Sunday, February 1, 2009

And then there was x-wind

The weather forecast for the 6 hr period that had my two hour booking showed 25015G25, so I drove to the airport knowing it would be windy. The wind was also from that strange direction that had been persistent all winter, 240 to 260. I drove in thinking that while the prevailing winds usually favored Rwy 33 at Buttonville, my four previous flights were on Rwy's 21, 03, 15 and 21 again, and based on the forecast and METARs, it would appeared 21 would be in use again.

As I was getting closer to the airport, i saw planes take off from 33 for a circuit. The ATIS confirmed that Rwy 33 was indeed in use despite the winds coming from 240 to 270 and wind strength of 10 to 15 kts with gusts up to 25. The combination of Rwy in use and the actual winds made me very uncomfortable.

As I was standing in front of the counter, one of the guys at dispatch desk asked me if i was comfortable going out in that wind and on that Rwy. I had to admit to myself that if i was quesitoning my abilities, I was not comfortable, so I asked if there was an instructor available to fly couple circuits with me to make sure i got it. There was.

He actually made me do weights and balances, detailed documents check, etc. which was a good review to make sure i had not forgotten anything and then we went out to the airplane. The winds kept changing so much that Tower was adding wind speed and direction with every instruction including taxi! Even ATIS had note of turbulence on approach, but that was nothing compared to turbulence on take off. Felt like we hid a brick wall.

I flew the first circuit (had to crab hugely on downwind) and had an OK landing. We then reviewed what i could do better and kept flying. The wind shifted from 270 to 260 and finally to 240, which made it almost 90 degree x-wind, and Tower offered us Rwy 21, but i said we'd stick with 33 since i wanted to practice as much as i could with the instructor on board. My 3rd landing, we did not notice when the wheel touched - it was amazing. By then, the instructor told me about 6 months review that Buttonville had implemented to allow their renters to fly with an instructor for an hour for free - so we turned this into a 6 months review and kept flying. When we were done, i was smiling ear to ear and i had my landing confidence fully back.

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