December 10, 2006


I have not had a whole lot of practice in crosswind landings since getting my rating back up to snuff. This morning I checked the weather, winds were 10-15 knots (gusting 20), coming from a direction of 230 (hence the reason it was so mild today, ~45'F). My home airport (D95-Lapeer) has a north/south runway. I thought PERFECT, a strong crosswind to practice some landings.

After I took off, it was bumpy as hell! Very gusty... but after I ascended to about 2,600 feet, it was as smooth as silk. I turned to a heading of 250 and climbed to 4,500. Look at the picture above, you can see my ground speed is only 64 knots because I am dealing with a 53 knot headwind. Flying in small plane is not much quicker than driving on days like this, but WAY more fun!

The first thing I saw when I took off was the local ski hill (MT. Holly). This time of year (when the sun is shining) it sticks out like a jewel along our relatively flat landscape. They must have had their snow guns blowing all last week, it looks fairly covered to me.

After doing some more sight seeing and slow flight, I turned back to the airport for some landings. My ground speed now increased to over 150 knots, that's what I'm talking about!

As I descended below 2,500 feet, it began to toss me around like a rag doll. I came around the traffic pattern and lined up for runway 18. I was a little high, but felt good. As I fell trough 500 feet a few small gust pushed me up. I was now over the threshold, still high with a crab angle that felt like 45 degrees. I eased the power back and sank down closer to the surface just as another gust pushed me back up. At this point I am a third way down the runway with no wheels on the ground... time to go around and try this again.

This time I use only 10' of flaps and keep my speed higher. I still got pushed around like a freshmen at high school, but make a soft landing... I'm glad I came out and did some "real" flying.

As I taxied up to the ramp, there was a guy preflighting a super decathlon (tail dragger). I'm told those are hard to land in a light crosswind - GOOD LUCK!

No comments: