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crabbed approach

Touch and Go Landings at ISP – Private Pilot Lesson #6


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For Lesson #6, we worked on touch-and-go landings at Islip (ISP). I was glad to be practicing landings rather than maneuvers, after my rough, bumpy day of slow flight in Lesson #5. My CFI introduced me to “the option”, which we request from the control tower, and which allows us to do whatever type of landing we want:

  • touch-and-go: touch down, keep rolling, take off again
  • stop-and-go: touch down, come to a complete stop, take off again
  • full stop: touch down, exit the runway onto a taxiway, either taxi to parking or back to the beginning of the runway for another takeoff (taxi-back, they call it)
  • go-around: abort your landing and climb back into the air without touching down. This simulates any sort of aborted-landing situation (another airplane on the runway, or a car, or a deer, or anything that would make it unsafe to land)
  • low approach: some serious TOP GUN ACTION, where you don’t touch down, but add power and fly a few feet above the runway, then lift off near the end. We didn’t get to do one of these today 🙁

I also got a good intro to crosswind landings. We had a slight crosswind from the right on Runway 33L. In the air, you will point the nose of the airplane into the wind some, to get the ground track you want. So, if you have a wind from the south while flying east, you’ll have to actually point the nose slightly south of east (depending on the strength of the wind) to maintain a perfectly east direction of travel. This is called a crab:

crabbed approach

You can see how this would work well in the air. But, if you touch down on the runway with your wheels pointed 25 degrees off to the right, guess which way the airplane will go? Well let’s just say you might be helping the airport out with their landscaping on the right edge of the runway. So, when you get close to the runway, you have to transition to a sideslip. In a side slip, you dip one wing into the wind, using that bank angle to adjust your direction of travel by implementing a steeper or more shallow bank, depending on the wind. You use opposite rudder (left rudder in this case) to align the nose of the airplane with the runway.

SideSlip Approach

So, when you touch down, everything is aligned properly and you roll happily STRAIGHT down the runway. This may mean that you touch down on one wheel (the upwind wheel) first, and then lower the other wheel to the pavement, and that’s OK. I somehow missed that last point, and was thinking I had to have the airplane perfectly level when I touched down, so I struggled a bit with these. We ended up doing four landings, and even a forward slip (WHEEEEE!!!) before heading back to FRG. All in all, a good day of landing practice, and a great intro to some concepts that will hopefully, one day, become second nature.