On Friday Dave and I took N5032G down to Hollister for my first chance to practice crosswind landings. During the mid to late afternoon most days, the sea breeze begins to push inland from Monterey Bay. When that happens, the preferred runway at Hollister switches from 31 to 24.
It's common to have a 10 to 15 knot crosswind on runway 31 that's almost perpendicular to the runway, and that's exactly what we encountered. And adding insult to injury, the sea breeze is blowing over the Flint Hills which causes a nice dose of turbulence below 1,500 feet.
My first two attempts and landing both required Dave to get on the controls and help. I found it hard to get everything in place before we'd drift away from the runway. This is understandable, since I'd never flown or landed the Citabria in a side slip before. Plus, we found that the windsock appeared to be torn. That meant you got the impression that the wind was blowing slower that it really was. Of course, down low it became pretty obvious.
My third landing was reasonably successful. Instead of doing what I tried the last two times, I flew a bit higher in the pattern and gave myself more altitude (and therefore time) on final to get setup in a stable slip with the right ground track. Once I had that figured out, I could focus on holding that configuration as we descended and into the flare. The result is that I finally didn't feel like I was fighting the plane for the last 100 feet of the flight.
Next week we have two more lessons scheduled, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning lesson will probably focus on landings at Reid Hillview so that I can get used to the pattern there and dealing with the control tower telling me what to do all the time. The afternoon lesson will be another trip to Hollister to get more crosswind practice.
Posted by jzawodn at October 09, 2005 06:47 PM