Crosswind landings

Today we only logged half an hour.  The plan was to stay in the pattern and do a few touch & gos, with me doing all of the radio work.  The first takeoff was OK; I got clearance and taxi instructions, contacted tower, we lined up and off we went — slight crosswind from the right on runway 14L.  We made one circuit and did a t&g on 14L, my first one — no sweat.

So we went around, got lined up, we were over the numbers when John said we were going to go around (just so I’d know how).  Full throttle, carb heat off, positive climb, flaps up.  No sweat, climb back up and make the left turn for crosswind and downwind.  We were on the downwind leg when Tower said to keep it close in, there was a Citation on 4 mile final and we were #1.  Or were we #2?  We called back and asked…  “33F, you were #1 but that’s not going to work.  Turn left and cross mid-field, enter right downwind for 14L.”  OK, fine…  no problem. It felt a little odd overflying the airport at midfield, and a right-hand pattern was new for me.  Gotta work to get a view of the runway on that base turn!  Now I know how Cessna pilots feel.  It was also a little weird flying past 14R to get to 14L.

By this time the wind had shifted and picked up significantly. We’d make one last landing, full stop, and call it a day. Now the wind was 20K or more from 180, and we’re still using 14L. I had the right wing low, plenty of left rudder… John doesn’t like to just crab in for a crosswind landing; he wants to see a slip. His way of thinking is, you can crab in when there’s too much crosswind for the airplane to safely land. If you’re carrying a whole lot of rudder and aileron and are still getting blown off the centerline, well, maybe you shouldn’t land. I can see his point. Anyway, I was doing pretty well… using the PAPI lights, keeping the nose down, staying lined up as much as I could. Crossed the numbers still carrying a lot of power, or so I thought. I started to flare a little high (as I often do, I’m working on that) and made the mistake of pulling power back a couple hundred RPM. We ballooned, I didn’t get on the throttle fast enough, John took it and got us on the ground with only a minor thump. I was actually just starting to shove the throttle in and was going to go around when he said, “My airplane”.

I know what I did wrong, and I know the only way to avoid it is practice.  I need a lot more practice landing.  Still, the plane — and I — will fly again.