Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Cross Winds Under Control

I'm having some trouble with weather and schedules again, and all I could find on the schedule was an hour with Mario in 661, but I took it anyway, and it was a good lesson.  When I called ATIS, the wind was 220° at 8 knots, almost a direct crosswind (well, 70° anyway).  This sounded like a good chance for some pattern work with crosswind, something I hadn't done in a while.  One MAJOR thing I need to do all the time…
  • Draw and/or talk through the projected wind situation before the flight, or if it's a return from x-country, after I get wind info from ATIS!
By this I mean, "OK, 220° is from the southwest, 70° from the runway heading, a LEFT crosswind, so I will need to establish a crab to the left on takeoff, and I will have a headwind on the crosswind leg, so I'll be slow there.  Then on left downwind leg, the wind will be from the RIGHT, so I'll have to crab out to the right, away from the runway to keep spacing constant, and I will have to make MORE than a 90° turn onto base leg, where I will have a TAIL wind.  This will make the base leg very fast, so I will have to anticipate this and start my turn to final earlier to avoid the overshoot.  Final approach will require a crab to the LEFT to hold the centerline, and on short final, transition to the slip, HOLDING IN the left bank to counter drift and straightening the airplane's axis with right rudder to stay aligned with the runway.  This will put me in a left-wing-low attitude so left (upwind) wheel will touch down first."  Whew!  That's a lot to think through, but as long as it still isn't automatic for me, I should do that sort of self-talk every time.  Mario says this is good preparation for instrument work when you can't use visual references.

Anyway, once I got in the pattern, I did pretty well with all this, and my pattern was fairly square.  I did overshoot final once or twice (out of 6), but flew back over the centerline OK.  I drifted on short final a couple of times but corrected OK – better to correct sooner and keep it lined up all the way, of course.  On one landing, there was a truck on the runway and I was told to do a 500 foot "low approach" – I didn't know what this meant, and I had some trouble with the read-back (I need to learn to be more brief in general on the radio).  What it means is, DON'T LAND, just pass over the runway at 500 feet or higher (1500 MSL at ORH).  Apparently this is for spacing, to keep the pattern going, more or less a holding action, but it was weird.

On another approach, there was an Allegheny Dash-8 turboprop on long final ahead of me, so Brian (tower) said "continue downwind, I'll call your base."  I properly slowed down to avoid going too far out over the city, and I stayed high to be above the airliner's path to avoid wake turbulence.  It was cool to see him pass me counter-parallel at about 1 mile distance (maybe less) as I was downwind and he was on short final.  All in all, it was a good flight.  Mario said I really have the procedure down and just need some more practice to smooth it out.  Other notes:
  • Radio brevity!  Don't read back everything, just the essential stuff (what they want you to actually do). There's an article on this in the new March issue of Flight Training magazine.
  • Remember to flare!  And keep the nose up as I do, ready to add power if I flare a bit too high, which I still often do!
  • Fly the airplane all the way to the runway!  Keep the wind correction in until all three wheels are rolling, and use back pressure to keep weight off the nose wheel and improve braking.
Time: 0.8 hours dual, C152 at ORH.

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