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Training and Safety Tip: Crosswind landings

In a crosswind landing, I prefer using the sideslip method, commonly known as the wing-low technique. I also like flying a slightly longer than normal final approach, banked into the wind with enough rudder input to keep the airplane on the extended centerline. Doing so gives me a better opportunity to “feel the wind” and to get an idea of what kind of wrestling match I will be dealing with. Keep in mind that the wind velocity and direction may vary with altitude. Use whatever rudder and aileron input you need to align the airplane with the centerline. Touch down on the upwind tire, then lower the other tire to the runway as your airspeed diminishes. Keep the aileron increasingly deflected into the wind to keep the upwind wing from rising as your rollout speed decreases. This is extremely important in high-wing airplanes.

A common error with low-time pilots is that at first they may have the correct crosswind control input to remain over the centerline until the roundout phase, but then they level the wings to land on both main tires, just like they would in calm wind conditions. Now, the airplane gets blown off the centerline—and hopefully not off the runway. Remember, during crosswind landings, land the airplane on the upwind tire, then let the downwind tire settle to the runway, followed by the nose tire.

Using partial flaps or no flaps may be advisable in strong crosswinds or gusty winds. Check your airplane’s pilot’s operating handbook or flight information manual. Your approach speed will be a few knots higher, resulting in more flight control authority. Be aware that if you run out of rudder authority, you won’t be able to remain aligned with the runway centerline.

When your destination airport has a significant surface wind forecast, have a plan for an alternate airport with a runway more closely aligned with the forecast wind and perhaps with a wider and longer runway. Always be prepared physically and mentally to reject the landing and execute a go-around for another approach or to fly to another airport. The determining factor is your comfort level, which relates to your experience and skill levels.

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