Lesson 17: Wicked Crosswinds | 10/18/15

Yesterday’s lesson one one of the most intense lessons I’ve had in a long time.   We started out the lesson normally; we checked the weather, and found that they skies were mostly clear, visibility was good, and there was a strong and gusty crosswind, finally giving me a chance to practice crosswind landings.   We talked a little bit about crosswinds and then headed out to preflight the plane.   Once we started up the engine and got clearance, we taxied to runway 4, ran up the engine, and took off.   Immediately as we rose into the air I could feel the crosswind biting at the plane.   Any small movement of the ailerons would catch the wind and jerk the yoke, forcing me to keep a steel grip on it.   I had no idea how I was going to land in such extreme winds.   My first approach was crazy.   It was a constant battle to fight the wind, and keep my airspeed under control.   We sank towards the runway, swaying back and forth across the centerline, and the winds got even more choppy as we fell below the tree line, which stirred up the wind creating even more turbulence.   I tried to flare as late as possible, as my instructor had advised me to, and we floated for a moment, until suddenly the plane caught another gust and jolted towards the runway.   Somehow I reacted at the last second and pulled back the yoke just enough and we touched down surprisingly smoothly.   After that, I gained some confidence, and began to smooth out my approaches.   I even experimented some with incorporating a combination of crabbing and slipping into my approach.   Some landings were hairier than others, but I definitely feel much more confident in my abilities to land in a crosswind than I did when I started.   Here is the GPS track of the lesson (the elongated departure leg was requested by ATC, as was the shorter one to avoid traffic, and the one downwind leg that dips towards the runway was when I was trying to avoid a plane taking off on runway 28, right below us):

GPS overview of flight

GPS overview of the flight