As it goes in flight training you have to go with what the weather gives you. We had a really tough spring with lots of rain, wind, and low ceilings and now that fall is here the winds have returned. In the morning it was low ceilings and what the FAA calls mountain obscuration aka clouds covering the tops of the Catoctin Mountains. After two hours of oral exam preparation with the chief flight instructor, we finished up and checked the weather. By then the winds had picked up and going out trying to practice all the required maneuvers wouldn’t serve much purpose while getting blown around. You have to perform each of the required maneuvers within fairly tight tolerances and on a day like this, even good pilots do good just staying safe and refining their skills where it counts the most.
So we finished oral prep with topics covering night flying, aeromedical factors, aircraft systems, aeronautical decision making and risk management. Then after discussing the wind we decided that I was capable of pushing myself to gain confidence in crosswind landings. Not that one should plan on pushing the limits, but there may come a day when despite your best planning efforts you return from a day of flying to find the winds have picked up more than expected and you have to put it on the ground safely. Up circling the pattern I was crabbing like no ones business! You angle into the wind, aka crab, so you are sort of flying sideways as gusts would pop up us 100 feet before dropping us 75!!!! FREE FUN!!!
On final I was working the rudder, ailerons, and elevator constantly while varying the power to compensate for the variable gusting wind. The demonstrated crosswind component for the Cessna 172 is 15 kts. The weather METAR was reporting winds coming from 290 degrees 14G18kts. Crosswinds were 9-11 kts on runway 34 and based on today’s experience, it was all of that if not a little more.