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Alec

Your preferred method of cross-wind landing on a GA

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So guys! I've reached my 100th flight hour in my Commercial Pilot training. It's going OK, lots of cross country flights, I'm alternating between a Cessna and a Low Wing aircraft, and that certainly makes things interesting, as they require different techniques, specially during landing.

 

There's one thing that I can't say I have become entirely proficient yet when flying a small aircraft, and that is Cross-Wind Landings. As soon as I have to deal with one of those, things doesn't go smooth. My airfield doesn't experience much of that during the year, so the winds are mostly aligned with the runway. I have dealt with this situation maybe 10 times, maybe less, but I didn't get much training under this condition, and the two times I had a strong 90 degrees crosswind 15 to 18 knots, the instructor did the landing. It was a long time ago though.

 

My main issue is with the two different techniques of doing these landings, the Crab and the Wing-Low. I have read several pilots opinion about which they prefer, but it seems there's no definitive one, each has it's cons and pros.

 

Right from the start my head didn't like the idea of the crab, because my understanding of physics didn't allow me to think it's OK to land with a crab angle, and removing it during the flare would make the plane go to the side. Sure, you have to remove it right before the wheels make contact, but I find I'm not good enough of judging this exact moment right before touchdown, and what will happen is either being too early, or too late. Neither of those are nice. Another thing I don't like is this abrupt Rudder Command on the last second going against your objective of a smooth and stable approach.

 

The idea of Wing-Low is easier in my head, because it's predictable during the whole approach, you don't need to make big surface changes, just maintain your alignment using aileron and rudder until touchdown. So, why am I asking your opinions instead of using this technique? Because I fly a Low Wing Airplane. And according to many people, including some of my instructors, you don't use this with low wing configuration.

 

Could you guys help me in this question that has been for so long in my head? I ask you that only people with real flight experience make their considerations, because real flying in this conditions is a total different beast than what our simulators represents, so only those doing it in real life will be able to tell for sure what works and what not.

 

I thank you very much for your time! I write this because I want to become a better pilot, and I believe this community has many users with a lot of experience that can help!

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Crab all the way to the flare then gently apply rudder to straighten it out while slightly banking it into the wind is what I do no matter what plane I fly. I've never heard any instructors endorse the low-wing technique for any plane to be honest. Ok, not all landings are gonna be perfectly on the centerline but as long as you're properly aligned (aim slightly upwind from the centerline) before the flare you're not gonna be miles off either.

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Thanks for the input. That's mostly what they do where I fly. I like the idea of banking the wing into the wind as you remove the crab angle. But they really don't like when I don't land on the centerline, so it must be well executed.

 

The Low Wing technique is from the Conventional gear airplane School of Learning to fly, those airplanes can't land with a crab angle, since their CG is behing the wheels. I guess with Tricicle planes, keeping the wing low throughout the approach is a thing of the past. Maybe I just need to practice it more to get it right.

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First, congrats on your progress so far.  It's too bad you don't have more opportunities to practice - once you get over the initial discomfort, xwind landings are kinda fun!  If you lived where I do, you'd have no problem finding airports and landing conditions to practice in, I guarantee.

 

I'm surprised you find the "wing low" (slipping) a more stable method, high wing or low.  In practice, I've never found it so, especially if the wind is gusting.  Cross-controlling in dicey conditions at low altitude just never seemed easier (or safer) to me.

 

When I was actively flying, I practiced with both (see above - where I live I had ample opportunity!), but vastly preferred flying "crabbed" for a more stable approach.  It also gave me a very visual indication of just how strong the xwind really was.  The transition in the roundout and flare takes a bit of practice, but really isn't that hard to master - you just have to find conditions to practice it a bit and have confidence.

 

Best of luck going forward,

 

Scott

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I've never heard any instructors endorse the low-wing technique for any plane to be honest
 
Hey Rolf,
 
Bill Kershner wrote about it decades ago.  Btw, I think he worked with Patty Wagstaff some years ago (you've been flying "her" Extra the past few days) helping her with her Aerobatic stuff.
 
I've taught it.  Alex is a good example... it's easier usually for a person to get that down first, then transistion to the crab / slip.
 
It's a debate too... kind of like the "tastes great" or "less filling".
 
 

Sure, you have to remove it right before the wheels make contact, but I find I'm not good enough of judging this exact moment right before touchdown, and what will happen is either being too early, or too late.
 
Hmmm... sounds a lot like learning when to flare. 
 
Get into the roundout... and start the transition.  Just like learning when to flare... time and experience will see you thru.
 
 

I guess with Tricicle planes, keeping the wing low throughout the approach is a thing of the past.
 
No... it is not.  
 
This comes down to you and what your preference is for the plane you are flying.
 
You can also try crabbing until short final (instead of during the flare) to give yourself just enough time to get the transition to a slip established (just time enough to get it figured out what you need).
 
 

Maybe I just need to practice it more to get it right.
 
:good:

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I have learned both types of landings. The Crab in your mind is the hardest. It makes you uneasy. It is just a little balance act of keeping inline with your runway. The more rudder you apply makes you create alot more drag. Just remember this when you apply rudder. You maintain a view of the runway to stay on your path. Just be aware of you situation and stay ahead of the aircraft. Don't forget to fly. You never ever stop flying the airplane. About 10 to 5 above AGL straighten her out and allow the plane to settle. This is basically mind over mater. Don't let it get in your head. Fly the airplane and practice. Each situation will present a new challenge. When you land you will have a sense of accomplishment. Good luck and remember to just fly the craft to the ground. Cpt. Out.

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Hey Rolf,

 

Bill Kershner wrote about it decades ago.  Btw, I think he worked with Patty Wagstaff some years ago (you've been flying "her" Extra the past few days) helping her with her Aerobatic stuff.

 

I've taught it.  Alex is a good example... it's easier usually for a person to get that down first, then transistion to the crab / slip.

 

It's a debate too... kind of like the "tastes great" or "less filling".

Well, none of the instructors I've met or flown with at least. My PPL instructor started teaching me the crab method from the beginning and no-one I've flown with since has argued about it.

 

But yeah, this is yet another one of those issues that pilots are never gonna agree on. :)

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I was taught to crab and kick out in conventional gear. less risk of striking a wing and you can handle more crosswind if you have the necessary and current skills in the right aircraft.

 

There are no other airports nearby with multiple runways that can be used for this sort of practice?

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Thank you all for the input. It seems the Crab method is the winner between you guys. Since most of my instructors also use this method, I've been thinking more of this instead of the Wing - Low when dealing with a crosswind.

 

Yeah, I always fly the plane, doing whatever I have to in order to get it back on the ground as safe and smooth as possible. Maybe I would know how to deal with a strong crosswing, it just hasn't happened yet for me to know. But I like to be able to know my capabilities and limitations, unfortunately when dealing with X-Wind, this is a guess since I haven't dealt much with it. It will probably happen, I've been lucky so far to schedule flights on nice clear days with smooth atmosphere, but soon I will fly with some rought weather, and I will be glad to experiment some gusty crosswind to get the feeling of the proper technique.

 

This topic was more to hear which method you guys prefer, and that has become pretty clear so far. The technique involved to do it correctly I know, read about it a lot, it's just practice that is lacking.

 

Thank you again

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So, in the opinion of this fellow, who must be very experience, or he wouldn't be giving advices on a Tip of the Week Article, the best is the combination of both techniques. Well, I like this idea as well, best of both worlds. Easy to keep the runway axis on final, and easy on the gear when you land aligned with the longitudinal axis of the runway. The issue of possible contact of the wing with the runway however isn't mentioned there, and the photo on the article is of a high wing airplane.

 

I wonder how much bank would be necessary for a low wing aircraft to make contact of the wing tip to the ground, maybe it's more than the necessary in order to keep alignment below the maximum certified crosswind component?

 

BTW : Thx for the link

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So, in the opinion of this fellow, who must be very experience, or he wouldn't be giving advices on a Tip of the Week Article, the best is the combination of both techniques. Well, I like this idea as well, best of both worlds. Easy to keep the runway axis on final, and easy on the gear when you land aligned with the longitudinal axis of the runway. The issue of possible contact of the wing with the runway however isn't mentioned there, and the photo on the article is of a high wing airplane.

 

I think what he described as a combination of the two techniques is really exactly what you should do when using the crab technique. If you were to actually land the plane still crabbed into the wind your instructor would not be happy (and neither will future passengers). What you should do (in my opinion at least) is apply (not "kick out", be smooth) rudder to straighten it out as you enter ground effect while giving it some opposite aileron. Pull the stick back as hard as you can and work the pedals to keep it straight until you feel your spine crack.

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What I read from the FAA manuals is kicking the rudder, but not giving any aileron input to lower the wing into the wind, only to mantain it level. Lowering the wing would make the same risk of wing tip contacting the surface become real. I like this technique, but as I said before, I wonder if a 18knots crosswind would make the wing tip dangerously close to the surface if I were to maintain the runway alignment using this technique.

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What I read from the FAA manuals is kicking the rudder, but not giving any aileron input to lower the wing into the wind, only to mantain it level.

Sounds about right although the word "kicking" is probably not to be taken too literally. Also the upwind wheel should touch the ground 0.037th of a second before the other.

 

Lowering the wing would make the same risk of wing tip contacting the surface become real. I like this technique, but as I said before, I wonder if a 18knots crosswind would make the wing tip dangerously close to the surface if I were to maintain the runway alignment using this technique.

You're worrying too much. It'll be fine. ;-)

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What I read from the FAA manuals is kicking the rudder, but not giving any aileron input to lower the wing into the wind, only to mantain it level.

 

Can you show me where you saw this Alex?

 

 

Lowering the wing would make the same risk of wing tip contacting the surface become real.

 

I sincerely doubt this for a GA trainer... certainly never an issue when I was in the PA-28s

 

 

I wonder if a 18knots crosswind would make the wing tip dangerously close to the surface if I were to maintain the runway alignment using this technique.

 

My concern would be running out of rudder first.  It is a weird feeling hitting the rudder stop and seeing you are still not aligned with the centerline.

 

 

Edit:

 

I decided to google this and found an article I liked on the subject... http://www.mountainflying.com/Pages/articles/crosswind_lndg.html

 

Check that out Alex and see what you think.  I like the description and his recommendation for flaps use.  I was in a straight-tail Arrow one particularly gusty night (25G40) but winds were in close alignment with the runway.  I used just 25° flaps and carried quite a bit of airspeed to the runway, raising flaps as soon as the mains were on the ground.

 

Btw... that became an AOPA "Never Again" moment for me... even tho we were getting just moderate chop enroute, the ground (terrain, trees, buildings etc) made for some very turbulent conditions close to the ground... think of "water down the rapids".  This (trying to picture what the wind is doing) is a very important part of the landing process when the winds start to pick up.

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FAA Airplane Flying Handbook

 

"If the crab method of drift correction has been used
throughout the final approach and roundout, the crab
must be removed the instant before touchdown by
applying rudder to align the airplane’s longitudinal
axis with its direction of movement. This requires
timely and accurate action. Failure to accomplish this
will result in severe side loads being imposed on the
landing gear."

 

They don't mention lowering the wing with this technique, and it's pretty clear since they talk that failure to remove the crab angle would impose severe side load.

 

So, when you all talk about using the Crab Technique, you will lower the wing into the wing a moment before touchdown?

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So, when you all talk about using the Crab Technique, you will lower the wing into the wing a moment before touchdown?

 

I cannot ever remember just kicking rudder... 

 

Whenever I used rudder to straighten the nose,  ailerons were going into the wind... and fully deflected (into the wind) after landing.

 

I've seen youtubes of Heavies doing this (rudder kick before touchdown)... what is not clear to me is how much aileron they use.

 

(thanks btw for the AFH quote)

 

 

Edit:

 

That tip was good David.  (just read it)

 

"the longitudinal axis of the aircraft be aligned with the centerline of the runway - this can only be accomplish using a side slip."

 

There you go... I can't see how one could hope to touch down the moment after kicking rudder for alignment. 

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Yeah, that's what has always made my head refuse the idea of Crab during CrossWind! The moment for the touchdown after removing the crab has to be so precise in order to avoid side loading that makes this idea crazy to me. I like giving some wing the moment before touchdown, that I can accept with no problem!

 

This thread has been amazing for making clear this confusion I had in my head.

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This thread has been amazing for making clear this confusion I had in my head.

 

Excellent! Yes... we have had some very good input here ("iron sharpening iron" I like to say as we all benefit).

 

One other point... 

 

Not sure you will see an icy runway in your "neck of the woods"... as a "fwiw" side loading isn't the only concern.  On ice / snow (wet runway?) the correction is crucial for maintaining directional control.

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Yeah, that's what has always made my head refuse the idea of Crab during CrossWind! The moment for the touchdown after removing the crab has to be so precise in order to avoid side loading that makes this idea crazy to me. I like giving some wing the moment before touchdown, that I can accept with no problem!

 

This thread has been amazing for making clear this confusion I had in my head.

 

 

Remember to keep your ailerons turned into the wind on rollout or your plane could roll off the runway.  Your not done after your aircraft's wheels hit/touch the ground you have to factor the wind on rollout and taxing back to the terminal.  Look for the wind sock for reference.

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The crab and kick method is a crab until just before the flare and then kicking into a slip. You will need aileron input to keep yourself in the center on the runway.

 

Rudder keeps your nose pointed straight down the runway. The aileron is used to keep the plane over the centerline.

 

By the way, I'm not very good at this either and need some practice. I'd like to get my TW endorsement because I've heard this helps with handling crosswinds in a tricycle gear aircraft like my R172K. I usually slip from a lot further back on final than the flare. I may crab down to the runway approach lights, then start my slip.

 

One benefit of the slip early on is that (if you weren't aware of it, though you should have been) you will be able to quickly determine whether the crosswind exceeds your rudder input.

 

There isn't a right or wrong answer, but airlines typically do crab and kick because passengers don't like the feeling during a pronounced slip in high winds. So they enter the slip during the flare.

 

So as I'm entering the slip, I'm pushing down on the rudder pedal away from the wind to bring my nose around and keep it pointed down the runway. Then I'm using ailerons, upwind wing low, cross controlled, to stay centered on the runway. It's that cross controlled, near-stall configuration that requires some extra airspeed to avoid the stall.

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