Focus in the Flare

To grease your landing, make sure you're looking where you should be.

Piper Landing
Piper Landing

As you start the roundout on final approach and begin to flare, visual cues become extremely important. Where exactly should you be looking as you bring the control wheel back and prepare to place the wheels just where you want them on the pavement (or the grass, if you’re really lucky)?

To give you a wider scope of vision and a better feel for your height above the ground and your movement over the surface, your head should be pointing straight ahead and your visual focus should alternate from a point just over the airplane’s nose to the desired touchdown zone and back again.

Your peripheral vision is used in the flare to give you a good idea of whether you’re drifting to either side of the runway. As speed decays in the flare, the distance at which your vision is focused should be reduced accordingly. It takes practice to determine exactly where you should be looking during the roundout, but if you focus on references that are too close or look straight down, the scene will be slightly blurred, probably causing you to flare high and make a full-stall, drop-in landing. If your focus is too far ahead, your accuracy in judging your height above the ground will be lost, slowing your reactions and increasing the likelihood that you’ll fly the airplane into the ground.

The trick is to alternate your visual focus from long distance to near distance, bringing your focus progressively closer as speed drops. Once you get it right, you’ll find that the whole landing process smoothes out as speed decreases, your visual focus reduces and you settle gently onto the runway.