Lesson 18 - Sunday April 11th

Windy Practice

The Friday lesson was cancelled, as Tanya was caught up in moving house, so I'd not flow for four days when I arrived at Justice at 3PM Sunday.

I'd got the weather report before I left, which I described in the last lesson.   This time I typed up a form I could use to fill in the information that they give me.  Click Here to see it.   It worked reasonably well.  At the end of the briefing I asked the woman on the phone if I did it right, and she said there was nothing wrong with what I asked.  So that's good.  

The weather report was for clear skies but a little windy (250/10 or something), and with some moderate turbulence reported below 10,000 feet. 

So when I arrive at the airport, Tanya tells me it's a bit windy, and gives me the option of cancelling the lesson if I don't feel up to it.  I'm tempted, but I don't like going so long without flying, and I've not got sick for a while, so I say lets go for it.

Out on the field, walking towards 8074T, I almost turn around and go back, it's really windy.  But I steel myself and preflight the plane.  When Tanya arrives and we get the ATIS the wind is now 250/15, gusting to 18 knots.

Now 250/15 means 15 knot winds coming from the 250 degree magnetic compass heading.  Runway 21 is oriented on the 210 heading, so that's a 40 degree side wind.  Tanya gets out a crosswind component graph, and shows me how to calculate the crosswind component, which is just the component of the crosswind perpendicular to the runway.   This is very basic trig, so you could just go  15 * sin (40) = 15 * 0.64 = 9.6.  But using the graph is a lot easier on the old brain once you get used to it.

One reason to calculate the crosswind component is to make sure it's well below the maximum crosswind component of the aircraft.  Which in this case was printed on the dashboard, and was something like 24 knots.   (1 knot = 1.15 mph).  In this case the wind itself is well below this, so the crosswind component is obviously going to be.    I'd imagine most of the time you'd just estimate, unless you were in a particularly tricky situation.

After all this build up the actual flight is relatively uneventful.  It is a bit windy taking off, and Tanya has to help me out a bit to keep the plane level, but we get up in the air no problem, and we actually never encounter any noticeable turbulence.

Then on to Point Dume, and an emergency landing procedure.  I don't do especially well at this, bringing us too close to the hills for the base leg, when I should have made the base leg over the water.  I'm also still kind a vague on maintaining the correct speed (Vglide, the best glide speed is 73 knots, you want to keep at that speed to give yourself as much time in the air as possible). 

So then we do some slow flight, power on and off stalls, which all went reasonably well, then head back, dodging a few planes on the way, Tanya talking to Socal Approach. 

I do my usual messing up on the landing.  It's pretty windy down there, so we have to crab in, which is new to me, so I don't really know what I'm doing, so I loose tack of the speed as usual.  We make it down, and round-out reasonably well to level flight just above the runway.  This actually feels quite good and I think for a fraction of a second that I'm getting the hang of it until BOING we bounce of the runway, Tanya pumps in a little power, we drift down a little more, tiny bounce and we are on the ground.  

It's too windy to be practicing pattern work for one as weak as I, so we taxi back.  I feel it was a very good flight, I enjoyed it a lot, and I feel I'm still making progress.  Apparently a lot of people hit a plateau at some point, but I guess I've not got far enough yet.  16 hours in the plane, and 18 landings so far.  Next lesson Monday at 2PM.