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Minimum descent rate landing to a soft field, designed to touchdown as softly as possible to eliminate risk of rough landing caused by tall grass, soft sand, mud or snow.


To teach techniques necessary for landing when it is necessary to touchdown as softly as possible by slowly transferring weight from wings to landing gear.


·         Clear the area

·         Choose forced landing area (should be runway)

·         Configure aircraft for normal approach and begin descent as normal

·         Select outside references (e.g. runway numbers)

·         Clear area, then turn to final (≤30° bank)

·         On final: remaining flaps (C172RG: 30º) when runway is assured, CCGUMPS check

·         Select aim point (e.g. before runway numbers)

·         Adjust pitch and power to maintain normal approach speed and descent angle (C172RG: 65 KIAS)

·         Trim to relieve control pressures

·         Make sure feet are not on brakes

·         10-20’ off ground: power to maintain minimum descent rate (e.g. throttle to idle then re-add some power to slow descent rate) (C172RG: maintain descent power to the ground)

·         Gradually apply back pressure to pitch for straight-and-level attitude, attempting to fly just above runway (fly in ground effect) straight-and-level until passing aim point, then continue adjusting pitch for climb attitude just above horizon

·         Hold aircraft in ground effect, 1-2’ above surface, as long as possible

·         Upon touchdown on main gear, smoothly apply elevator pressure to hold nose wheel off surface as long as possible (C172RG: instrument glare shield on horizon)

·         Gently lower the nose wheel to the surface

·         Slight addition of throttle upon touchdown can assist softly lowering the nose wheel

·         Do not use brakes and maintain elevator back pressure for taxiing


Emphasize flying in ground effect as long as possible; holding back pressure on elevator throughout taxi. Keep one hand on throttle. A wider than normal pattern can be used to give time to configure the airplane.

Common Errors

·         Excessive descent rate on final approach

·         Excessive airspeed on final approach

·         Unstabilized approach

·         Roundout too high above the runway surface

·         Poor power management during roundout and touchdown

·         Hard touchdown

·         Inadequate control of the airplane weight transfer from wings to wheels after touchdown

·         Allowing the nose wheel to “fall” to the runway after touchdown rather than controlling its descent


FAA-H-8083-3A Airplane Flying Handbook p. 8-19

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