June 8, 2008

Crosswind Landings: Just Do It

crosswindlanding.jpgIn preparing for my short cross-country flight last weekend I knew I would likely be encountering some strong crosswinds landing conditions. I was comfortable that the crosswinds would be within the planes demonstrated crosswind limitations and also within my personal comfort levels. Before flying though I decided to look around for some articles or videos about crosswind landings as a refresher.

The best advice I found came from Budd Davisson's website Airbum.com. In "Crosswind Landings: The Real Time Video Game" he makes an interesting point about crosswind landings stating "Crosswinds are also a subject that in my humble opinion, are a) intellecutalized to much, b) not instructed nearly enough, c) avoided entirely too much and d) intellectualized too much."

From what I have seen from my own experiences flying or hanging out at the airport or on aviation forums I think this point is spot on. I know many student pilots who don't seek out opportunities to practice crosswind landings enough. I was lucky that my CFI loved deviating from our current lesson plan if she spotted a windsock at an airport flying perpendicular to the runway. We would drop in and work on crosswind procedures before returning to the lesson at hand.

While in the height of training I got to the point where I did not need to intellectualize the crosswind landing process too much, I could simply fly it and instincts and experience guided me. Budd explains his strategy for crosswinds in simple terms "Don't think about them! Do them!". He equates flying crosswind landings to playing a video game "if the picture you see in the windshield isn't what you want it to be, do what ever is necessary to make it right. Don't over-think it. Do it! If the airplane is drifting to the left, as seen in the windshield, do the natural thing. Lean into the wind by dropping that wing. Then, since part of any landing in any airplane, tailwheel or otherwise, should be to keep the tail lined up behind the nose, as the nose tries to move off the centerline, you use what ever rudder is necessary to keep it there, which is usually (surprise, surprise) opposite to the aileron you're holding. Don't think about it. Do it."

During last weeks flight I had two crosswind landings. When entering the pattern I thought about this article and reminded myself to fly the plane like a video game and the result were two nice crosswind landings.

Posted by at June 8, 2008 3:56 PM

Good thoughts on Xwind landings. I totally agree. That is about the way I do them. Today I had 250@20G29 landing on runway 29 in my C182. Things worked out pretty well.

My limit is if I can't keep the plane straight with full rudder on short final approach, it is time to at least go around if not go to another airport. So far, I have only had to do that once, and it was a good feeling to know what it was like and be ready to go-around.

When it is gusty, I will sometimes fly the plane in with just a little power and chop the power when both mains have touched the runway.

On long Xcountries, it is great to feel comfortable with Xwinds. It has helped me. I like your philosophy.


Posted by: Brian Cruikshank at June 8, 2008 9:04 PM | Reply

That's a good article, and I completely agree. While it is essential to understand the basic aerodynamics of the maneuver, that knowledge is much less essential while performing in the airplane. In the airplane it suffices to know that drift==aileron and yaw==rudder. Of course, even knowing that, executing them well takes practice, but overthinking them turns out to be greatly counterproductive.

Posted by: Jess Sightler at June 8, 2008 11:32 PM | Reply

I was waiting for the perfect day to practice circuit work in gusty, cross-windy conditions.

I got what I asked for, and practiced cross-wind landings for an hour or so. I even tossed a few "precision 180s" in there.

It's important to practice these types of landings.

Posted by: Blake at June 20, 2008 1:30 PM | Reply

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