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Landing a glider

Landing a glider should be done with the utmost care, as you only have one chance. You can't power through if you screw up, like you would in a powered plane. Landing is a multi-phase process, like takeoff. Landing patterns are rectangular. One first crosses the runway, usually at around 300M/1,000 feet AGL. Then a turn downwind, parallel to the runway is completed. After going somewhat past the end of the runway, a turn towards the runway is completed. When the glider is close to passing the runway, the last turn is completed, and the pilot aims the plane for the far end of the runway, while gradually losing altitude. When the plane is about 25-50 feet off the ground, the pilot slowly brings back the stick and flares the plane until it gently touches the ground. Or at least everyone hopes that is how it goes. Pilots are famous for acronyms. The following are the commonly accepted acronyms for landing. First, one prepares the glider to land:

The following acronym/mnemonic is a preparation for landing checklist:

  • WRUFSTALL (bad pun)
  • Wind-Observe the wind direction so you land on the correct runway. Cross wind landings and downwind landings are dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Radio-It should be on and tuned to the proper frequency. Radios are not required on gliders normally. When flying in restricted or class C airspace, a radio, and often a transponder is required. thanks C-Dawg
  • Undercarriage-The landing gear should be down if the glider has retractable gear. This is an expensive mistake.
  • Flaps- They should be set full out.
  • Speed-Maintain the advised landing speed for the aircraft. This is usually somewhat faster then the stall speed, so as to give a safety margin. When landing, there isn't enough altitude for stall recovery.
  • Trim-The trim should be set for landing.
  • Altitude-The altitude should be correct for the landing pattern. This is usually 300m/1,000 feet when starting the pattern.
  • Look-look for additional traffic, make sure the runway is clear. Glance around as much as you can, midair collisions usually result in death.
  • Land-keep looking for traffic, maintain airspeed, correct rate of descent if needed. Land, you only have one chance in a glider.

Several steps are dynamic, so the following should be done after everything else has been set and checked:

  • SAW
  • Speed-There is no stall recovery from 1,000 feet. Speed has to be maintained for safety. The runway is always long enough for gliders.
  • Altitude- Maintain altitude. If too high, use a slip to reduce altitude.
  • Watch- This is the same as look. Don't hit anything.

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