ManuCH
Crew
Topic Author
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### Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Recently there was a discussion with a couple of flight instructors at the flight school where I trained for my PPL. We were talking about the fact that students (and even non-students) often land their Piper/Cessna/whatever single engine aircraft left of the runway centerline, but they hardly ever land on the right.

First I though it could have something to do with gyroscopic precession, P-factor, you name them. But if this were the case, it should be the opposite - I mean, the airplane wants to yaw to the left during take-off, but when cutting power on landing, if anything should happen, it should tend to yaw to the right. Or not?

Anyway, nobody could give a clear answer. Any suggestions?

-Manuel
Never trust a statistic you didn't fake yourself

KELPkid
Posts: 5247
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:33 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Perspective?

The instructor always told us to taxi with the centerline down the spinner...this probably results in some left-hand displacement.
Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)

flymatt2bermud
Posts: 551
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:58 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Unless the runway has centerline lighting or heavy paint on a wet runway we always try to split the nose tires with the centerline paint. This gives you 50/50 on both sides of the runway in the event of a tire failure or other directional control issue.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward" Leonardo Da Vinci

2H4
Posts: 7960
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 11:11 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting ManuCH (Thread starter):We were talking about the fact that students (and even non-students) often land their Piper/Cessna/whatever single engine aircraft left of the runway centerline, but they hardly ever land on the right.

I think many new pilots correct for being seated on the left side of the aircraft when they really shouldn't be doing so.

In small aircraft, the center of the fuselage is only a few inches (or less) from your inside leg, so really, they should be attempting to "straddle" centerline, as opposed to correcting to the left.

2H4

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airtran737
Posts: 3261
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2004 3:47 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting ManuCH (Thread starter):Piper/Cessna/whatever single engine aircraft left of the runway centerline, but they hardly ever land on the right.

Because centerline lighting is a pain in the ass as you keep running it over. I think your natural reaction sitting in the left seat is to land on the left side of the line.
Nice Trip Report!!! Great Pics, thanks for posting!!!! B747Forever

boeingfixer
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:02 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Not much centreline lighting where most light singles fly to. Only Cat II and higher runways require centreline lighting.

Cheers,

John
Cheers, John YYC

N231YE
Posts: 2620
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:24 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Would the aircraft's natural left-turning tendencies (P-Factor, Torque, Gyroscopic Precession, Asymmetrical Thrust, Spiraling Slipstream, etc...) also have an effect?

2H4
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting N231YE (Reply 6):Would the aircraft's natural left-turning tendencies (P-Factor, Torque, Gyroscopic Precession, Asymmetrical Thrust, Spiraling Slipstream, etc...) also have an effect?

Those tendencies wouldn't have much of an effect. Remember, during landing....and particularly, during the flare, the engine should be at very low/idle power settings.

The left-turning tendencies you mentioned are most prevalent during climb and at high power settings.

2H4

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N231YE
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

I see...I figured that maybe newer students may not be as experienced with the flare (good angle of attack) as a more experienced pilot, and thus may be "owned" by the airplane, but I see that is not the case.

2H4
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Well, there's certainly going to be a certain degree of gyroscopic precession as the pitch of the airplane is increased, but I think the effect is minuscule when compared with the vast number of pilot-induced effects involved in a student pilot landing.

2H4

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SlamClick
Posts: 9576
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting ManuCH (Thread starter):First I though it could have something to do with gyroscopic precession, P-factor, you name them.

 Quoting N231YE (Reply 6):Would the aircraft's natural left-turning tendencies

 Quoting 2H4 (Reply 7):Remember, during landing....and particularly, during the flare, the engine should be at very low/idle power settings.

Actually with airplane wings having wash-in and wash-out and the vertical fin being aligned to counteract P-factor at high power settings, I would expect that during landing at very low power (idle) for there to be a right-turning tendency although very slight because speed (air loading) is also low.

 Quoting 2H4 (Reply 9):Well, there's certainly going to be a certain degree of gyroscopic precession

So the question is, what is the effect of gyroscopic precession on a back-loaded, windmilling prop?

Becomes manifest 90° in the direction of rotation later.
Therefore a pitch-down moment?

On further reflection I believe the pilots in question are just sloppy and I'd appreciate it if they'd straighen up and fly right or stay the hell away from my airspace.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.

boeingfixer
Posts: 573
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting SlamClick (Reply 10):On further reflection I believe the pilots in question are just sloppy and I'd appreciate it if they'd straighen up and fly right or stay the hell away from my airspace.

That's by far the best reply so far
Cheers, John YYC

N231YE
Posts: 2620
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:24 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting SlamClick (Reply 10):On further reflection I believe the pilots in question are just sloppy and I'd appreciate it if they'd straighen up and fly right or stay the hell away from my airspace.

On a side note from the discussion; there is a gentleman who flies out of the same airport my university uses. According to my roommate, his instructor warned him to watch out for this guy, as he will try to collide with other people.

From my own encounters, this guy has sloppy pattern work.

futureualpilot
Posts: 2404
Joined: Thu May 25, 2000 10:52 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting N231YE (Reply 12): According to my roommate, his instructor warned him to watch out for this guy, as he will try to collide with other people.

Perhaps a subtle hint to the FAA is at hand...I hate to see a pilot loose his wings, but if it means getting someone out of the air who not only endangers themselves, but other people...on purpose no less then I would say it is the right thing to do.

As for the original post, I would suspect that at low airspeeds with a low power setting, any gyroscopic forces would have little effect on ones alignment with the runway centerline, but perhaps it has to do more with an optical illusion of sorts.

[Edited 2007-01-10 05:09:01]
Life is better when you surf.

L-188
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

The pilots aren't compensating for the rotation of the earth.

So if you don't do that and are landing to the north, you will land to the left side of the runway, headed south and you will end up on the right. Of course if you land East West, the coriolis effect will take over and you will be off to the side 90 degrees due to gyroscopic delay (Sorry can't think of the term)

I'd explain more but I have got to go and put more wax on those wings I am making.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.

N243NW
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

If I were to take a random guess, I'd say that this phenomenon may be due to pilots of small aircraft thinking that their seat is farther from the runway's centerline than it actually is. The left seat on most GA planes isn't more than a couple feet left of the nosewheel, so theoretically if the pilot aims right at the centerline, he/she won't be far off upon touchdown (a little to the right of center if anything). But if the pilot believes that the seat is further left than it really is, he/she may compensate too much and therefore land too far left. Anyone else think this is plausible?

-N243NW
B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.

9VSIO
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

As I'm still doing circuit training, I'll give my two cents worth.

This certainly was an issue for me when I started, I reckon what happened was that I was using the edge of the runway to judge as well as the centerline. It seems to have vanished now, so it seems to be a matter of experience. Interestingly, this only happened when I was landing on the nice big tarmac runway. Never had this issue with the grass runway (possibly due to lack of centerline?)

P.S An instructor of mine once told me when people started training, they would brake to the left. He figured this was due to the fact that they drive manual cars, thus their left foot has less finesse compared to their right. Anyone else encounter this?
Me: (Lining up on final) I shall now select an aiming point. || Instructor: Well, I hope it's the runway...

ThirtyEcho
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

This happens for the same reason that most roll-axis upsets are to the left when non-IFR pilots fly into IMC; the natural tendency of novices when pulling the yoke back is to, also, induce a left turn. They mistakenly compensate with right rudder, which induces a left forward slip. Bingo, you are left of the centerline and the left gear contacts the runway first with beaucoup side load.

In the days of the old spring-steel Cessna landing gear, you would get a big BOIIING, roll right, screeching right main touchdown, nosewheel slam and a landing right down the left side of the runway.

Been there, done that

noelg
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

I was always taught to takeoff/land with the nose wheel slightly off centreline as the cats eyes can damage the landing gear at high speed. In wet weather the runway centre lines are also slippy so the tarmac offers more grip.

I guess the left hand seat makes to tend to land left rather than right!

N243NW
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting 9VSIO (Reply 16):P.S An instructor of mine once told me when people started training, they would brake to the left. He figured this was due to the fact that they drive manual cars, thus their left foot has less finesse compared to their right. Anyone else encounter this?

I never thought about this before, but it certainly is true with me! I'm not an actual pilot [yet], but I do a lot of simulator flying with rudder pedals. The instant the nose gear touches the tarmac, I immediately apply too much left brake and have to counter it with my right foot. And yes, my daily driver is a manual transmission

-N243NW
B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.

tlfd29
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Just a poke in the dark, but sitting on the left side of the aircraft the pilot has a better reference as to how much distance is between the left main gear and the runway edge. The runway I land on is quite wide so I tend to stick a little closer to the left side because I can see quite clearly how much room I have to play with. Like I said, just a thought.

jetstar
Posts: 1384
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

In my Air Force days years ago, one time I was riding in the cockpit jump seat just behind the left pilots seat of a C-97 while we were landing at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. At the time the main runway there was 500 feet wide, going back to the days when the Strategic Air Command had B-47’s based there on active alert and when they had to scramble they took off 2 abreast.

The pilot commented that because the runway was so wide it was hard to gauge his distance above the runway to flare out so he landed on the left side of the runway and was able to see the grass area, which he used for depth perception.

I have had the same problem on occasion in my own C-150 when I have landed on very wide runways so I used the same procedure and would land on the left side for better depth perception.

9VSIO
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Well, I was typically more accurate on the smaller grass runways, but the last few times I used the concrete, I ended up on the centreline! But, I once glanced to the side, and the next thing I knew, I was a few meters to the side of the centreline.

I wonder if the reverse is true, that when flying from the right seat, you tend to land left.
Me: (Lining up on final) I shall now select an aiming point. || Instructor: Well, I hope it's the runway...

DeltaGuy
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting Jetstar (Reply 21):I have had the same problem on occasion in my own C-150 when I have landed on very wide runways so I used the same procedure and would land on the left side for better depth perception.

A few of the planes I rent are based at a military airfield with a pretty wide runway- same problem, but you get used to it after awhile. Then when you get to a small uncontrolled field, with <75' wide runways, you feel alot different.

DeltaGuy
"The cockpit, what is it?" "It's the little room in the front of the plane where the pilot sits, but that's not importan

cptspeaking
Posts: 567
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:49 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

One possible explanation could be that the left hand is used on the yoke from the left seat. When on final approach and in the flare, a lot of times the student will not pull the yoke directly back, but will kind of pull down a bit with their hand too. I understand that this would cause the airplane to bank and that this would be fixed by returning to level, but it may not be corrected for in the early stages of flight training.

Just an idea...could be why I was consistently a foot right of center when I was doing my CFI training...

...and don't call me Shirley!!

SlamClick
Posts: 9576
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting Jetstar (Reply 21): the runway was so wide it was hard to gauge his distance above the runway to flare out

This was a real problem the first few times I landed on huge alkali flats like the Black Rock Desert. No reference, it was almost like an instrument landing - wings level, landing attitude, gradual descent the last few feet.

But at least no one could accuse me of landing to either side of the center!
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.

ThirtyEcho
Posts: 1411
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 1:21 am

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

Who cares? Just plunk it down anywhere?

When you land on as many 35 foot runways and one 25 footer, as I did as a kid, you will learn to respect nailing the centerline every time.

I did that in a taildragger, at single runway airports, with crosswinds.

I had an ex-WWII Hellcat pilot as an intructor.

FlyUSCG
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Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:29 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

I think many of you are over thinking it waaay to much. I always land on the centerline (it's there for a reason). But I've heard from instructors that they teach their students to land to the left at night so the runway centerline reflection doesn't blind them. Runways with centerline lights, it's like some of you already said, they are like speed-bumbs for GA aircraft (plus the lights themselves are bright). So those are just my thoughts.
Go Trojans! Fight On!

cptspeaking
Posts: 567
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:49 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting FlyUSCG (Reply 27):instructors that they teach their students to land to the left at night so the runway centerline reflection doesn't blind them. Runways with centerline lights, it's like some of you already said, they are like speed-bumbs for GA aircraft (plus the lights themselves are bright).

Hahaha thats just ridiculous. It's paint, not a bunch of mirrors. And yes, the centerline lights are annoying, but they aren't exactly on the middle of the centerline. They're displaced a foot or so to the side for just that purpose, so you don't run over them if you're landing on the paint.

In my opinion, it is even more important to land on the centerline at night because it is more difficult to tell how far to the side you may be. And in all reality, those lights are not going to blind you. They think of those types of things when they are designing the systems. Approach lights on high, on the other hand, are a different story...
...and don't call me Shirley!!

FlyUSCG
Posts: 520
Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:29 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting Cptspeaking (Reply 28):Hahaha thats just ridiculous. It's paint, not a bunch of mirrors.

If your a pilot... you obviously need to pay more attention. If your not a pilot... shut up because you don't know what your talking about. The paint is reflective and if you need further explanation of what "reflective" means, then your a lost cause.
Go Trojans! Fight On!

2H4
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting Cptspeaking (Reply 28): Hahaha thats just ridiculous. It's paint, not a bunch of mirrors.

Actually, they're pretty interesting little lights:

Here they are being installed in a new runway:

2H4

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FlyUSCG
Posts: 520
Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:29 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

I just read your profile and see your a pilot and have several ratings. So I take that back and replace it with "I see your a pilot, and your an idiot for not knowing that paint on runways is reflective". But then again, your only ranked 16th on flight, so I guess we can't expect that much.
Go Trojans! Fight On!

2H4
Posts: 7960
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 11:11 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting FlyUSCG (Reply 31):But then again, your only ranked 16th on flight, so I guess we can't expect that much.

Have some respect, FlyUSCG. You can only make it to national-level competition after beating 5-7 other schools. At nationals, you're up against about 30 schools and hundreds of other individuals.

I'd bet money Cptspeaking would beat the pants off of you in an instrument flying competition, and I'm 99% sure his scan is vastly superior to your own.

2H4

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cptspeaking
Posts: 567
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:49 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting FlyUSCG (Reply 31):I just read your profile and see your a pilot and have several ratings. So I take that back and replace it with "I see your a pilot, and your an idiot for not knowing that paint on runways is reflective". But then again, your only ranked 16th on flight, so I guess we can't expect that much.

Wow. First of all, I wasn't saying you were ridiculous at all, just the comments of those instructors you quoted, so there was no reason to get defensive...or offensive for that matter...

As clarification, because you obviously didn't get my point:
I understand that the paint is reflective. My point is that it is not blinding when illuminated by and reflecting the light of the landing/taxi lights, especially in such an airplane as a 172, so that instructor's reason for landing on one side of the runway is absurd. My apologies if this person is a friend, I mean no personal disrespect, I just disagree profusely with his opinion. Thats it, I promise!

 Quoting 2H4 (Reply 32):I'd bet money Cptspeaking would beat the pants off of you in an instrument flying competition, and I'm 99% sure his scan is vastly superior to your own.

Thank you.

...and don't call me Shirley!!

pilotpip
Posts: 2830
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### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

When you start instructing, you'll likely land to the right of centerline. It's all perspective. People have a habit of trying to line the prop spinner up with the centerline but because you're offset from that you'll think you're on the line but you're really to the left. I also think it may have something to do with people being so used to driving next to the lines versus on them.

I teach my students to put the line on their right knee. That usually takes care of the centerline issue. For the guy that said "Who cares", I'm big on centerline all the time because it teaches precision. I'm flying into big runways and don't like seeing my students get complacent when we go somewhere with a narrow runway and obsticles to avoid.
DMI

FlyUSCG
Posts: 520
Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:29 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting 2H4 (Reply 32):Have some respect, FlyUSCG. You can only make it to national-level competition after beating 5-7 other schools. At nationals, you're up against about 30 schools and hundreds of other individuals.

I know all about flight teams, I go to Embry-riddle in Prescott and ours is nationally ranked blah blah blah. The general consensus on this campus is that flight team is a joke and those of us that aren't on it, are happy to be. So although some flight team guy can make a flight plan in 2 minutes, identify a plane by it's rivets, or smash a plane down on some line for "accuracy", I'm not impressed. And having someone flat out say "hahahah, thats just ridiculous" doesn't exactly make me feel inclined to be respectful right back. Also, not all planes are 172's, a lot of planes have their landing lights right in the nose (our Seminoles have 2 nice bright halogens right in the front), so landing at night on the line can be very bright.

 Quoting 2H4 (Reply 32):I'd bet money Cptspeaking would beat the pants off of you in an instrument flying competition, and I'm 99% sure his scan is vastly superior to your own.

He can have it. I'm sure the airlines would be O So impressed! And his scan is better...? c'mon, thats just dumb. First of all, it's a scan, you can't compare one from another so who cares. Second of all, I'm up for my instrument ticket right now, so my scan is obviously good enough to get this far and keep me alive.

 Quoting CptSpeaking (Reply 33):I wasn't saying you were ridiculous at all, just the comments of those instructors you quoted

Fair enough, but as I said above, in our Seminoles it can be a distraction.
Go Trojans! Fight On!

cptspeaking
Posts: 567
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:49 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting FlyUSCG (Reply 35):Also, not all planes are 172's, a lot of planes have their landing lights right in the nose

True...I personally still haven't had an issue with this in 172RGs, 152s and Arrows, all of which have landing lights in the nose. It's your opinion though, just like this is mine...

 Quoting FlyUSCG (Reply 35):I'm sure the airlines would be O So impressed!

Sarcasm ignored, any airline interview consists of a written test that covers instrument procedures (which you apply in these competitions...its basically an instrument checkride measured by computers for accuracy. It includes tracking, holding, a non-precision approach and an ILS) and a sim ride in which you show that you not only know the book, but can actually fly instruments. Also included are the concepts and procedures involved in IFR flight in a high performance airplane. My best friend just started line flying in the Saab 340 for Colgan Air and he said that they stressed precise instrument flying a TON in training. I'm talking a half-dot deviation on an approach and you're being chewed out for it. The interviewers may not be on their faces in worship and hiring me right on the spot as a check airman for placing in the IFR sim event at NIFA, but I'd rather have it on my resume than not.

Safe flying and good luck on your instrument ride...

...and don't call me Shirley!!

2H4
Posts: 7960
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 11:11 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

With all due respect, until you've competed for a year or two, you really have no idea...

 Quoting CptSpeaking (Reply 36):The interviewers may not be on their faces in worship and hiring me right on the spot as a check airman for placing in the IFR sim event at NIFA, but I'd rather have it on my resume than not.

CptSpeaking, you underestimate how effective your flight team experience will prove to be when it comes time to land an internship, interview, and ultimately, a job. Stick with it, try your hardest, make the most of it, and the effort will pay off in spades. Mark my words.

2H4

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Fly2HMO
Posts: 7184
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 12:14 pm

### RE: Small Planes: Why Land Left Of The Centerline?

 Quoting CptSpeaking (Reply 36):The interviewers may not be on their faces in worship and hiring me right on the spot as a check airman for placing in the IFR sim event at NIFA, but I'd rather have it on my resume than not.

They would be if you were a Golden Ego.. errr Eagle

 Quoting 2H4 (Reply 37):Stick with it, try your hardest, make the most of it, and the effort will pay off in spades. Mark my words.

Very true.

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