Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Don’t sound so surprised!

The 10 gusting 15 knot crosswinds forecast for today ruled out my going solo. Technically the flight school has a 10 knot crosswind limit for solo students. In practice this is at the instructor’s discretion, at the end of the day Bob is vouching for me every time he signs me out solo. The conditions which he considers safe for me are obviously going to change as my training progresses.

Now I’ve landed in a near 10 knot crosswind before. Solo as well but with one importance difference. Although the runway I was coming in on had a 10 knot crosswind, there was (theoretically) another, more into wind runway that I could have requested if needed. My plan had always been to take a couple of bashes on 26 and then request 33 if necessary.

Today, that option wasn’t available to me. They hadn’t gotten round to ploughing 33 yet. Because I didn’t have that “out” today, I decided not to solo. I did want to fly though so Bob and I went up and had a really good, productive lesson.

On the way back, I took off the hood and set up for the straight in approach on 26. I lined up reasonably well for the runway and even had enough capacity to curse ATC for turning a guy a little too tight behind me for my comfort. “I guess I’m keeping my speed up then.” I muttered.

I set up for the slip early than usual. Although this take a bit of effort to maintain on a longer final, I felt it was worth it as the winds were now gusting 15 knots across the runway. I wanted to get a good feel of how to set it up for the landing.

I come in a little fast maybe but I let the speed bleed off, so I float a little but I’m still going to make it down by foxtrot.

“Just lessen your bank angle a little” is the only input I get or indeed need from Bob. As I comply, the excess drift sorts itself out and we touch down on one wheel then the next. Spot on.
“Hey you made it, good job,” remarks Bob.

I respond in a mock outraged manner “You don’t have to sound so surprised!” But in truth I’m surprised as well. This is probably the most severe crosswind that I’ve attempted so far and I did a pretty passable job. It all adds to my overall comfort level. If I’m out there and the winds turn nasty I’ve got a reasonable chance of getting it down in one piece and at the end of the day, that’s the overall goal!

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