic stick and rudder,albeit the turboprop. But still very simple to fly. If I can fly them a monkey could too. Lol have a great day!
mrclueless2 years ago
For your in flight perusal
hehehe.jpg
Heh, heh! Every time I'm on a commercial flight I see people ignoring the emergency procedures cards and totally distracted by their electronic gadgets and what-have-you when the flight attendants go through the emergency procedures drill. I always study the card and count the number of seat rows to the nearest emergency exit, because in a real emergency it may make the difference between getting out alive -- or not. Every airliner is different, and unless one regularly commutes on the same model of aircraft a couple of times a week, it's good to review.
Plasmana5 years ago
Wow! It looks very complicated to land a plane, all of those buttons and switches and everything, ugh, too much for a young person like me... Anyway, Awesome Instructable!! I really like it! 5 stars for your hard work making this instructable!!
Flying an airplane is easier than learning to drive a car. Amazing and unlikely as it sounds. I have over 4500 flight hours in MS Flight Sim and 20-something Life hours training in a real airplane and honestly from my point of view i would have rathered learn to fly before driving...

But in all honesty, a plane WANTS to fly...its odd to think of a complex machine as an airplane to have feelings, but there is nothing a plane wants to do than fly. thats what it is built for. if you get into a real airplane, and you maintain straight and level flight, if something changes in flight (such as an updraft from a thermal) it will knock the plane out of straight and level flight and seek to find straight and level...even if that means the plane oscillates nose up and down like crazy.

my dad was a pilot for the army for 21 years, and now flies for life-flight. he one day said to me that flying is so easy that a 4 year old could do it with NO problem.

the only difficult part is getting off the ground and landing.
Derin Plasmana4 years ago
I do it everyday on FSX,no risks.I also did it at a simulator at IFTC.
tpancake225 years ago
Mythbusters actually did an episode on this, where they used a very, very realistic simulator. They were unable to do it the first time they tried (Adam crashed within 10 minutes (lol) and Jaime was going to fast, and overran the runway). The second time, they were coached by an air traffic controller, and they were both able to land the plane by being told what to do over the radio. So communication with the airport is insanely important.
Anyone could be along for a ride with a friend who is a pilot and has a small plane, when he suddenly takes "a long nap." Then you are in control! Under the step on communication it should be mentioned that the emergency frequency is 121.5. If the radio is not changed to that frequency, you may not get the help you need on the radio. Pilots always want to know where the nearest airport is and they want to have a place to land in mind at all times in case of an emergency, like engine failure. Also, flying a plane happens in three axes. If you are not used to that and have not practiced in that situation, you can become very disoriented visually, and that is in fair weather conditions. I have a pilot/friend who has helped me learn a little about handling a plane. I would recommend practicing on a home flight simulator until you can land a small plane well with it. Although those are not professional programs, they are remarkably helpful for learning basic operations. Practice rather than reading a checklist while it happens is important because things begin to happen very fast one on top of the other during final approach. You need some practice knowing what the plane will do and not do, and how to make it do what you want; or a small error compounds with another until there is a large final and fatal error from which you cannot recover. A jet handles much differently than a small single engine plane, even though the theory is very similar.
Gliucoza5 years ago
i would print it and every time im on a plane i would carry it with me.

Having a printed [in type large enough to be able to READ EASILY} is a good idea, BUT...

In the meantime [between flights] you need to READ, READ, AND REREAD the instructions OVER AND OVER UNTIL, like a child who cannot read, but learns word for word, a children's book read nightly by a parent, you can remember it word for word.

I never cease to be amazed at a 2, 3, or 4 year old being able to page through a children's book and recite word for word the text that he/she CANNOT read!!!!!

That way, IF and when the need arises, you will not have to refer to the instructions.  Then, it would not hurt for you to review it again while you're flying, just in case.

Remember,  this flight "primer" is ONLY for an EMERGENCY situation, AND then your BEST HELP is available by the RADIO, SO...

BE SURE to have the radio operation memorized long before any flights, and during the flight, pay special attention to the pilot's use of the radio.

And it wouldn't hurt to ask your pilot to instruct and demonstrate radio use, and even allow you to do some of the radio communication, under his guidance of course. 

blackboard2 years ago
ha ha ha that last photo is so funny when the plane is in the tree and thers a sine that says learn to fly here HA HA
vincent75203 years ago
I guess that after reading all this, I would ask other passengers if they could take the wheel !…
If not, well then … 
Jedrokivich3 years ago
Real Good, but im pretty sure it's ripped from a book.
Called, "Tons of things a guy should know," or something like that.
still good though.
BEAST144 years ago
Ok, this is an amazing instructable! thanks for the info!
betwys14 years ago
I've been flying for a while - for a long while, in fact. I would think that a person who read this note through a few times would be well on his way to walking away from it, if push came to shove..... betwys
frollard5 years ago
Excellent instructable! Only thing I think could be improved is paragraphing and breaking large text into smaller chunks. Maybe it's just me, but I found myself reading the same line 3 or 4 times before moving on ;)
me too
I totally agree, doing so would make this a much easier read. I'm glad you said something as I wasn't sure if my brain was malfunctioning or why this was occurring so many times. I actually began to think back to if this had ever been a problem I previously experienced. How funny, I didn't know if I needed to go get my eyesight checked out or what was causing me to reread the so many individual lines of text twice. LOL!
Cool 'ible! Faved+
insomniac g5 years ago
Not a situation I think I'll ever be in but it sure makes a fantastic instructable, great job!
cool
linuxmom5 years ago
Congrats on your first instructable!
xACIDITYx5 years ago
Awesome Instructable. 5 stars.
S.C.Two (author)  xACIDITYx5 years ago
Thank you!
Awesome Job! The procedure is explained in depth along with great visuals!
S.C.Two (author)  plane phanatic5 years ago
Thank you! Good thing I made the deadline!
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