Question about experience with xwind landing

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by LongRoadBob, Dec 7, 2018 at 6:20 AM.

  1. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    Originally was in another thread but it was in a subforum without a lot of response.
    I know there are threads about crosswind, all over the place, but I have some specific questions that usually don't get covered I think.

    Mainly about characteristics of crosswind. IF there is a way to tell if there is a chance they are only temporary, or certain times of day.

    As a student, I'm more than a little fascinated with this topic. Excuse my ignorance, but checking the main idea, the point of go-around instead of abandon landing and go to a different airport is that with gusts you can do a go-around and next time around might be less gusty?

    I know weather/winds are not "stable" and there can be no hard and fast rules, but in general...does it often happen that gusty weather settles down after a reasonable time period? I get the feeling gusty weather doesn't last a long time in general. But it can settle a little, then hit again without warning big time, settle again.

    Does it ever make sense to wait it out, just forget about landing but if enough fuel that it isn't a problem fly around for a half hour and then try agian?

    Has anyone here had muliple go arounds, then finally to catch it at the right time, and favorable for landing?

    What other weather signs can help you determine (if any) if this is going to just be a gusty day, or if it will blow itself out and get calm? Does it generally get worse towards sundown?

    Trying to just gain some insight from all the experience here, tips, concepts that can help one in a situation like this.

    Also, bgmac, very glad you managed that landing so well and all were ok!
     
  2. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Although gusts (like nearly all weather) can be temporary, I think the main point of the go-around is just to set yourself up again, maybe this time be better prepared for a gust, and give it another try. I suppose you could hope to be "in between the gusts" but probably not likely. My worst gusts war story, I was flying a Piper Tomahawk, and there was a nearly 90 degree gusty crosswind of like 15g30. It took me three tries to get down, as I was getting tossed around so much I wasn't staying over the runway on the first two. I suppose if the third one hadn't worked, and I had to keep trying, I'd probably call it quits after a couple more, and find a nearby field with a runway more aligned with the wind to "wait it out" as you mentioned....As far as how long to wait? Who knows.
     
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  3. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    I have had multiple go-arounds at one particular smallish airport on two occasions. Both due to my crappy piloting but decent ADM. One was in a 172 right after I started flying again after 34 years off and the other was in a taildragger Luscombe, actually just one go-around there, IIRC. Nothing particularly xwind on those but if you go-around for xwind I would imagine that gusts could play a part or things did not work out on that attempt the way you would have liked. No biggie.
     
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  4. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    I'm interested in responses like these (thanks!)

    but also...

    Anyones' ideas about gusts/weather and telltales that can give one a clue if the gusts are likely to be short lived, or here for the day :)
    I don't know if there are any, and understand that even if there were indications, they wouldn't be necessarily to put all trust in. But just as one with experience learns to anticipate likely movements or fronts, if there are certain things one could look for.

    Is it also a "thing" to test for rudder authority/control in winds while aloft, while thinking the winds will actually be slightly less at ground level? Are gusts generally stronger higher, or on the ground?
     
  5. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Winds are caused by heat exchange right? As the day gets hotter so will the winds increase. Early am and evening will have lighter winds assuming a front isn’t passing through.
     
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  6. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    Wind velocity and direction will change not only due to the ground friction effect but more, IMO, due to channelling and blocking from surface obstructions in a tight environment. You can see what you are getting on short final but, to me, the decision is made during and after the round-out.
     
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  7. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well the obvious answer is looking at what your weather briefing says. Whats the TAF say?

    Beyond that, I think you're over thinking this a bit. Gusts can be a factor when they're extreme (as in the 15G30 case above). But for the most part its been my experience that gusts aren't something I ever had to give much thought to beyond using less flaps and carrying a bit more speed on the landing if things are gusty. Yeah, if you've had several go arounds and still haven't gotten it down, it might be time to find a different runway and wait the weather out a bit.

    Sometimes it can also be a matter of looking more closely at the runway you're trying to land on. Is there anything that could be causing mechanical turbulence right before or at your touchdown zone? A building or a clump of trees right next to runway on the upwind side can add an extra level of instability right when you're slowing down for the touchdown. If you have trees or buildings near the end of the runway, but its more wide open further down the runway, you might do better to move your touchdown point further down the runway and stay where the air is more stable, assuming of course the runway is long enough to allow landing long safely.

    In the end I think you'll find it really just comes down to hours in the seat. Keep at it and you'll eventually get to the point where you'll realize the conditions you just landed in used to make you anxious and now you land in them without giving it 2nd thought.
     
  8. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    I do check weather briefings TAF, etc. but currently am in a smaller airport, untowered, and no TAF info. The normal checks I have been taught so far is checking the TAFS at the closest airports that have them. The weather is usually close, but the winds can vary a lot from the nearest airport to mine.

    But I understand that, and yes, I do tend to overthink, but it is really just trying to get the mindset that normally comes with experience, minus the terror filled moments if possible. I'm an experience cheater.

    But seriously, what you wrote here is a huge help. It may be you guys that have been doing this forgot how it was a little as a student, but I work on my homework, learn, but one huge help is to hear you guys when you talk about your thought process, decision making and how you go about that.

    These are some great tips (yours and others already posted) like looking closer at the lay of the land, or that maybe if it toward sunset, and very gusty and one has enough fuel, might be an idea to try and wait a little, make sure enough fuel to go to an alternate, but see if it lets up. Things like that. I know there can't be hard and fast rules, as weather doesn't work that way. But this helps a lot. and Thanks.
     
  9. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    Technique I was playing around with in a taildragger on a wide grass field with a strong direct xwind: Approach 45 degrees to the runway with a quartering tailwind, land in the turn and end up stopped and facing a quartering headwind.
     
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  10. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    ^^^This^^^

    Fly when it's "slightly uncomfortable" for you...

    As a new pilot, I would cancel flights if there was any crosswind component over 10 knots, but then I got tired of cancelling flights, so I started practicing those crosswinds. Now, I don't even really notice them until the wind gets extreme.
     
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  11. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    Bob, it doesn't matter, it is what it is. Get the weather, calculate the crosswind, or if no weather, find the wind sock while in the pattern. I'm generally not concerned about the angle if it's below 30 degrees unless the wind is really howling, maybe over 20 knots. At 30 degrees to the runway the x wind is 0.5 of the total wind. In other words if 20 knots, the x wind is 10. At 45 degrees the x wind is 0.7 of the total wind, or about 14 knots at 20 total wind and 60 degrees is about 0.9 or 18 knots for a 20 knot wind, so as far as I'm concerned any wind approaching 60 degrees or higher X wind is pretty much a direct crosswind, you don't need to be splitting hairs here, just get an idea what's going on, have an idea what your personal x wind max is and if the wind is there use another runway or airport.

    I like to crab to stay aligned on final, it's been pretty windy around here in the past month or two so sometimes there is a pretty impressive crab angle 500 feet above the runway. As you get lower the wind usually slackens so the compensation is always changing, just stay aligned. At about 30 to 50 feet I switch from a crab to a slip. I like to do this to make sure I have enough authority to land aligned with the runway. Just keep that slip in, adjusting as necessary (you might need more as you slow in the flare) until you land. If you start moving sideways add more aileron and rudder. If you can't stop the sideways motion go around. I had a landing a few months ago where I let up on the x wind correction and the plane started moving sideways when I touched down, not a fun feeling, the plane jerked to straight down the runway, it was a slight sideways motion, I never want to experience a faster sideways motion ( I was with an instructor and got duly admonished). About a week ago I was landing 18 g 28 about 30 degrees to the runway. During the flare the plane started going sideways, I added more aileron and opposite rudder, landed on one wheel, it was one of my better landings. I was ready to cram that throttle for the go around though.

    Just study how to do x wind landings and practice with your instructor, it becomes fun after a while but never be afraid to go around.


    As far as your other question, if there is not another runway I would give it 2 tries unless it's obviously futile, then I would give up and probably go to another airport.
     
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  12. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Consider these two pics.
    [​IMG]
    Here we've got a single runway airport. You've got civilization on one side and open water and marsh land on the other side. If the wind is coming from the Northwest, its gong to coming across that bay and should be fairly stable right down to the surface because the terrain is wide open on that side of the runway. But lets look a bit closer.

    [​IMG]
    Its tough to see from this angle but if you look to the left of runway you see a handful of trees there. Those trees are probably 60ft tall. So if the wind is going to move across that bay right down on the deck. When it hits those trees, its going to go up and over them and then it will want to drop back down on the other side. Which is right where you're going to be coming low and slow when you're trying to touch down. So you'll fly the whole approach keeping it nice and steady as you can and then right as you come over the numbers, whamo and the plane will be going anywhere except where you want it to go. Move your touchdown point a little further down beyond those trees, and the problem goes away.
     
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  13. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Depends on what’s causing the gusts. Post-frontal days there is just a basic mixmaster of strong winds, mechanical turbulence and instability. On days with really unstable air, you get gusts caused by thermals. These can be quite strong depending on the day and geography. Dry, desert areas with lots of heating can see very strong gusts.

    Look for direction changes during the gusts. If it’s changing a lot, it’s more likely thermic. Not much change in direction, the it’s more frontal. With the first, a go-around will likely be very different on the second try. With the latter, might be better to find a different runway or airport.
     
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  14. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    Wow...thanks all, this is gold for me. Literally all posts had something I can use. Thanks!
    ...and as always, keep 'em coming!
     
  15. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    The gust factor isn’t as big a problem as mechanical turbulence. When the wind is disturbed by mountains, buildings, trees, etc you can’t predict how it will impact the airplane. Any wind is exciting when you have obstructions upwind but add a gust factor and the excitement level goes up. The same effect is more scary on departure because you aren’t in as good a position to control the plane. A pilot who’s unfamiliar with a difficult LZ will fly it more conservatively than a pilot who flies that strip every day in different conditions. Experience isn’t taught in books. Or on the internet. ;)
     
  16. drjcustis

    drjcustis Pre-Flight

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    Learn to land a canopy after skydiving. Crossing, mechanical turbulence, flair, it all makes a lot more sense.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  17. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Some of this will be repetitious.

    Most gusts are associated with a weather system, so a briefing should give you a decent idea what's happening and how long it will last.

    More generally, Experience. I'm not talking about flying experience as much as experience paying attention to the weather in an area. For example, at my old home base in Colorado, the winds generally started out light from the southeast in the morning, moving clockwise through the day and increasing in intensity in the afternoon. CFIs would schedule flights for newer students in the morning and advanced students in the late afternoon when it was a gusty crosswind.

    No. The point of a go-around is a decision that things are not looking right for whatever reason. Crosswinds might be one but are far the only one.

    It might take more than a few minutes, especially if the gusts are associated (as the often are) with a weather system. You might be better off diverting to an airport with better wind conditions, even if it avoiding a gusting crosswind, have a snack and wait it out there. BTDT

    Sure.
     
  18. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas En-Route

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    [​IMG]

    In open, flatter country where there isn't significant terrain to upset wind directions, the winds aloft can be from significantly different directions than on the ground. There can be a difference of as much as 30 degrees. The circulation around a high- or low-pressure area follows the isobars when aloft, but moves outward around a high or inward around a low when the surface friction slows the wind enough that the pressure gradient starts overcoming Coriolis Force.

    So on approach, whether in a high or low, you will normally find the wind weakening and coming more from the left as you descend. If aloft you find a strong crosswind from the right, it won't likely be as bad on the ground. If it's from the left, it will get more from the left, but weaker.

    Earlier in the day, before the nocturnal inversion has disappeared, you can often find strong winds a couple hundred feet above the ground and nothing at all on the runway. Lots of wind shear there. Watch out.
     
  19. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    No. I did night currency a few years back and was *supposed* to be winds calm all night by DUATS and FSS call. flew to the nearby Class C, and things got interesting after the 3rd stop-n-go. At home drome winds were 25G33 90* to the runway. On approach I lost 100 feet in windshear on short final in nothing flat. Updated Super-AWOS 2 seconds after reported winds 44G55. Flew to the next town 15 min away and landed in calm wind and spent the night.

    Yes, did two recently at KEDC (Austin Exec) and landed on the third approach. Ran out of rudder on the first two attempts, but could've landed angling across the runway. Didn't as I was bringing home a new to me airplane, and was fully prepared to go to Taylor or the main airport if the 3rd try didn't work .... College Station was final multi-runway option if things got REAL ugly (still had 2 hours of fuel).
     
  20. Hippike

    Hippike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Here's a little exercise for you ;)

    Do you know this site?
    https://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/request/download.phtml

    You can select Norway and from the stations list, select your (or nearest to you) airport and pick a time frame (you can select the entire year or just a few days/weeks at a time) and you'll get all the metar info in a new window of your browser.

    If you are using Firefox, click ctrl+F that will open up the finder bar at the bottom of the page. Enter the letter G. Click "highlight all" and look at the page. You should see something like this:

    Metar.JPG

    Of course if your station name has the letter g in it, it sucks:( or if your local area gets a lot of fog (FG on the metar) will also be highlighted and the exercise doesn't work.

    Anyway, the reason I am showing this is simple.
    This will give you (if it works) a general sense of gust at the local airport.
    For this exercise I selected one of the airports I use. I only selected November 1 thru today.
    By using the "find" and "highlight all" feature of Firefox I can see clearly that there were only 1 (maybe 2) day in the two months period when there was any gust factor, and those were only limited to around lunch time and lasted for about an hour. By looking at my station and highlighting the gust factor on the page confirms my experience with this airport, which is: there is hardly any gust at this airport and if there is, it is usually mid day and doesn't last long.

    Again, this is California and we have a pretty steady good wx here, but this gives me an idea of what to expect, especially if I am going to an airport where I've never been to, checking the historical metar for the past few days/weeks/month (or even the same time last year info) will give me a general idea of what to expect in terms of winds/gusts.
     
  21. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Buzz, wrong answer.