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Crosswind Adventures

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  • Crosswind Adventures

    So Central Wisconsin is pretty awesome today.

    I'm still a pretty green tailwheel pilot with a couple of years of C-140 time under my belt. Even then I've been taking it pretty easy on crosswinds. This Maule has me terrified of them, but a healthy fear is good. Keeps you on point and paying attention to what you're doing. I had a gusty 90* crosswind in the Cutlass last summer that made me question WTH I was doing flying that day. But I was successful in getting it on the ground and had a reusable airplane. 😁

    While today it's smart to stay on the ground, I'm looking forward to getting more crosswind practice with my favorite TW instructor when the weather improves.

    Anyone have any crosswind stories to tell? Pat Fagan's (Smokey Bearhawk) crosswind takeoff adventure still sticks in my mind to this day. It's one that I think of during each departure event. I hope to keep the pointy end forward at all times!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    ​Christopher Owens, EAA #808438
    Project "Expedition"
    Bearhawk 4-Place Scratch Built, Plans #991
    Bearhawk Patrol Scratch Built, Plans #P313
    Germantown, Wisconsin, USA

  • #2
    Many, Many cross wind almost catastrophes. My advice to all, especially when you get closer to finished, is to find an instructor willing to fly those days with you. My tailwheel guy would not fly with me unless it was windy that day and I believe he indirectly saved my bacon on many occasions. Because of that training when the time came I knew I could, because I had. A friend ruined her plane one day in a crosswind she didn’t expect. Left that morning and it was as calm as it could get, not so on the return trip. Practice, practice practice!!!


    • #3
      Hmmm... Looking at that METAR, I'm reminded of the sign I read, many years ago: "It's better to be on the ground, wishing you were flying, than to be flying, wishing you were on the ground." Having been in both situations, I can attest to the wisdom of the sign!



      • #4
        Chris, that moment still sticks in my mind too for some reason. Unfortunately, the Bearhawk might not be the best airplane for mastering nasty crosswinds. It can actually make you lazy. Any cross wind that gets you sitting up in the seat in anticipation can usually be handled quite easily by landing across the runway or on a taxi way as the wind will keep the roll out ridiculously short. I will usually try the runway first but if I'm tired I'll opt for the easy solution. Of course those of you who fly at a towered field may not be so fortunate.


        • #5
          Towered fields will sometimes approve you to "land at pilot's discretion" if you ask to land on a taxiway because of excessive crosswinds. (Don't ask...)
          Jim Parker
          Farmersville, TX (NE of Dallas)
          RANS S-6ES – E-LSA powered by 100 HP Rotax 912ULS


          • Flygirl1
            Flygirl1 commented
            Editing a comment
            Sounds like an interesting story??? As a student pilot I lost the "big" picture going into Flint Mi and admitted it to the gal in the tower. She said--"Oh land on whatever runway you want". In not such a nice tone. Very tempting to land on the taxiway!! At our local TWR if the taxiway crossed the in use or main runway, you might get denied because of other traffic in the pattern that were using it, but other than that the wording they used was something different than at your own discretion. Can't remember what it was, but it still put the ball in your court to land or take off from there if you wanted. This included any other available runways. Also they didn't approve of the grassy area on the side of the runway. (Not my story as to how I know that). D.

          • JimParker256
            JimParker256 commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, I think the actual wording is "at your own risk."

            The "story" is from my last flight in an Grumman Traveler I would be delivering in a few days for a prebuy examination. I really wanted to take one last flight around the local area before taking it to the buyer. I took off in winds that were 15-20 knots, but right down the runway, and forecast to remain that way for the next 24 hours. Once I got to altitude, the wind was a lot stronger, and the air was quite turbulent. I stuck it out for about a 1/2 hour, but finally had enough and headed back home. I noticed that there was no other traffic in the pattern (highly unusual at our airport), and when I checked in with tower, they reported the winds were now 90º to the runway heading, 20G35! I thought about that a bit, knowing that the closest airport that has a true crosswind runway is maybe 150 miles away. Then I called tower back and asked if I could land on the perpendicular taxiway (the one that does NOT dead end into a row of hangars), and they approved it, but made it clear that the landing was at my own risk. LOL I thought the risk was a LOT lower landing directly into a 20G35 wind than with that same wind as a direct crosswind! Made one of the shortest landings of my life, but taxiing that castering nose gear airplane back to the hangar was quite an experience. I was having to use nearly full throttle and a LOT of downwind brake to get the plane to taxi directly across that wind to get to my hangar... And every time I'd cross downwind of a row of hangars, the plane would dramatically and quickly veer off downwind until I corrected it. Then I'd get to another gap in the hangars, and it would veer off upwind. Quite a ride, indeed.

            The delivery flight a few days later was absolutely unremarkable, other than great weather and a tailwind...

        • #6
          Most of the time most control towers are pretty good about working with you for whatever you need, especially in a case like this when it is safer to land somewhere other than a runway. Sometimes you have to explain why you are making what may seem to be an odd request before they will approve it though. As far as the "Landing will be at pilot's risk to (north ramp, B taxiway, or whatever) tower can not actually clear you to land anywhere other than a runway so you won't get a "cleared to land B taxiway", They can approve it, but can't give a clearance. Confusing the first time you hear it. Same for taking off from non-movement areas. No "Takeoff from North ramp and fly 180" It will be more like "After departure fly 180" Not common in the fixed wing world. Most of my landings and takeoffs at work to and from controlled airports are to/from the ramp and that's the terminology we get.
          Sharing this so you can file it away in case the day comes when you do need to ask for something out of the ordinary. At that point you are probably already feeling a bit unsure about how things are going and don't need the extra confusion of wondering if you are really "clear" to land.

          As for crosswinds, most of my tailwheel time is in a Piper Pacer, a bit short coupled and can be a handful in a crosswind. I won't go on about how close I came to ground looping a couple times, I'll just share that the Patrol handles much, much better in crosswind landings.
          Rollie VanDorn
          Findlay, OH
          Patrol Quick Build


          • #7
            There's a Harrison Ford joke in here somewhere, begging to get out.
            Scratch building Patrol #275
            Hood River, OR


            • #8
              Last time there was a strong crosswind our single-vector airport, I just landed across the grass runway.

              It's fun to say you've done it. I have landed with a 30kts crosswind, but it's a very busy piloting job with no room for error, and a hair-raising experience. On this occasion I wasn't feeling game.

              The grass runway is 70m wide, and with a very steady 20kt crosswind this was more than enough room. We were loaded to about 50% of MAUW.

              I flew a normal approach down the runway centreline, then drifted downwind (sideways) on short finals away from the centreline. At the last minute, I turned into wind about 50ft above the runway, killed the throttle and dropped in. We had a taxiway in front of us in case the runway wasn't wide enough, but we got stopped in no time.


              • Battson
                Battson commented
                Editing a comment
                Knock it off you two!

              • Flygirl1
                Flygirl1 commented
                Editing a comment
                Jim, in another post you mentioned you fly helicopters. From my experience, and this landing across the runway, it’s starting to look like the Patrol is the next best thing. ;-). Where do I see these video's your talking about????? ( Unfortunately--I "get" the Yogi reference and thought it was genius! Sounds like a slogan in the making to me. ) D.
                Last edited by Flygirl1; 03-30-2017, 12:32 AM.

              • JimParker256
                JimParker256 commented
                Editing a comment
                Look for his "Bearhawk in the Backcountry" posts here on this site.