June 8, 2008
Crosswind Landings: Just Do It
In 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 Todd McClamroch at June 8, 2008 3:56 PM