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

Reader Comments
# Kurt said:

All I have to say is, thank God you're flying a manly taildragger instead of the toddler specific tripods. :)

on October 9, 2005 07:11 PM
# Mike said:

Sweet, my posts got deleted for no reason...

on October 9, 2005 09:00 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I hit the wrong checkbox on that, sorry.

on October 9, 2005 09:10 PM
# Steve said:

toddler specific tripods...

So true. I donít have the luxury of learning to fly in a taildragger; I can only imagine a cross-wind landing in one. Makes for a better skilled pilot I'm sure.

on October 10, 2005 08:10 AM
# James said:

Hi Jeremy.

I'm glad you're getting experience with more challenging landings. If you haven't had any serious ballooning on landing, definitely have your instructor show you some of those. The plane you save could be your own.

Regarding cross-wind landings and taildraggers, my experience has been that tricycle and taildraggers land the same, it's just the cross-wind taxiing that makes taildraggers more fun. I also did my tailwheel transition in a Citabria, but in Hawaii - very windy.

I've landed with more than 20 knot cross-winds in a 152 in Florida. It felt like chattering or skating on the center line.


on October 10, 2005 05:16 PM
# Matt said:

My prefered landings are the ones with 25 knot 45 degrees cross winds, wind shears, and gusts in a narrow valley!

One of the most exciting landing I had to manage was done 5 minutes after I experienced (right over the runway at 2000 AGL) my first 0 G while flying level. My log book was "flying" in front of my eyes for 2 seconds :--) A real blast.

Ooops I forgot to say that I enjoy those in a glider but I am planning to try with an engine. I am lucky enough to have a school that owns a Citabria. So I will avoid the toddler tripods!

on October 10, 2005 07:35 PM
# Darryl Ramm said:

Haven and I were working on my glider and were watching your landing practice. The landing we watched was very impressive. The radio call oops with "hollister glider" let us know there was a glider pilot flying.... which had us thinking which of the crazy pilots we knew wanted to deliberately land in an 18 knot gusting to 24 knot crosswind.

on October 12, 2005 03:53 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

It's a good thing I couldn't remember the AWOS frequency. If I had actually heard how strong the winds were, I might have had second thoughts about trying. :-)

Ignorance is bliss sometimes.

on October 12, 2005 06:03 PM
# Brett Hinze said:

When I was doing my tailwheel with Wanda we went to Hollister and did a figure 8 pattern on both runways. Land 31 then do right traffic 24, land, then do left traffic 31, right traffic 24. It's really fun because you get a lot of landings in fast (just make sure you're not confusing anyone else!). Also it allows you to salvage your ego with a nice headwind landing on 24 after bouncing all over on the crosswind 31!
Also, something else about crosswinds: I noticed that in very strong winds you want to land powerplanes with the nose pointed into the crosswind just a little bit (unlike gliders where you want the nose dead ahead on centerline). When the plane is on the ground it has a large surface area that the wind is pushing sideways. This force has to be counteracted by the wheels being slightly angled to the direction of movement - just like the way a car turns. In fact, drive your car in very strong crosswinds and you will notice you have to hold the steering wheel into the wind.

Happy Flying!

on October 12, 2005 11:01 PM
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