Flight log

Hour 22: Back on RW 06

On today's afternoon flight, I'm back on runway 06, after using runway 24 in the morning flight. On the agenda is more circuit training. It was unlikely I'd have a shot at a solo due to the strong cross wind. The wind was almost perpendicular to the runway. This presented an opportunity for another first experience: landings in stronger crosswind.

Full-length video for Hour 22. For the first time, I captured video door to door.

My first solo didn't happen this morning. Maybe I could try again in the mid-day flight?

Not so fast...

The weather was forecast to turn worst. And it did. 

This weather change caused a change of runway back to the usual 06, and wind that was mostly crosswind. This was not a safe environment for a first solo, but it was a great learning opportunity for me to practice crosswind approaches. 

I would be flying with Davide.

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The wind for this session was almost all crosswind at 7 kt, with only a tiny amount of headwind (just 1 kt!). See the diagram on the right.

Here's what BOM shows for the day:

No complaints about the weather on the 18th.

For this flight, ATIS reported this:

Information Echo: Runway 06, Glider operations in progress, wind 140° 7 kt, CAVOK, QNH 1020, 27°C.

How to land in crosswind

Landing a Cessna 172 (or any airplane) in strong crosswinds can be a bit tricky, but with the right technique, you can do it safely and smoothly. Here's how you go about it in a way that's easy to understand, especially if, like me, you're just starting out as a pilot.

First off, when you're approaching the runway, you'll want to keep your plane stable and at the right speed. Because of the crosswind, you'll need to angle, or 'crab', the nose of your plane into the wind. This helps you fly straight towards the runway even though the wind is trying to push you off course.

I actually found this part to be intuitively. I was able to do this without specifically being instructed how to do it. I was simply trying to line up the airplane with the runway, and because of the crosswind, the only way to do it was by pointing the nose into the wind.

As you get closer to the runway, you'll switch from crabbing to what's called a 'side slip'. This is where you turn the nose of your plane to line up with the runway but tilt the wing that's facing the wind down a bit. You'll use your ailerons (those are the controls that move your wings) to tilt the wing and your rudder (the control that moves your plane's nose) to keep your nose straight. This way, you're kind of sliding into the wind but still moving straight toward the runway.

When it's time to actually land, you'll want to touch down with the wheel that's on the side where the wind is coming from first. This is your upwind wheel. As the plane slows down after touching down, you can gradually stop tilting the wing into the wind.

Remember, though, if anything feels off or you're not comfortable with the landing, it's always okay to go around and try again. It's better to be safe and give it another go than to push through and risk a rough landing. I had to do such a "touch on one wheel and go" at the end of circuit 5.

And of course, practice makes perfect. Crosswind landings can be challenging, so the more you practice, the better you'll get. Just make sure you know what your plane can handle in terms of wind, and don't forget to consider your own limits as a pilot. .

So, in a nutshell, landing in a crosswind is all about keeping your plane stable, using the crab and side slip techniques at the right times, and being ready to adjust or go around if needed. Stay focused, practice a lot, and you'll get the hang of it!

The flight

I got into the flight knowing that a solo would be unlikely. I expected that my main challenge would be the crosswind.

I did remember Victor's pointers about using the plane's structures and the runway to help with spacing, and I wanted to see if I could put his advise in practice on this flight. I planned to use the 45° technique (see Hour 21 for more details), and get a feel of the wing strut as a means to measure distance from the runway.

I found that because I had spent so much time using landmarks for spacing, switching to the "runway+plane" technique (my name) was stretching my brain. I turned from crosswind to downwind at 45° a couple of times, but I was too busy with other operations to do the same for the downwind to base turn. The wing strut was not hard to use on downwind.

My main focus was landing with a strong crosswind. I was concerned that I would damage the plane.

However, perhaps for the first time, I found that landing in crosswind was not as hard as I expected. While the pilot still need to be focused and careful, the basic form of the technique is almost intuitive. This is because the pilot naturally points the nose of the plane into the wind in order to keep the track of the plane on the extended centerline.

What was less intuitive was the inputs needed to steer the plane straight on the centerline a few moments before touchdown to prevent it from slipping sideways. These controls require a combination of aileron and rudder (read more above). I did use the rudder to straighten up the plane relatively well, and this did get the plane straight on the centerline. For the amount of crosswind I was landing in, this was sufficient. But in stronger crosswinds I will need to add ailerons.

In circuit 8 I attempted a glide approach which failed. Reasons: (1) I delayed setting the plane to glide speed and (2) I delayed turning to the runway immediately. These two delays cost me altitude, which translates to reduced glide range. If this was a real emergency, I would be landing on a road or patch of land. 

As a result, we changed this approach to flapless.

We did another engine failure simulation in circuit 9, which was much better. I adjusted attitude to get glide speed (68 kt) and turned immediately towards the runway. I locked in the touchdown point to 1/3 the length of the runway, deployed flaps appropriately. Remember, the crosswind was still there, and I wondered how that would effect the approach, but just like with the powered approaches I didn't notice much difficulty.

Hour 22 instructor review

Here is Davide's review (Hour 22):

Unable to send solo due to increasing crosswind and turbulent weather conditions, conducted as a dual flight. Ground procedures conducted to standard. Circuit spacing slightly inconsistent, occasionally too wide or too close, improved as circuits progressed. Stability on base and final has improved compared to previous lessons, some landings were off centerline but flare was performed well. Crosswind technique applied to standard when required. Glide performed to standard. Next lesson recommended to be another 1st solo check in better weather.

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Shorter and narrated video for Hour 22 (Coming soon).

Flight path from Flightradar24 for Hour 22.

On this flight, the wind was almost perpendicular to runway 06.

Landing in crosswind requires the plane's nose to point into the wind.

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