Visual Landing

Landing An Air Force Reserve F-4 Phantom II aircraft lands during Exercise GUNSMOKE '85

Descent / Before Landing

The Descent/Before Landing check should be accomplished above 10,000 feet AGL and at a time when mission/flight demands are not critical. Prior to performing a rapid descent, the windshield and canopy surfaces should be preheated to prevent the formation of frost or fog. If it becomes necessary to dump fuel during a descent, thrust settings in excess of 85% rpm may be required to ensure rapid inflight dumping.

💡 Due to limited forward visibility, it is advisable to raise the seat up before entering the pattern.

Landing Technique

For a normal landing, fly the pattern as illustrated in figure. Enter the pattern as local policy dictates.

Landing Pattern

Landing Pattern 2

🔴 WARNING: If high angles of attack develop during the turn to downwind, the rudder should be used as a primary means of rollout since adverse yaw may be introduced by the use of ailerons. Altitude may be insufficient for recovery if uncontrolled flight is encountered.

Avoid buffet throughout the landing pattern. Adjust power, as necessary, to attain allowable gear lowering airspeed. Extend landing gear and slats and flaps in level flight on downwind. Actual flap extension may not occur until slowing to 210 knots. Ensure slats out-flaps down prior to initiating turn to base leg. The optimum indicated AOA for approach is 19.2 units, and is adequate for all gross weight and normal slat flap configurations. The AOA aural tone system provides an audible cue to maintain an on-speed approach (steady tone played at medium pitch). During very gusty flight conditions, full aileron may not be sufficient to correct a wing low condition. When landing in gusty or crosswind conditions, with wake turbulence, with high internal fuel load (aft CG), or with an abnormal configuration (slats in, asymmetric slats or slats partially extended), a 17 unit AOA approach is recommended. A transition to ON SPEED and a flared landing will reduce the touchdown speed. The AOA indexer and aural tone indications remain unaffected. Establish and maintain On Speed angle-of-attack on the base leg or final approach, adjusting pitch attitude to maintain AOA and power to maintain desired glide slope/rate of descent. Cross-check computed airspeed and On Speed AOA to detect gross errors in AOA. When the aircraft reaches 20 to 30 feet altitude above the ground, ground effect will tend to rotate the aircraft in the nose-down direction. Maintaining pitch attitude will result in transition to a slightly slow indication at touch-down which is desired. Flying a 2 1/2° to 3° glide slope will produce an approach rate of descent of about 700 feet per minute. Sink rate at touchdown will be appreciably reduced by ground effect.

🟡 CAUTION: Flying a steeper than normal final approach or not maintaining pitch attitude when entering ground effect, can cause touchdown sink rates to exceed the design limit of the main landing gear struts.

At touchdown, reduce power to idle and deploy drag chute. Use full aft stick to help decelerate. Use rudder and ailerons for directional control down to 70 knots then use differential braking. Nose gear steering should not be required for directional control in light crosswind conditions. However, if rudder, aileron, and/or differential braking are not effective in maintaining directional control, use nose gear steering as required. Engage nose gear steering only with the rudder at or near neutral.

🔴 WARNING: Nose gear steering malfunctions can cause loss of directional control if engaged at high ground speed; therefore, it should not be engaged above taxi speed unless required to maintain directional control during crosswind landing conditions. If no response is noted or unscheduled steering responses are detected when engaging nose gear steering, disengage immediately and do not reengage.

During braking, cycling of the anti-skid system can be detected by a change in longitudinal deceleration. Cycling may not be apparent when braking at high speed immediately after landing, with drag chute failure, or with a wet or icy runway. Do not misinterpret this as anti-skid failure.

💡 Drag chute should not be dropped on the runway or a taxiway. A popular technique is to leave it on the side of a taxiway by appropriately orienting the aircraft, inflating the chute with the engines and then releasing it in the desired direction.

No-Flap Landing


Short Field Landing

Short field landings require that normal final approach procedures be followed with precision and the aircraft be touched down as close to the end of the runway as safety permits. Full aft stick throughout the landing roll increases both aerodynamic drag and wheel brake effectiveness. Apply maximum braking by fully depressing the brake pedals to the pedal stops as soon as the nose gear is on the ground and nose gear steering is engaged. Nose gear steering should be used to maintain runway alignment and supplemented with differential braking only if required.

Operation on the AM-2 aluminum mat is similar to that conducted on a concrete runway of equivalent size. Arrestment should be regarded as an emergency procedure. However, since the aircraft is fully suitable for arrested landings, extremely adverse meteorological or operational conditions may warrant consideration of landing into a suitable approach-end arresting gear.

Crosswind Landing (Dry Runway)

Carefully compensate for crosswind in the traffic pattern to guard against undershooting or overshooting the final turn. Fly the final approach course with the aircraft ground track properly aligned with the runway. The crosswind may be compensated for either by using the wing low method, the crab method, or a combination of the two. When using the wing low method, the ARI can be overpowered by use of the rudder pedals or the ARI can be disengaged by pulling the rudder trim circuit breaker. If the crab method is employed, the aircraft heading should be aligned with the runway just prior to touchdown. After touchdown, use rudder, aileron and spoiler, and nose gear steering as required to maintain directional control. Crosswind effect on the aircraft is not severe; however, rudder, differential braking, and/or nose gear steering must be used as required to maintain alignment with the runway. Use of the drag chute intensifies the weather vane effect for any given deployment condition. The weather vane effect increases as the forward velocity of the aircraft decreases, therefore, if the drag chute is to be used, it should be used at the initial portion rather than the latter portion of the landing roll. This also assures use of the drag chute in the speed region where it is most effective. If the drag chute is used and excessive weathervaning is encountered, jettison drag chute. Since the nose gear will rapidly assume a position relative to the rudder pedals, nose gear steering should be initiated with the rudder pedals at or near the neutral position. For this reason the use of nose gear steering is advocated early in the landing roll rather than at a time when large amounts of rudder are required to hold the aircraft aligned on the runway. Keep in mind that only really tiny amounts of nose gear steering should be used as there is a high risk of a nose gear steering hardover. The most important aspect of directional control under crosswind conditions is keeping the aircraft precisely aligned with the runway rather than trying to correct back to the runway centerline after it has deviated.

Crosswind Landing Guide

Wet or Icy Runway Landing

Wet or icy runway conditions pose severe problems in directional control and braking effectiveness. On wet runways, these problems are primarily the result of hydroplaning where the tire rides on a thin layer of water and produces little or no traction. The probability of hydroplaning increases with increased water depth, increased ground speed, decreased tire pressure and decreased tire tread depth and is also affected by runway surface texture and tire tread design. Hydroplaning can occur on runways which appear only damp if severe braking is applied at high speeds. Hydroplaning and glare ice present essentially the same problems. Due to the reduced directional control, all landings on a wet or icy runway should be made utilizing a crosswind technique. Refer to the Crosswind Landing Guide (figure 2-7) to determine the advisability of making an approach-end engagement. The pilot should also consider the desirability of delaying the landing to permit the runway to dry or diverting to another field. Gross weight should be reduced to the minimum practicable. Plan the pattern to be well established on final with the aircraft tracking straight down the runway centerline with an ON SPEED indication. Use a wings - level crab, if required, to maintain the track. Establish the rate of descent at 800 fpm (slightly steeper than normal) and plan to touchdown on the centerline within the first 500 feet. Make a firm touchdown (500-600 fpm) while maintaining the wings-level crab. Immediately after touchdown retard the throttles to idle. Do not attempt to align the aircraft heading with the runway as this will result in a drift off the runway if the aircraft is sliding or hydroplaning. Maintain full forward stick to increase nosewheel traction. As wheel cornering capability overcomes aerodynamic effects the aircraft will align itself with the runway. Do not attempt to hasten this process. When the aircraft heading is aligned with the runway centerline, deploy the drag chute. Be prepared to jettison the drag chute if the weathervaning effect interferes with maintaining the track straight down the runway centerline. Nose gear steering is the primary method of directional control and should be utilized as early as possible. Nose gear steering should be engaged only with the rudder pedals at or near neutral. When directional control is firmly established utilize maximum anti-skid braking. Brake pedals must be fully depressed to achieve maximum deceleration. At high speeds the braking potential will be very low and little deceleration will be felt. As braking potential increases with decreasing speed, the anti-skid system will increase deceleration accordingly. Unless the pilot is familiar with the variables in braking potential, the low deceleration at high speed may be mistakenly interpreted as a brake or anti-skid failure.

🟡 CAUTION: Rubber deposits on the last 2000 feet of wet runway make directional control a difficult problem even at very low speeds. Braking should be started in sufficient time so as not to require excessive braking on the last portion of the runway.

Heavy Gross Weight Landing

The heavy gross weight landing pattern is the same as the basic pattern shown in figure 2-6 with the exception that it should be expanded slightly to compensate for the lower maneuvering capability of the heavy gross weight aircraft at low speeds. As in the normal pattern, an on-speed indication on the indexer will provide the optimum angle of attack and airspeed for the aircraft in the landing configuration for both level flight and maneuvering flight. Refer to Performance Data, appendix A, for airspeed versus gross weight at approach AOA.


Any decision to go around should be made as early as possible. When the decision to go around is made, smoothly increase thrust to military (afterburner if required). Do not attempt to rotate the nose or stop rate-of-descent until adequate airspeed is built up. Continue to use the on speed indication as the optimum angle of attack until level flight is attained. As airspeed increases, establish normal takeoff attitude, retract gear when a positive rate of climb is established, retract slats and flaps at a safe airspeed (180 knots minimum) and go around. Rudder jumps may occur during flap retraction with lateral stick input. For a closed pattern, accomplish a climbing 180° turn to roll out on downwind at 220 to 250 knots. Refer to Go-Around, figure 2-8. During go-around a rapid trim change is required to preclude high forward stick forces.

🔴 WARNING: Do not exceed 18 units AOA during go-around with gear retracted.


After making a normal approach and touchdown, smoothly advance throttles to full military power. Apply aft stick until the nose rotates 10° to 12° of pitch attitude maintaining this attitude until the aircraft is flying. When definitely airborne retract the gear, followed by the flaps as the aircraft accelerates through 180 knots minimum.