Nice Landing, Pop

From the very beginning, my children were instructed to greet each landing with praise. As long as the crash didn’t dislodge any loose teeth—or, later on, their retainers—it was expected that they would utter an obligatory congratulation. Today, my grandchildren make a big point out of yelling, “Nice landing, Pop,” as I shut down. They may actually mean what they say.

This custom began out of desperate need. I have never been a good “lander.” Though I pored over articles by Richard Collins about how a stabilized approach produced soft landings, I never seemed to master that last inch and a half of touchdown. While in the Army, I bought a used Beechcraft Musketeer in

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