Crosswind Landings

Some ridiculous winds we’re having in Fairbanks this year!

Ick, look at how the wind is bending that tree at the entrance to the general aviation area of PAFA
Ick, look at how the wind is bending that tree at the entrance to the general aviation area of PAFA. Fairbanks is usually never windy – except this year.

The plan was to try and to finish my solo cross country flight hours today but at 6am, the clouds were too low, mountain obscuration AIRMET, yada (including an Alaskan volcano SIGMET – although it wouldn’t have been a factor for me). Yucky weather forecasted all day.

I had the plane booked anyways so it was supposedly a good time to practice solo landings. Light winds straight down the runway before 7am, cool.

As soon as I got to the airport at 8 though, the winds started to pick up and the crosswind kept increasing, peaking around 7knots I think. Darn. Do preflight anyways.

I went inside to get someone to help me loosen the dipstick for me to finish preflighting and CFI2 asked me what my aeronautical decision making steps were telling me.

I really didn’t want to deal with the winds alone and I did say so (not that CFI2 or CFI4 going to let me do so regardless). The Fairbanks DPE happened to be sitting in the office listening to my logic and that made it really easy to just decide not to go up alone. Honestly though, if he wasn’t sitting there, I don’t know if I would have been as fast in deciding not to go alone. That worries me a bit (although I don’t know whether or not it should because I know I wouldn’t have chosen to go alone. Does the speed of my decision matter?)

CFI2 and I did some touch-and-goes and I have the following reminders and notes for myself:

  • I raise the nose too high on takeoff- keep nose wheel only a few inches off runway til I build enough speed.
  • Even after the mains are airborne, I need to pitch down more (adjust my personal sight picture).
  • On downwind, reduce power setting so airspeed doesn’t really exceed 85 (in the 152)-oh, that’s why these rpms are so much lower than cruise, i finally get it.
  • As soon as one is on final, can go ahead and use rudder to keep straight, don’t need to wait if you’re on glidepath
  • The PAPIs were being fixed in between my landings so I had to wait for tower to call my base and the maintenance guy to clear the runway. Extending downwind wasn’t a problem (traffic pattern @PAFA- hold at 1200′ until base turn), but I usually got low on final and wasn’t proactive enough in getting back on glidepath. (Side note: amazing how they get anything done since they can only work ~3 minutes at a time)
  • Don’t forget about the final notch of flaps.
  • Pitch needs to be constant, control airspeed with power, stop getting so slow. Or fast.
  • 20′ off runway: don’t stop flying the plane til you’re at taxi speed. The variable speed crosswinds are getting annoying.
  • With a crosswind, want to carry in a bit of power til you’re on the runway.
  • Power completely off immediately 7after touching down, especially with a crosswind. Stop landing in such a flat configuration.
  • Do the correct crosswind taxi aileron and elevator positioning.

I was so nervous about this flight: 1 there was a light rain, 2. This flight was after I’d been allowed to do the solo cross country so I wanted very much to show I knew what I was doing, 3. It was CFI2.

I can and should be doing better, and it is sad I am not.


4 thoughts on “Crosswind Landings

  1. Hang in there….I know it seems discouraging. But with landings there are good days and then there not so good days. This happens even after you get your license. Just keep at it, and soon you will get there..

    I did so many during my PPL, I wondered if I would ever be ready for the checkride 🙂

    Good luck with your training…


    1. I didn’t realize it until I read your comment, but I really needed the words of encouragement. Thank you! I’m flying again on Thursday and I am hoping for the best 🙂


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