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Apr 29 2011

Crosswinds!

Tonight they were really interesting. Almost direct crosswinds – 33011G18, and I was using the runway 26. Original intention was to go cross-country, but the ceilings were low, and my flight was delayed till 8 pm – so I’ve opted for the crosswind touch and go practice. Proved to be useful.

The air was predictably bumpy, with lots of short, violent lateral and vertical movements. It was difficult to turn before rising above 500-700 feet, because the plane was constantly “dancing” and a normal bank angle could be easily exceeded. Not a moment of smooth flying till the downwind, constantly working the controls.

Pronounced updraft over Gibraltar Point is common for the evening flights, and mechanical turbulence from the lakeshore towers was stronger than usually, but steady.

Yet the base was rather unpredictable – sometimes the wind was just pushing me sideways, then suddenly started tossing me around when turning final, or the plane was gulping down with engine burping right before the threshold.

Controls were sometimes hitting the stops, but that was happening normally after a successful gust counteraction – airplane by itself was staying within the safe range of movements at all times. My “gut feeling” was that C150 can handle even a bit more of direct crosswind, somewhere around 20 knots gusts, before getting marginal. Flaps off would have made it possible to handle even more than that, at a price of some long landings.

All of the touch and goes were with flaps 10 on the base, 20 on final, 70 kts on climbout and approach. Keeping the plane on the centerline and hitting the numbers was not a problem, though sometimes it required quite an aggressive wing-low with constantly adjusted bank angle, and lots of legs and aileron work when rolling.

Another impressive thing was that one of the gusts hopped me up while already on the landing roll, when the nosewheel was down. Yoke was all the way sideways, and when my plane lost the ground, for a split second it was waiving the tail (pedals movement about 30-40%, felt like 70), then settled back – aileron control was sufficient all the way through.

On a sixth touch and go climbout when I just started to feel confident and the challenge deteriorating – passenger window popped open, adding noise and a cold wind blast. Was busy, could only close it on the downwind.

Landed on the runway 33, what a bliss. Didn’t know what to do with my legs… Now thinking about it, if I’ve had a moment to stand still for a second and dig through my feelings there in the air, I would have being seriously concerned, if not scared. But I did not have time to think about non-essential, so just kept flying. Looks like emotions are only good on the ground.

And yes, I forgot to put on my Hero camera before this flight. What an asshole.


Apr 9 2011

Flying Together

Few things in this life are so beautiful as sharing the magic of flight with the one you love…