Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Crosswind Practice

Yesterday I completed my checkout in the 172SP, which is great since West Valley Flying Club has about 10 SPs between San Carlos and Palo Alto, and only two regular 172s that I'm willing to fly. Plus the SPs are newer and more comfortable, especially for passengers. Now I can start flying people around!

Steve and I then took an hour and tried to get my crosswind landing technique to be better. My previous attempts were all messed up; I'd get blown all over the place, and let the wind get up under my upwind wing, which is really a dangerous thing to do -- a great way to lose control of the plane and potentially get flipped over.

I'd been taught to do the whole approach crabbing into the wind (i.e. like a boat crossing a river points several degrees upstream to go across in a straight line, the classic trigonometry problem), and then at the end, straighten the nose with the rudder and drop the upwind wing. But that was getting too challenging, too many things happening at once, since I also had to think about the landing flare. So this time we did the whole approach aligned with the runway and with the upwind wing low. We did a couple of rounds splitting the controls; first I controlled the ailerons for alignment and he controlled the rudders, and then we traded. Then I tried to put it together. By the end, I had it kind of working, but not smoothly. I'm still overcontrolling with the yoke, deflecting too far instead of just making small corrections, and controlling too little with the rudders. But I'm getting it; I think one more lesson and I'll have it!

In the meantime I can fly SPs out of the more wind-friendly Palo Alto!

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