Subcribe and stay connected

Flying a power-off 180º landing (or short approach, as ATC calls it) is a fantastic way to really learn how your airplane flies. It’s one thing to fly around with controlled power, and to land with power. It’s an entirely different feeling to experience all the extra energy your airplane has on its own, with the addition of gravity bringing you down.

Why Learn the Power-Off 180 Landing?

Why would we be doing this power-off 180 landing on the commercial pilot level? Well, it takes a lot of skill, great energy management, and the proper execution increases your (and your passenger’s) likelihood of survival if you ever have an engine out. Therefore, it’s actually quite a practical maneuver to learn. If you were to have an engine out issue, you will now have some tools in your toolbox to get down to a perfect spot, maybe the ONLY spot, to land safely.

Now to execute a Power Off 180º Landing is simple. You will reduce the power to idle at abeam, the touchdown point, and exercise the same procedure for a short field landing in terms of our touchdown spot.

Finding the best glide

A great way of thinking of this energy is ‘buoyancy’. Like a boat, we have a certain amount of that buoyancy left in the wing as we work our way down to the touchdown point. It’s a matter of timing and precision, feeling out the constant state of energy of the airplane, and flying accordingly.

To practice, as you’re abeam and the airplane is set up, pull the power out. Immediately shoot for your best glide. In this case in the 172, it’s 80MPH or about 70KTS. Then you’ll fly one continuous arc to the runway touchdown spot, constantly evaluating the state of the energy of the airplane.

Power off 180 LandingThere are several tools available to you to nail this landing. The first is distance. As you draw that curve to 180º, the size of that arc really matters. You get to pick how much distance you cover over the ground on the way to your landing spot, try to not make the arc a cross-country flight. If you need to, shallow out your bank and stay out a bit longer or consider squaring up your turns if you’re still too high.

What is drag and how you can use it?

Think flaps in the power-off 180 procedures. The timeliness of your flap deployment is essential. High or low, fast or slow? Consider adding the drag earlier, to slow down and increase your descent angle, or to just simply slow down. Too low, too slow, or just enough energy? Use your distance to go more direct to your landing point, and don’t think about adding drag yet unless necessary. You don’t even have to add those flaps. Keep the speed up and get there if you’re running out of distance.

Now, hit your target landing spot with minor final adjustments. It’s better to come in a little too high than too low. You can always slip down, or zig-zag on the final to make up more distance.

Don’t forget to use the ground effect to your advantage. If you keep too much energy you’ll float. It’s amazing what a little bit of floating in ground effect will do. It could give you that extra little bump to get to the touchdown zone, so embrace that ground effect, and don’t panic.

There you have it, now you’re ready to tackle power off 180º landings. If you have questions on the power-off 180 landings, contact anyone at Angle of Attack ground school and we can point you in the right direction.


Chris Palmer

Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.


Student Pilot Precision Pattern Practice & Tactics

  In this episode, Chris and Sienna head out to pound the pattern. Just like an athlete in the gym, getting reps in around the pattern is one of the few ways for student pilots like Sienna to become more comfortable landing and managing the airplane in one of the most critical stages of flight. …

Student Pilot Precision Pattern Practice & Tactics »

Read more

Collision Avoidance, What are your Pilot Responsibilities?

Collision avoidance in aviation is a critical aspect of ensuring the safety of both passengers and crew aboard an aircraft. It involves several strategies and systems that help in preventing mid-air collisions, ground collisions, and other accidents. Pilots play a pivotal role in the execution of collision avoidance measures, utilizing advanced technology, effective communication, and …

Collision Avoidance, What are your Pilot Responsibilities? »

Read more

What Are Hazardous Attitudes in Aviation?

In the aviation domain, safe operation is a cardinal priority, vital for protecting life, property, and the environment. The FAA recognizes that while technical error contributes to unsafe conditions, human attitudes significantly influence decision-making and behavior, thereby affecting overall flight safety. Five hazardous attitudes have been identified that can compromise safety in aviation: anti-authority, impulsivity, …

What Are Hazardous Attitudes in Aviation? »

Read more

Duration and Implications of a Second-Class Medical Certificate

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of the aviation industry. One of the ways it accomplishes this is by regulating the medical certificates of pilots through various classes. The second-class medical certificate is a vital component of this system, catering to a specific category of aviators. …

Duration and Implications of a Second-Class Medical Certificate »

Read more

Stay Connected

Be the very first to get notified when we publish new flying videos, free lessons, and special offers on our courses.