Crosswind landings done the AOPA way

April 17, 2008

Crosswind landings done the AOPA way

Read about AOPA Pilot editors’ most memorable crosswinds in their online blog (you can post comments to their entries), and consider AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg’s safety tips.

Hundreds of pilots have shared their crosswind landing techniques with AOPA during the past two weeks. So we decided to share some of the AOPA staff pilots’ techniques with you. See how our techniques compare with yours.

Carl Peterson, AOPA Air Safety Foundation aviation technical writer

Aircraft: Cessna 172s and 182s
Technique: Combination—crab to short final/runway threshold, then transition to slip.
Reason: Don’t like being cross-controlled while low and slow. Goes against my core ASF principles.

Andy Sable, AOPA Air Safety Foundation associate project manager

Aircraft: Citabria, Pitts, Piper Pawnee, King Air 300
Technique: Crab all the way to just above touchdown (maybe 20 feet above the runway), then use rudder to straighten the fuselage, lowering the wing simultaneously into the wind. I always land on one of the main gear wheels and balance in that position until speed bleeds off and all wheels settle onto the runway. Ailerons always stay turned into the wind.
Reason: I carry over my tailwheel technique to nosewheel planes, and it works just dandy.

Greg Romano, AOPA vice president of public relations

Aircraft: Piper Arrow, Cessna 182, Cessna 150
Technique: Combo.
Reason: Since I like to fly IFR, it’s easier to fly a crab down the glideslope, then kick out over the threshold and put a wing low into the wind. Crab angle gives me a good indication of how hard the crosswind is blowing. Once, flying in a Piper Arrow to a narrow strip in Central California, I was looking at the runway on final through the side window...good indication that the crosswind component exceeded the airplane’s—and my—abilities! I flew to another airport nearby with a runway more aligned with the brisk and gusty wind.

Nate Ferguson, managing editor of AOPA Online

Aircraft: Citabrias, Huskies, Bonanzas, Piper Archers, Cessna 172s, various gliders
Technique: Just fly the airplane.
Reason: I started flying gliders at an early age, so I don’t consciously think about stick-and-rudder stuff—I just do what comes naturally. Having said that, I’m really more of a slip man. The crab method requires conscious thinking about when to kick out and can get interesting at night. On calm wind days, I use the rudder (more like a slight crab) to keep the centerline locked in on final. All you need is to move the nose a degree or two instead of banking, which only leads to more control inputs and inefficient flying.

Brian Peterson, AOPA Air Safety Foundation aviation technical writer

Aircraft: Light singles
Technique: Combination. It’s generally worked well for me to fly roughly half the final approach leg crabbed into the wind before transitioning into a slip.
Reason: I find it easier to get a feel for what the wind’s doing while “crabbing”...and switching over halfway gives me plenty of time to get the slip sorted out prior to touchdown.

Claire Kultgen, AOPA Pilot Information Center specialist

Aircraft: Cessna 172s and Piper Archers
Technique: Crab until the flair and then transition to a wing-low touchdown.
Reason: I learned the slip method first, but this method just is more comfortable for me and results in better landings.

Kevin Murphy, AOPA Air Safety Foundation project manager

Aircraft: Cessna 172
Technique: Combination. Crab until over the fence, then slip.
Reason: It works. Minimizes queasy stomachs of passengers.

JJ Greenway, AOPA Air Safety Foundation chief flight instructor

Aircraft: Cessna 172, Piper J-3 Cub, and formerly Boeing 757/767
Technique: Combination. Crab down final until approximately 100 feet agl, then wing down into the wind and opposite rudder to maintain runway centerline. Touchdown on upwind wheel.
Reason: I noticed that when conducting autolands in the Boeing 757/767 that the autopilot system does exactly that. At 500 feet radio altitude, the ailerons command a slight bank into the wind. The airplane is cross-controlled until the flare, whereupon the corrections are neutralized and the airplane is landed normally.

Bob Morningstar, AOPA vice president of information technology

Aircraft: Piper Archer
Technique: Personally I slip the aircraft.
Reason: I don’t want to entrust a safe landing to a last-minute reconfiguration of the aircraft from a crab into proper nose attitude and heading. For me the slip allows me to continually refine the aircraft’s attitude down the glidepath versus a last-second hurried manipulation of the controls to get the aircraft pointed in the right direction. Besides, it’s easier on the tires (less sideloading if I screw up the crab transition)!

Vance Whitehouse, AOPA web applications developer

Aircraft: Cessna 172s and Piper Archers
Technique: Slip.
Reason: In short, it was the technique my CFIs have had me use for landing in a crosswind. I flew mostly in the mornings during my training (and still do), and there isn’t usually much wind. I would like to learn and practice the crab technique since I think it is probably more comfortable for the passengers.

John Collins, AOPA senior liaison of airports

Aircraft: Piper Archers and Cessna 172s, 182s
Technique: Combination of the slip and crab techniques
Reason: I can vary what I need to do based on what passengers I’m carrying (some don’t care for a crab or slip), my desire to do something different (slip all the way in if it’s been a while since I’ve practiced that), and what the winds are doing.

Pete Lehmann, AOPA manager of air traffic services

Aircraft: Liberty XL-2
Technique: Crab to slip technique. I simply crab the airplane until the point of flair when I simultaneously straighten the nose and put the upwind wing down to control lateral drifting. Upwind gear touches first, followed by downwind gear, and then the nose.
Reason: It’s easy to set up in a crab when you are on a 1.5-2 nm final, and once you have been doing it this way for a while, it gives you a very good gauge as to how strong the winds are. More importantly, I never nor do I ever teach my students to cross-control (slip) the airplane on final. Because the aircraft is generally in slow flight, there is an increased risk for a cross-controlled stall, which can be very startling at altitude and fatal at traffic pattern altitudes. Notwithstanding, flying an entire final leg while slipping is quite uncomfortable for both pilot and passengers.

April 17, 2008