Lesson 14: Crabbing in the rain | 06/21/15

Although we had planned to fly my first cross country over to Allentown, PA, today’s lesson sat between two storms and we didn’t want to risk getting caught in the second one, so we rescheduled my first cross country to the week after next.   But it all worked out nicely; it was father’s day so we convinced my dad to come flying with me for his first time.   Our takeoff was a little shifty because of the strong crosswind but once we got to cruising altitude the flying got much smoother.   We flew over to the Tappan Zee bridge just under the NY class B airspace and  did some sightseeing over the Hudson.   I tried to set up the GoPro to catch the view of Manhattan, but for some reason I couldn’t turn it on so I abandoned it; in the future I will only use the GoPro if I set it up on the ground so all I have to do is press record.   We then made our way to Greenwood lake, constantly monitoring different ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service) and ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System) stations to make sure the weather didn’t  sneak up on us.   However other than some high altitude broken clouds, the sky was clear and it was a beautiful day.   We tracked the Sparta VOR inbound to Greenwood Lake airport but the crosswind was too severe to land at that small of an airport so we made our way back to Caldwell.   Caldwell Tower told us to enter left downwind for runway 28 (a very unusual and uncommon pattern entry) and although this was my first landing on runway 28 in a while, I pulled off a pretty good landing.   We taxied back to Fischer to drop off my dad and then we took off again from runway 22 for some pattern work.   There was a pretty heavy crosswind in the low teens so I got some long awaited crosswind landing practice.   I noticed when I looked at the GPS flight overview that my patterns at caldwell were rectangular however my downwind legs tended to bend a little towards the runway; I have to better adjust for the wind on downwind in the future.   We got about 10 landings in and I got some valuable practice and experience with crosswinds.   I learned the crab method of counteracting a crosswind, and I have found that my favorite crosswind approach is keeping a crab on final and then switching to a slip just before flaring.   Towards the end I started to see the clouds that the weather reports had promised and the wind ramped up to the lower 20s.   On the last couple of touch and goes it began to rain; my first time piloting an airplane in the rain.   My last few landings were pretty hairy but I had gotten enough practice to pull them off.   One thing I need to practice is better airspeed control; partially due to the gusts and partially due to the amount of things that I had to cycle my focus through, the airspeed of the plane wavered from 80 knots to 60 knots, 70 knots being the appropriate approach speed.   However I stayed in control and Bob never had to take the controls.   Our third to last landing was especially intense.   The windshield was being pelted by heavy rain, fog was beginning to engulf the airport (although we still had plenty enough visibility to do pattern work in), and the crosswind ramped up to the lower to mid 20s.   But Bob was not satisfied.   To test me even further, he requested a short approach, and cut the throttle, giving me only five words of advice: “Get me to the runway”.   I immediately turned crosswind knowing that the heavy winds could make me lose altitude fast.   I then put down 10 degrees of flaps and turned final, battling to maintain altitude, track the centerline, and keep my airspeed; a stall or spin from that altitude would not be good news.   I brought down thirty degrees of flaps when I had the runway made and slowly brought the airplane down.   Although on the centerline, my landing was not the best; I kept my nose down because I was afraid of stalling out, but I kept it a little too far down, and I landed partially on the nose wheel.   It seemed like a smooth landing at first, but the small bump on the nose wheel caused it to spring back up and pull the airplane back into the air (and the crosswind).   Bob immediately stepped in and stopped the porpoise that ensued.   This taught me a valuable lesson on emergency landings.   Although the landing was successful, I have to remember that I can’t float too high above the runway without an engine, but I can’t land on my nose wheel either.   I have to make sure to be extra focused and keep that small envelope between a stall and a porpoise, making sure the nose wheel is above the ground on landing, but only by a few inches.   I learned many valuable lessons today and I look forward to my next bout with crosswind landings.

 

Flight Overview

Flight Overview

Enlarged view of our flyover over Greenwood Lake airport

Enlarged view of our flyover over Greenwood Lake airport

Enlarged view of the CDW traffic pattern

Enlarged view of the CDW traffic pattern