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Bearhawks in crosswinds

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  • Bearhawks in crosswinds

    Hi everyone,

    We have the test flight programme starting this weekend, and one factor we need to consider it crosswinds. We operate from a controlled airport with only one parallel tarmac & narrow grass vector. We are also located at (statistically) one of the most consistently windy airports in the country, winds almost always blow across the runway vector by at least 20 degrees, although winds are usually steady.

    We'll be waiting for the optimal conditions for the first few flights (fortunately the forecast looks ideal), but as we progress deeper into the test flying programme we will undoubtedly be flying a lot of crosswind landings.

    As we know each machine is slightly different, e.g. some need brakes to help steer during roll out, others less-so. I am looking for advice on how much work the Bearhawk is in crosswinds, how experienced you were before you felt comfortable flying significant crosswinds regularly, and how much crosswind-component you would suggest limiting early operations to? Also, maximum demonstrated crosswind component would be helpful?


  • #2
    Here is a couple of old posts on Bearhawks in Crosswinds:

    Arriving at Pensacola the initial plan was a grass runway airport north of town. Two approaches and two aborts had us heading for Pensacola Regional. Cleared for landing on 26 150 X 7000, Dave was facing shifting crosswinds at 45 to 60 degrees, gusts to 35kts. The turbulence was no better but at least there was a much larger target to work with. Dave rolled to final, set landing attitude and drove close formation down the runway not allowing any drift or unwanted motion. Suddenly the cockpit was filled with a blaring klaxon horn and a controller announcing low level wind shear alert. Power up, we are out of there. Second setup is made long to land at the intersection of the crossing runway, out of the trees wind shadow, less turbulence, more x-wind.

    Dave repeated the previous performance and got us safely on the ground.

    The wind was so strong the only allowable ground maneuver was weather vane. Shut down, deplaned, manually pushed back off the active area. Tower was kind enough to send a tug to pull us the mile to the FBO.The tug came with its own crash rescue escort / windbreak.

    Several data points here, single puck brakes are not powerful enough to taxi in extreme wind conditions. If you need multiple puck brakes maybe tied down is a good option? The Bearhawk can handle more crosswind than most pilots are capable of. Pilot technique is the limiting factor. No matter how you spin the E6B we were looking a solid 30 kts 90 deg xwind component.

    I agree that the limiting factor is the pilot's ability. Once when returning to Austin from a trip to our factory with Bob Barrows flying we had monster cross winds at my home strip. 25-30 kts with gusts varying 60 to 90 degrees off the runway. Lucky Bob was flying because he made it look easy. The plane can handle it.

    On that same trip we had to taxi in Brownsville across a 30 kt cross wind to get to the terminal. My brakes (single puck at that time) got HOT on one side but they did OK and got us there. In those rare situations double puck brakes might be preferable. But how many times are we exposed to long taxis with 30 kts crosswind. Not too often. Mark
    Eric Newton - Long Beach, MS
    Bearhawk Tailwheels and Builder's Manuals


    • #3
      Crosswinds are fairly common here in California, and I've done enough landings in crosswinds now that I honestly don't notice the crosswind anymore. That's because I've gotten so used to it, and I think about keeping the fuselage pointed down the runway and killing drift rather than thinking about how big the crosswind is. I've certainly made some landings where one wheel touched well before the other, and I remember seeing the wind sock look like something I would never take off in while I was landing. I can't tell you how much that was because I didn't bother to find out. It was probably around 15 to 20 knots because the windsock was stiff. The Bearhawk is very capable in crosswinds. It does require to pilot to be up to it as well, though.

      I have made it a habit of landing with my feet in a position where I can reach the brakes (heels up off the floor). You have to be careful you don't land with the brakes on. However, when you get to full rudder deflection and you still need more on the ground is NOT the time to be taking your foot off of the pedal to move it up so you can reach the brakes.
      Russ Erb
      Bearhawk #164 "Three Sigma" (flying), Rosamond CA
      Bearhawk Reference CD


      • #4
        Well, I guess to add some data points to this older thread:

        I've now personally flown our machine in up to a 22kt 90 degree crosswind. At no point did the Bearhawk feel like it was approaching it's limits.
        There was ample control deflection left in the rudder during the rollout, and just a little brakes required once the second wheel settled onto the grass to keep the rollout straight down the runway.

        I like to keep the tail high with elevator + brakes until it's slow enough that the rudder is completely ineffective, but I have big enough feet that I can just keep my heels on the floor