The plan for this lesson was to stay in the traffic pattern and work on crosswind landings. As we taxied to runway 23, the tower updated the winds to 220 degrees at 20 knots gusting to 25. That is way over my personal limits so, it was a really workout for me. The wind sock was not staying on 220 but was swinging back a forth by 30 degrees or so meaning there was actually more of a crosswind component than the 220 degree report indicated.
I knew right from the first takeoff that this wasn’t going to be easy. The nose of the airplane wanted to go left and right and up and down so that I had to keep adjusting constantly. Just flying the pattern demanded constant effort and I hadn’t even gotten to the first landing yet.
On the first approach, I fought hard for the centerline and thought I had it. Just as I touched down, a gust ballooned us back up a few feet. I could see we were drifting sideways so I added power and went around. I had added 5 knots to my approach speed to compensate for the gusts but, on the second try, Sandy had me add another 5. That made the approach a little more stable and I held the slip better this time so that we touched down on the left main as we should have. I had to keep fighting to stay straight on the roll out. Just a I would correct for a slight swerve to the right, the airplane would try to go left. It was hard work. Even after we stopped, had to keep a tight grip on the controls as the wind tried to push the yoke back and forth.
Landings 2 and 3 were much the same. I was holding the slip and touching down firmly but not hard. The landings weren’t good by any stretch but, considering how far beyond my limits and experience the conditions were, I was doing fine and learning a lot.
Sandy did landing 4 to give me a short break and demonstrate the proper technique. It was tough for her too and she admitted that the winds were right at her personal limits. This was good practice for both of us. My last landing was OK but with just a little side loading.
Going way beyond my comfort level gave me some excellent practice. I won’t be ready to intentionally fly in winds like that on my own for a while but, I now know I could get the airplane down if I absolutely had to. I learned plenty and I am more comfortable slipping in crosswinds. Another good lesson.
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“I won’t be ready to intentionally fly in winds like that on my own for a while but, I now know I could get the airplane down if I absolutely had to.”
That’s a great thought to have — one can have personal minimums, but if you are up in the air, and the conditions change to below your minimums and you are not ready for them — what are you gonna do, stay up in the air?
The most flying growth comes from those things that you fear — crosswind landings, one-wheel landings, no-flap landings .. it’s all about the landings!