Unicom

December 1999 Issue




Crosswind a Breeze

Nice technique tamed an imposing wind in a pussycat landing

I really enjoyed “Crossed Up” [Proficiency, October]. Almost every two weeks I fly to my favorite place in the world, Block Island, R.I. The runway at BID is 10/28 and it always seems to have a crosswind.

Last Thursday, the crosswind was 90 degrees off 28 and I decided to use the information I’d just read in the article.

I found myself starting to establish a slip to the runway, but remembered that the article said the crossed controls could lead to a potential low-altitude spin. Following your advice, I kept it in a crab until I was just in the flare, then I kicked the crab out with rudder.

I used full aileron deflection and made the smoothest landing ever, crosswind or not. The point is that, even when I’m not flying, I always try to learn something about it. Aviation Safety continues to keep my head into flying even when I’m out in the (nonflying) real world.

Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

-David Malin
Long Beach, N.Y.

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Losing Your Headwind
In “Crossed Up,” there’s one thing the author did not mention that came to me after 38 years of flying. When landing with a gusty almost 90 degree crosswind, you have more things going against you than I have seen written about.

You carry more speed than 1.3 times Vso and you have virtually no headwind component. As a result you have a greater groundspeed than you would in a smooth air, no wind landing because you are carrying extra speed to provide control authority. This means you need more runway.

If the field you are trying to get into is short, thinking about and being prepared to divert to an alternate airport becomes a good idea.

We have a 1,900-foot “long” runway near where I fly and I use it for short field training. But with an 80- to 90-degree crosswind – even without gusts – on the downhill runway, I go elsewhere if I am not on the ground in the first third of the runway.

-Herbert A. Rosenthal
Bethesda, Md.


Many pilots fail at precisely what you’re doing – keeping specific criteria in mind that will trigger a go around. That’s the kind of thinking that keeps airplane parts out of the dirt.

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Cheesecloth on Final
During the past four years, I have made the flight between Morristown, N.J., and Nantucket Island nearly 100 times. Morristown is seven miles south of Caldwell, where JFK, Jr. took off, and Nantucket is 20 miles east of Martha’s Vineyard, the site of the tragic accident.

Pilots familiar with the Cape and islands know well the effect of the late afternoon/early evening summer haze endemic to that area. This condition, I expect, is not understood or respected by many overland pilots.

It is not uncommon during final to feel that someone has laid cheesecloth over the glareshield while the ATIS is reporting visibility of 20 miles with clear skies. For that reason, I almost always file IFR when making that flight during the summer months.

In short, regardless of the weather briefing, I strongly urge any pilot intending a flight to an island destination at the end of a warm, summer day to anticipate limited visibility, to give the most serious consideration to the weather phenomena known as HZ (haze) and BR (mist), and to provide for an overland alternate destination in every instance.

-Fred Slater
Via e-mail


We do quite a bit of coastal hot-weather flying as well and routinely file IFR, even logging instrument approaches in what is supposedly VFR weather.

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Excessive Moderation?
Your article “Attitude Adjustments” [Editor’s Log, October] hit the message square in the middle. Its content is applicable to all areas of daily life. Moderation is the middle ground, beware the extreme. Perhaps this is why we always seem to have a liberal Republican or a conservative Democrat as our national leader. Good read.

-K. Jones
Via e-mail


See how flying relates to politics? There are certainly many instances where one has to stand firm against the middle ground, but flying is one situation in which knowing your enemy can make him your friend.

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A Tenth Commandment
Milovan Brenlove’s article, “The Nine Commandments” [Instrument Check, October], was well written and quite thorough. As an Air Force T-38 instructor pilot, as well as a long-time CFI and aircraft owner, I’ve preached all of Brenlove’s commandments at various times to civilian and military students (in varying forms and with varying success).

To make an even Ten Commandments, I offer one additional commandment that ties together most of the other nine: “Be politely assertive.” After you’ve distinguished your needs from your wants, communicate your request clearly and effectively to ATC. Then give the controller a chance to work your request. There are times when your desires just can’t be accommodated.

But there are other times when you need to be assertive with ATC – polite and friendly, always – but insistent when the stakes are high. Apply the standard of reasonableness to your request vs. ATC instructions to determine if you should press harder for what you want. Don’t let the “system” jerk you around needlessly, don’t accept bad service for no good reason, and don’t just roll over and play dead when you know you’re being taken unfair advantage of.

Milovan Brenlove’s observation that air traffic controllers “aren’t in the cockpit, they don’t always know the entire situation, and most are not pilots” is certainly borne out every time I fly in the system. The issue is not about controller ineptitude or lack of consideration. When you pay your nickel, you have just as much right to expect good service as the big guys. Insist on it and don’t accept anything less.

-Gary Peppers
Via e-mail


As a former controller, Brenlove knows something of their mindset. We encourage all pilots to go to the tower, take a tour and hang out for a while. You’ll definitely learn something. And while you’re there, invite a controller to go flying.

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Which Way to Ditch
As a recent subscriber to Aviation Safety and an 85-hour private pilot, I have found it to be very informative and written objectively, so thanks for that.

I found a lot of useful information in “The Myths of Ditching” [Airmanship, October] and then much to my dismay could find no summary on how one is to go about ditching an aircraft. Is the procedure that obvious that a small summary on the procedure couldn’t have been included? Just wondering.

-Timothy Bayer
Via e-mail


The AIM has a fairly comprehensive section on ditching procedures and most student texts contain some rudimentary suggestions. Our analysis found that the survival rates were so good – especially considering it’s a maneuver you can’t really practice – that specific technique probably doesn’t matter much. Think of it as any off-airport landing. Put it down as softly and in as smooth a place as you can find. For more on the subject, turn your web browser to www.equipped.com.