How to deal if crosswinds kick up ?

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If you're a student pilot or new licensed lowtime Prvt pilot and
took off on nice day from Hanscom and winds/crosswinds were fine -
But during your 1 hour or more flight (maybe doing a 50-100 mile
xctry flight) the crosswinds have changed alot back at Hanscom or
maybe at the destination (faraway) uncontrolled airport -

How are you going to land safely or "legally" ?
Is there a so-called "legal" rule for how much winds/crosswinds can
be ?

Is Hanscom easier (lesser crosswind) actually vs an uncontrolled
field like Nashua since BED has multiple runways and there is ATC
monitoring/controlling things ?

At a uncontrolled field - can you ask Unicom freq for some asst by
asking for "wind advisories" ?
What if noone answers ?
What if can not see or find a windsock or smoke of flag for the
field to give wind indications ?
Can you depend really much on other planes in the pattern ? (maybe
they are CFI's or hightime pilots )

Would it be good to maybe fly a low pass (maybe 100-200') above down
intended runway and just do a Goaround first (to get feel for
crosswinds) prior to actually making any reall full attempts to
landing ?


-- jim kenn, March 2, 2010


There are no legal limits on what you can attempt. The "max demonstrated" crosswind component in the AFM is simply what a test pilot did during aircraft certification. Your idea of trying a practice approach is a good one, if only because your second attempt is likely to be more stabilized. The practice approach will only be effective if done fairly slowly and with a slip. That way you're seeing how much rudder you're likely to need when touching down on the runway.

At an uncontrolled but attended airport you request "airport advisories" and they will give you the wind (though they should not designate a runway as "active"; only an ATC Tower controller can do that).

If you're uncomfortable it probably makes sense to divert to an airport with a runway better oriented for the prevailing winds. Hanscom should never have that bad of a crosswind... except that one time I was coming back from DC, my friend was late for his meeting, and I hadn't noticed a NOTAM about 29 being closed. The wind was gusting almost 30 knots roughly 90 degrees off Runway 23. So I decided to try it out in the Cirrus SR20, with the idea of going around and landing at Nashua (which does have a control tower, by the way) if it didn't feel controllable.

Despite my 500+ hours of Cirrus experience at the time, it would have been safer and smarter to have gone to Nashua, especially since the failure to read the NOTAM probably indicated that other things about the flight hadn't been planned very well. I guess the story shows that you can do a lot of stupid things over the years as a pilot; you just can't do them all on one flight and expect the airplane to survive...

-- Philip Greenspun, March 2, 2010

Ohh last time I flew over over 20 yra ago - Nashua was uncontrolled. I didnt know they got a FAA ATC there now. When did that start ?

Yehh it must be kinda hard to have to resort to diverting to some other alternate ap just because the crosswinds have kicked up so much - if it gets too dicey.

Do many pilots use (or bother) doing my idea of a low flyover practice approach when crosswinds get high ? Does the ATC guys get bothered by a pilot doing this and not making a full real landing ? (it's still really a go around , rigth ) ? Would it be good idea to pre-alert ATC tower guys that you're going to do this - because not feel comfortable with crosswinds ?

How/what say if were gonna do this at Uncontrolled field like Minuteman maybe ? ex: say like "making a low approach flyover runway x ) ?

Are there really any good/better ways to know the direction/speeds of crosswinds ?

Too bad wind is invisible - makes this flying thing that much harder.

At big airports (even Hanscom) I've seen the windsock at rwy 11 end like limp rag and the sock at rwy 29 end wipping straight out... So - how dependable really are the wind checks that ATC tower gives out when landing ?

WHere exactly (what location) is ATC tower taking/getting their wind measurements from ? Guess asking how accurate are they ?

Do you have to sorta take them with grain or two of salt and go by more what you feel on final as PIC ?


-- jim kenn, March 2, 2010