I have problems with my landings, and I would like to know what is the best speed in the traffic pattern, especially on base and final? I am landing with 20 degrees flaps (in different weather conditions), and to be honest as a student pilot I am confused by the Cessna 172N POH, can anyone help?

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    $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, what has your instructor said? $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ Have you read the POH? The recommended speeds are in there. What are you confused about in it? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ The POH doesn't mention wind or temperature so you should assume no wind and disregard temperature. Wind really doesn't matter though as the speed is air speed. The only time you want to account for wind speed is if there are gusts, then you add half the gust speed to your air speed. Normal approach is just that, normal. The other types of approach are short field or soft field. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Dec 3, 2017 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ I'll echo @Notts90's comment above; have you discussed this with your instructor? What did he/she say? If you are finding the POH confusing, then it might not be a bad idea to schedule a session where you just sit down with your instructor and the two of you go through the POH without touching any of the knobs and switches in the actual airplane. You'll be expected to be familiar with the POH no later than by the time of your checkride, so might as well work on figuring it out now. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Dec 3, 2017 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ You guys must fly different planes than I do because none of the Owner's Handbooks that I have say anything about speeds and flaps in different parts of the traffic pattern. The general rule that we follow is to cross the threshold at 1.3 Vso and full flaps and manage your speeds, gear, and flaps in the pattern to reach that number. Short field is a bit slower. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


This is really something you should discuss with your instructor, but if you want some general guidance then this should work:

  • Downwind: 70kts, 10° flaps
  • Base: 65kt, 20° flaps
  • Final: 60kts, 30° flaps

I say "guidance" because you may need to adjust this but it is in line with the POH values that you quoted in your comment and FWIW it's what I would use 'by default' in an unfamiliar C172. Although personally I wouldn't use 40° of flaps unless it's a short-field landing: the aircraft will come down more quickly with them fully extended.

But I'm not an instructor and I don't want to make assumptions about what he's teaching you and why, so you should definitely ask him this question. Ask him what power setting (RPM) he recommends on each leg, too.


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