I flew with another CFI on Tuesday. This was supposed to be a final soft and short field lesson before my checkride. As it turned out, it was a good lesson but not in conditions that would allow soft and short field work.
The METARS gave the winds as 290 at 14 gusting to 23 when we took off an runway 23. The gusts were really beating us up in the pattern. It was hard to hold headings and altitude but, I did a pretty good job. I got pushed past final as I made the turn from base but I got back on in plenty of time to make a decent – for the conditions – crosswind landing.
The next two landings were much like the first. I did better at making the turn to final although the constantly changing winds made it difficult to time the turn. We actually touched down two or three times on each landing. When we were in the flare, a gust would dissipate and we would touch down only to have a another gust lift us back in the air. I had to keep flying the airplane all the way to the ground and then some. It was hard work.
By the time we made our fourth landing, the wind was more directly across the runway. I don’t know what the tower controller was looking at but, when we asked for a wind check, he told us it was 290 at 10 knots. Looking at the wind sock showed it standing straight out and almost 90 degrees to the runway. I needed full left rudder to stay aligned with the center stripe. As the gusts came and went, the nose would swing back and forth making alignment very difficult. I got it on the ground but it wasn’t a pretty landing. The instructor commented that we were right on the edge of being beyond the crosswind capabilities of the airplane.
As we flew the downwind for the next approach, we listened to the new ATIS report. It was reporting winds 300 at 17 gusting to 30. This landing was the toughest yet. There were times when I couldn’t get the nose lined up at all. I added some power to hold us off until I could get mostly lined up and we touched down for the last time. We both felt we had reached the limit of what we could accomplish so we taxied back in to the ramp.
It was an educational experience and something of a confidence builder but, it was not the lesson I had planned. Next time out, we will try to get the soft and short field work done.