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Aiming Point


Why use Aiming Points?

Whether shooting a bow and arrow or landing a plane, it’s always important to have something to aim for (aim small miss small).

When aiming to land on a runway, if you aim to simply land somewhere on the big piece of pavement, you will probably accomplish just that, but not necessarily in the exact spot you or your instructor would like.

In order to successfully use aiming points, it is important to have a good sight picture. In fact, a good sight picture is so important, that large commercial airliners have a special device to allow the pilot to appropriately adjust their seat position:

Taken from the right seat, you would want to align the rear left red dot with the front white dot.



Having a good sight picture will allow you to scan both necessary instruments and maintain situational awareness outside with minimal head movement.

Work together with your flight instructor to find the sight picture that works best for you. Slide the seat forward, backward, and move it up or down to a position where you can easily divide your attention between inside and outside of the aircraft with minimal head movement. In whichever position you end up, ensure your flight controls can be used in their full range of motion (make sure your knees aren’t so close to the yoke that you can’t fully turn the yoke left or right… and that you never have to “lockout” or fully extend a knee to apply full right or left rudder).

Ensure you adjust your seat accordingly every time you get in the aircraft. Try to establish the same sight picture every time as this will aid you in developing a consistent sight picture of your aiming point, and when to begin the flare. We will discuss assistive devices such as VASIs and PAPIs in a subsequent section.

Selecting an Aiming Point

When it comes to choosing an aiming point pick one that is:

  • In the center of the runway
  • Easily identified (use the white markings or runway numbers or something like that)
  • An appropriate length down the runway (don’t choose where the grass meets the pavement, landing just a few feet short could be interesting)

Using an Aiming Point

  • When you see your aiming point move lower in the windscreen, or get covered up by the nose of the airplane altogether, then you are probably too high.
  • When you see your aiming point move higher up in the windscreen, then the airplane is descending too quickly, and will probably touch down before your intended point of landing unless you slow your descent.

Remember to pitch for airspeed, and use power to control altitude as you work to maintain your aiming point.


Choosing your aiming point for landing