What goes up must come down, including your plane. That’s good—as long as you do it safely! As you’ve probably figured out already, the trick to descent is reducing your airspeed to normal descent speed, which varies between aircraft. Here’s the typical process:
- Abeam (90 degrees from) the end of the runway, begin the plane’s descent by reducing power to the recommended descent speed (typically 1.5 X VSO).
- As needed or instructed, apply carburetor heat if the airplane is equipped with one.
- Once airspeed is within the white (flap operating range) range of the airspeed indicator, apply flaps (if equipped) as recommended in the plane’s operating handbook to slow the aircraft down.
- Make a coordinated turn to the base leg while continuing the descent.
- Apply additional flaps, as recommended, to further reduce airspeed as suggested by the manufacturer and your instructor.
- Make a coordinated turn to the final leg while continuing the descent.
- Coordinate the throttle and elevators to control the plane’s approach speed and rate of descent.
You’re ready to land your plane. You’re almost home!
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide