Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lesson 16: Crosswind fun

Plane: Champ
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, wind 340 degrees at 8 knots gusting to 16

With the winds blowing pretty much directly across the runway, conditions weren't exactly right for me to solo. However, it was great weather for practicing crosswind takeoffs and landings. Hopefully it's calm enough tomorrow night for me to take to the sky on my own!

Per the usual as of late, we did not leave the pattern during today's lesson. It had been a while since I landed in such strong crosswinds (back in Lesson 6, to be precise) so after last night's strong headwinds it was another day of good practice. My first couple takeoffs weren't the greatest as I did not let the plane weathercock into the wind as much as it needed to. After that, I properly used lots of right aileron to keep the right wing low and used the rudder to keep the plane tracking straight down the runway. My last two takeoffs were very smooth, with me lifting off very gently and allowing the plane to turn into the wind. It was interesting to notice how strongly the plane cocked into the wind at about 150 feet agl once we were past the "tree level" where the trees help to break the wind.

Being the middle of the afternoon with plenty of puffy cumulus clouds in the sky, the ride was somewhat bumpy. We hit a few good pockets of air that jolted us one way or the other and the heat also caused plenty of rising air that often pushed me a little too high on downwind. Landing-wise my approach path was generally quite good, but it always got more interesting right above the runway. There, the air tends to rise and fall due to some uneven heating along with winds that shift around thanks to the trees and terrain. On about the fifth landing, we hit a good gust that banked the plane pretty severely so I had to correct and continue my descent. Aside from the bumps, bounces, and crosswind my landings were good overall the entire afternoon. None were total greasers, but considering the wind situation they all ended up quite smooth.

It was also very weird to use a right forward slip (since you generally want to have the wing raised into the wind when slipping) to bleed off speed and altitude. I've realized that I am at the point where a left forward slip is a maneuver I just do automatically and don't even have to think about. But since ones to the right are not so common, I still found myself saying "right aileron, left rudder" in my head this afternoon. Dave had me intentionally come in quite high one time so I would have to slip it hard to the right and that helped. Since most slips are made to the left (left bank + right rudder) it was good practice.

I'm looking forward to flying again tomorrow!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 19.4 hours

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