Lee Tenhoff wrote:
Well said Frank.Please give us your angle on crosswinds.You are already teacher to your readers.cheers,lee
Well, one always read about how grand the rite of passage the solo is, but it was probably the most unclimatic part of my training - popping around the pattern was relaxing and fun, particularly since I didn't have 160 pounds of simulated engine failure removed from the right seat.
Due to a maintenance issue with the plane (somebody did a hard landing and tweaked the gear), I had a two month break in training. We went from big turbulence and gusts that exceeded whatever the horizontal winds were by six knots (I swear) to fall winds that were a perfect 90 degrees to the runway with mild turbulence.
To make matters worse, I decided very early on that I would have my instruction in the afternoons, usually at 1:00 p.m., so I got the worst of it. The idea was that while it is more challenging to learn then rather than first thing in the morning or late in the evening when the air is better behaved, I want to have it thrown at me with an instructor handy and get those skills as early on as I could. Lemme tell you, it pays dividends! Give me zero gusting at two and I'm literally chuckling with how fun and uncomplicated it is....not that I'm an ace that greases it in, but it sure is nice to put a plane on the center line and not have to do anything to keep it there other than fly straight.
So, anyhow, my first taste of meaningful crosswinds were a terrifying 7 knots gusting to 10 - but at 90 degrees to the runway. I'd of taken another one if the airport had been so kind as to lay one out for me. The CTLS is not very crosswind friendly, and there was A LOT of instructor "help" in landings. I stank so much at it that everything in the syllabus went on hold until I could get ahold of this, as crosswinds happen.
Part of my problem was that I was afraid that I'd break the airplane (there are several students flying it, so it could have been any of us that torqued it). If you don't fly confidently, you can't fly well.
I was scowling after that first hour. Two days later was a repeat. Just couldn't maintain the centerline and was yawing at the flare. I could hear what the instructor was saying but just wasn't comprehending what to do.
"Dagnabbit," he said (or words to that effect), "aileron left, rudder right, and keep it straight all the way down. Keep flying the airplane all the gosh derned way to the runway and while on the runway. Give me the controls, I'll show you again, you follow through on the controls."
"You have the controls/I have the controls/You can have these blankety-blank controls."
"It's a slip," I exhaled, "it's just a *******' small slip that you hold, letting one wheel come down first, using the rudder to counteract the turn to keep it straight. And then let the other wheel come down as the airplane stops flying."
"Two hours and it finally sank in, huh? Let's do one more and then put her up in the hanger; you're whipped, and next week you'll be able to come out and land these no problem."
We did two more, and on both I didn't need any assistance even though they were ugly. I was pretty disheartened, though. Everything up to that point had gone really well, and I was struggling.
"How many of these have we done?" my instructor asked.
"Twelve. Twelve *******' disasters."
"The last two were all you."
"And they stank."
"Landing is all about the last ten seconds," he explained, "which means you have one hundred twenty seconds - two minutes - of actual experience in real crosswind landings. And this plane is the hardest plane I've ever had to deal with on crosswinds."
Well, I did a head check that weekend. If the plane breaks, it breaks. Worrying about it won't keep it unbroke - flying well will, and that means doing "the thing with the thing" and concentrating on what I'm doing and doing it as I've been taught. I knew there was going to be something that was going to hang me up, and this was it. Darn it, I've been getting too much satisfaction from flying to let this whip me.
I let the words "I am piloting an aircraft" roll over me. How cool is that? I am piloting an aircraft! Me!
So four days later we had a break - a sixty degree crosswind - and sure enough I had the measure of the problem. Part of it was having the task click in my head, but a big piece was not worrying about this, that, or what might happen and just go for it as it came, one turn and flare at a time.
Final prep for check ride on Monday and then the Big Test as soon as I can schedule it.