|Low Approach for Landing Practice
It is actually very difficult to land exactly on the runway centerline
in the PC flight simulator. Probably it is more difficult than
doing it in a real airplane. Why? I thought about it before,
and the answer was as follows. Let's say you are flying a real airplane,
and turning toward the runway for landing. Since you re not on the
extension of the runway centerline, the runway is left or right of the
axis of your airplane. If you look at the runway from that
position, do you fix your head parallel to the airplane's axis and see
the runway off center of your view? You will not do that.
You will turn your head toward the runway and look at the runway at the
center of your view. If you turn your head toward the runway, the
runway will look like a trapezoid even if your airplane is not parallel
to the runway. Therefore, you can know that the airplane came to
the extension of the runway centerline by the shape of the runway.
However, in the PC flight simulator, the runway does not necessarily
look like a trapezoid when the airplane comes to the extension of the
runway centerline because in the PC flight simulator, your head is fixed
parallel to the axis of the centerline. Even when the airplane is
exactly on the extension of the runway centerline, the runway does not
look like a trapezoid unless the heading of the airplane is parallel to
the runway. The following screenshots are taken by
when the airplane is on the extension of the runway centerline. In
the screenshot on the left, the runway does not appear to be a trapezoid
even though the airplane is on the extension of the runway centerline.
At the same position, if I turn the head (virtually) toward the runway,
the runway appears to be a trapezoid as shown in the screenshot on the
The runway does not appear to be a trapezoid if
the airplane heading is not parallel to the runway.
If I turn the head virtually toward the runway
at the same position, the runway appears to be a trapezoid.
Once your airplane comes on the extension of the runway
centerline, and the heading becomes parallel to the runway, you can
slide into the runway (at least above the runway if you don't crash
before the runway) just by maintaining the trapezoid of the runway.
However, it is easier said than done.
So, for those who cannot land in the flight simulator,
I'd like to recommend to practice low approaches. To land an
airplane, one thing you need to do is flying parallel to the runway.
You need to maintain an approach speed, descend rate, and touch down
past the runway number, but practicing them all together could be too
In fact, in a real flight training, a student pilot
practices ground reference maneuvers, before practicing landing
approach. The ground reference maneuvers include turning around a
reference point on the ground while maintaining the distance from the
reference point, flying parallel to a highway, and drawing a rectangular
flight path. Such maneuvers should be done at 500ft above ground.
Among them, flying parallel to the highway is for practicing landing
approach to the runway, and drawing a rectangular flight path is for
making a traffic pattern. (I don't have an instructor license, but
my instructor told me so.)
The reason why not using a real runway is because the real runway is
a public facility, and other airplanes also use it. Letting a
student pilot who cannot make a good enough traffic pattern into the
airport vicinity is not safe. However, we don't need to care about
other airplanes in the PC flight simulator, and we can practice such
ground reference maneuvers over the airfield.
So, I recommend you to practice flying low altitude, like 100ft to
300ft over the ground, parallel to the runway. It is called a low
approach. You should choose an airport that has two parallel
Heathrow 27/9 or Honolulu International 8/26 in Hawaii is recommended.
First, don't care much about the airspeed, just keep it fast enough to
avoid stall, after take-off and approach toward a runway. Then fly
right above the runway parallel to the runway and pass the runway.
Then climb up to 1000 to 2000ft, and make a 180 degree turn and make
another approach to the other parallel runway. Repeat this
practice until you never fail to fly parallel to the runway. You
can download an example flight record for YSFLIGHT from the following
[Download sample flight record file for
Practice flying parallel to the runway
If you become good enough and never fail to fly parallel to the
runway, then lower the landing gear and flaps (air brakes if necessary),
and maintain approach speed, and do the same thing. Finally, you
will be able to reduce power to idle over the runway, and pull the nose
up and land by the main landing gears.
Of course, you are not likely to be allowed do the same thing in a
real airplane. But, you can take advantage of the freedom of the
I would write follow ups when I have time.