Jan 13 2012

Crazy Crosswinds

Category: Lessons,RamblingsDaniel @ 5:42 am

I’ve landed in some heavy winds in my relatively short time as a pilot (see my other postings linked below), but I can only imagine the types of winds commercial pilots see day in and day out.  Apparently there was a storm over Düsseldorf airport in Germany last week, resulting in some great footage of big planes landing in HEAVY crosswinds.  I remember during flight training explaining to my family and friends how during heavy crosswinds you are basically flying at the runway at an angle and only at the last second do you yaw the plane in line with the runway.   The landings on this video definitely exemplify that quite awesomely.  You can just hear how heavy the winds are roaring that day, crazy stuff.  Enjoy!


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Apr 19 2010

Some Windy Flying

Category: Guest Blogger,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 8:30 pm

As I’ve said many times in the past, flying in Chicago can be a little frustrating. The weather never seems to cooperate, especially on weekends. The last few times I had a plane booked recently it was either too low ceilings, pouring rain, thunder-storming, foggy, or a combination of all three. I was itching to fly. I had a plane booked for this past Saturday for over two weeks, so when the weather reports said skies were going to be clear, I was definitely rearing to go. I had my parents coming up to fly and it just worked out that my new friend and guest blogger Kenan was finishing his 3rd flying lesson minutes before I had my plane booked. So, the four of us were going to hit up lunch in Sheboygan.

When we got to the airport, it was windy (I won’t lie), but nothing atrocious. Automated reporting stations had it at 15 knots gusting to 20. I had flown in worse plenty of times, so I wasn’t too worried it – and didn’t really feel like canceling since so many recent flights were scrubbed for weather. We didn’t want to waste this beautifully clear day. The takeoff went fine and although the flight was a little bumpy at times, the air was fairly smooth and everyone enjoyed the 77 nautical mile journey. Upon getting to the Sheboygan area the winds had picked up though, and although KSBM has two almost perpendicular runways, the windsock had the wind splitting the runways at a 45° angle no matter which way you cut it. I knew landing would be fun. I tried Runway 31, didn’t like the approach and went around. I then tried Runway 3 and things weren’t lining up again and I went around. Finally, on my 3rd try I put her down quite smoothly on Runway 3 (more smoothly and softly than even on some no-wind days). Needless-to-say, the first topic of conversation at lunch was how happy we all were to be safely on the ground.

What I failed to realize earlier in the day is that although I’m plenty used to going around, my passengers (my parents in particular) might not be so cool with it. I have no ego, I’m totally fine with going around if something isn’t lining up correctly – ultimately it’s the safest thing to do. However, it’s easy to forget sometimes that even normal landings can be a bit stressful for some passengers in a general aviation plane – doing it 3 times in a row doesn’t help or lend to their confidence. Kenan, a fellow (student) pilot, who went around a couple times earlier that day himself, didn’t bat an eye about my going around – but I know my parents definitely had their hearts racing and probably a little sweat too. The flight back was fairly smooth but the wind was solidly perpendicular to the one runway at Westosha (see the picture of the wind sock just after we landed). I nailed the landing the first try (I guess it’s all about knowing your home runway). BUT, like many good crosswind landings, it involves a substantial crab angle, landing on the windward wheel first and putting the plane down seemingly at an angle. Again, although everything went textbook, one could cut the stress tension from my parents with a knife.

Ultimately, we all laughed about the experience and my parents still want to fly again with me – just maybe on less windy days now. Lesson learned – flying alone or with other pilots is a LOT different than flying with general passengers fairly new to general aviation. And although landing in crosswinds is good practice, letting your parents “see the workings of the sausage factory” might be something to keep for solo days. Lunch at Sheboygan was great though – “The Final Approach” restaurant is a nice classy airport restaurant right off Runway 21. All in all, a really “fun” day though! Check out the pic of Kenan, my dad, and me – and all our hair (what’s left of it) being blown around. My Mom had to take the picture because the mini-tripod for the camera wouldn’t stand up in the wind!

This flight I logged 2.3 hours of cross-country pilot-in-command time.

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May 21 2008

Really Nailing Crosswind Landings

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 5:54 am

So my last lesson (this past Saturday) probably should have been the day I go solo for the first time, but it was very windy and directly across the runway at Westosha (thanks a lot, Chicago weather). So, we worked on crosswind landings yet again. I’m happy to report I had some of my best landings to date this day, even when conditions were extremely challenging. Also, the crosswinds afforded us the opportunity to practice various landing types I’ve done only sparsely in the past: no flaps, little flaps, and shortened runway.

All-in-all, the lesson wasn’t very eventful and I’m very much looking forward to a non-windy day at Westosha so I can finally solo. Hopefully it’ll be tomorrow!

This lesson I logged 1.5 hours of flight time and 10 landings.

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May 15 2008

Nailing Crosswind Landings

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 7:21 pm

As part of my pre-solo check flight last time flying, that CFI recommended I only need to work on crosswind landings before going solo.  So, that’s what I worked on this past lesson…for over two hours!  Luckily there was a fairly decent crosswind of about 10 knots or so, directly across the runway.  As such, we had the option most of the time to takeoff and land from either direction, which made for an efficient use of time!  All-in-all, the lesson wasn’t terribly interesting as we literally just stayed in the pattern and worked on landings and takeoffs over and over.  Some were better than others, some were pretty ugly, but ultimately by the end I had a much improved grasp on this complicated maneuver.  I still wouldn’t want to tackle heavy crosswinds all by myself, but that’s what practice is for.  I also now finally get (and can verbalize properly) how to put the ailerons while on the ground with wind…that got me last time out.

Hopefully next lesson will be the big one…my CFI told me “not to wear my Armani t-shirts”…I figure that’s a good sign.  This lesson I logged 2.3 hours of flight time and 16 landings.

P.S. – While en route to Mexico for my vacation last week I listened to ATC while on my United flight.  It was funny and interesting to hear air traffic control in Spanish half the time once we crossed the border.  Our pilot/navigator was definitely having a hard time understanding them sometimes and had to have commands repeated multiple times (in the heavily accented English).  I was expecting the controller to swear in Spanish, but they always kept their cool.

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May 06 2008

Pre-Solo Check Flight

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 8:00 pm

This past lesson I had my “pre-solo check flight” – a requirement of my flying club.  It’s really a stage check for the club to make sure students won’t break the planes and for another CFI to make sure my usual CFI isn’t out of his mind.  I rode with the club president, which was a little intimidating at first, but things went pretty well.

This CFI first had me pre-flight the plane and gave me a small verbal quiz.  He was definitely asking very difficult and obscure questions, to probe how deep my knowledge was and probably to teach me a little.  Some of the stuff I had no idea, but again, he didn’t really expect me to know it either.  We then proceeded to taxi and takeoff.  It was exciting (and a little weird) to taxi and takeoff without ANY words/prompting from the CFI.  Once in the air, he made me show him general flight maneuvers like slow flight, steep turns, and turns around a point.  All went fine.Checkmark

The CFI promised there would be some type of simulated emergency during our check ride, and sure enough on the way back to the airport he said “you see smoke in the cabin, what do you do?”  Me being me, I over-thought the exercise and starting reciting back some of the emergency procedures from the Cessna manual.  He then asked, “but what first”…of which I started blanking.  He then said “get the damn plane on the ground first…you don’t want to be in the air with a fire…screw the checklist at that point.”  That makes sense I guess!  So, we pulled the throttle, looked for a place to land (which we were over Westosha anyways) and I glided the plane down for a no engine (with simulated fire) emergency landing.  Surprisingly, this landing (without any engine power) went great…I was pretty happy.

We taxied back and took off again, this time with a fairly steady crosswind.  I was spacing a bit on how to hold the ailerons during crosswinds in general (still not coming natural to me) and verbally I called the wind direction wrong.  We remained in the pattern and I landed with the crosswind.  The final approach was a bit rough as I overshot the runway on the base leg (not compensating enough for the crosswind).  I put the plane down okay, though.

The CFI was generally fine with my abilities at this point and recommended just working on crosswind landings a bit more with my usual CFI (which I can’t argue against).  He said I should be solo’ing with just a few more crosswind landings under my belt…exciting stuff!  I’m off to Mexico now for vacation, so you won’t hear from me for a week or so.

This lesson I logged 0.9 hours of flight time.

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Mar 29 2008

Takeoffs and Landings – Fifth Lesson

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 2:51 pm

This morning, in lesson #5, we focused on takeoffs and landings. My CFI is also starting to not talk as we go through things, letting me fully control and decide upon controls. It’s exciting and kinda’ scary to know I’m basically totally controlling the plane (he even keeps his hands off the controls most of the time).  I also started calling out the radio announcements,  like “Westosha Traffic, Cessna 920, Departing Runway 3, Remaining in Pattern”…I felt more and more like a real pilot today.

Landing RunwayThere was a slight (roughly 9 mph) crosswind on the 3/21 paved runway at Westosha, so we tried a few crosswind landings and takeoffs. Because the turf runway is almost perpendicular to the paved one, we also practiced short field landings and takeoffs on the turf. This was particularly challenging as we even shortened the turf runway further (to about 1/3) because there was a little snow on the crossing between the runways. The turf is surprisingly bumpy and swampy because of all the melted snow…it really felt like “bush flying.” However, after a bunch of those takeoffs and landings, running on the pavement was a breeze!

Obviously we also worked on the climb-outs and approaches, as well as general pattern/traffic flying. There is a LOT to remember and control for…it definitely felt like another sub-par performance by me, but my CFI keeps telling me I’m way ahead of the curve. I trust him and I know with each and every repetition of these maneuvers it becomes more easy and second-nature. It’s just tooo fun!

This lesson I logged 1.2 hours.

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Mar 26 2008

Challenging Windy Fourth Lesson

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 4:59 pm

I’m told that wind can make flying a very difficult experience. I quickly learned yesterday during my fourth lesson how true that is! There were steady west winds of 20+ mph during my entire flight experience. Besides the challenge of the wind, we worked on some pretty complicated stuff (or at least seemed complicated to me at this point). By the end of my lesson, my head was spinning for a variety of reasons:

Wind Blowing Cloud1) We worked more on stalls and recovery procedures. This time my CFI had me stall the plane in various situations (power on, power off, while banking) and recover quickly. Luckily, the plane literally DOES indeed want to fly itself and making the corrections came very natural to me (they are all pretty logical anyways) and the plane reacts fine. However, going up and down in altitude as frequently as we did did twinge my stomach of steel even.

2) My CFI demonstrated a spin/spiral and how to recover. Thankfully, I’LL hopefully never be forced into this situation, but my CFI urged me to experience it (even though it’s not necessary). I must admit, heading straight for the ground and spinning (although I knew I was safe and it was indeed thrilling) is not really fun. I’m glad my CFI had the controls and literally had to work to get the plane to do something this unnatural. I’m always glad to see how much the plane wants to fly straight and normal.

3) S-Turns and Ground Reference Maneuvers. These aren’t normally that difficult, but the winds make it really “fun”. Lots of extra compensating to keep the plane from drifting and going off course.

4) Finally, we had to land in a strong crosswind. This is the “most difficult thing to do in flying” and I guess I did pretty good. Obviously my CFI helped me a ton (honestly, I think he landed)…but seeing the amount of extra that goes into a crosswind landing definitely makes me want to review a few chapters in my reference book again!

Needless to say, this was a very busy and complicated lesson and when we landed I had a LOT to think about and process. I AM excited to get back in the air on Saturday though (if the weather plays nice).

This lesson I logged 1.4 hours of flight time.

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