A soft field landing is nothing complicated. You can admit that the first time you heard the term ‘soft field landing’ you probably thought of some complex manoeuvre of some sort. We are all guilty of thinking that too. So what really is a soft field landing?
Sometimes, due to emergency conditions prevailing it can become necessary that you land on a grass strip or some narrow road. You will need to make a soft field landing. Well, just think of it as any normal landing except that it is done more ‘softly’. Of course, we all agree that all landings are desired to be soft, so this really isn’t a big difference. Anyway, let`s talk about it for a minute.
How to do a soft field landing
The general rule is that a soft field landing must always be made on the aircraft’s main wheels with the control wheel or yoke held full back.
This helps to protect the nose wheel from sinking into the surface. Assuming there are no obstacles in your approach, a soft field landing is made with a normal approach speed and the flaps deployed. The flap setting is usually less than full flaps due to the fact that the pitch change in the flare is less pronounced because the approach angle is not as steep. The most consistently soft landings can be made if the power is reduced to slightly more than idle on short final and left there until the main wheels touch the runway surface.
It is important to keep raising the nose in the flare to hold the main wheels off the runway surface, as long as possible with the stall warning horn activated. Once the main wheels touch the runway surface, maintain full back pressure on the control wheel or yoke to keep the nose wheel off the surface until it falls gently by itself, then continue the back pressure on the control wheel or yoke until the taxi is completed.
Learning, practising and staying proficient in these types of maximum performance takeoffs and landings will make you a better pilot. The airplane tires, landing gear and airframe will benefit from constant softer field landings and even those you make with full flaps.
Your self-esteem will also benefit when your passengers tell you what a great pilot you are! Let`s do those soft field landings 😆