did not, and that brings us to how to deal
with such an event.
THE TACTICAL APPROACH
The strategy for coping with wind gradient
begins with reminding yourself right before
the event, or the potential event, that undesirable things do happen. Any takeoff
includes the possibility of losing the engine;
any flight includes the possibility of bad
weather, power loss, or equipment malfunction. Any landing can include many
unfortunate events, but when significant
wind gradient is present, it can include a
them as a P- 51, gradually relaxing the high
standards we ought to demand of ourselves
every time we fly. If we routinely try to land
not far beyond the threshold, and to make the
first taxiway turnoff without standing on the
brakes, then we can usually deal with some
extra airspeed on short final when significant
wind gradient might be looming.
That was four years ago. The bent gear
leg was replaced, and it’s still nice and
straight. I plan to keep it that way.
Dave Matheny, EAA 184186, is a private pilot and an FAA
ground instructor. He has been flying light aircraft, including ultralights, for almost 30 years. He can be reached at
Go Fly... Glass.
If you even halfway suspect
that wind gradient might be
present, ... keep a hand on the
throttle, ready to add power.
If you even halfway suspect that wind
gradient might be present, carry a little
extra airspeed, keep your nose lower than
usual, and keep a hand on the throttle, ready
to add power.
That extra airspeed can keep you airborne
for the length of time it takes to get down to
the surface. A nose-low attitude, or at least a
nose-lower-than-usual attitude, can allow
you to reacquire that precious lost airspeed as
quickly as added throttle can deliver it.
These precautions require that the runway
be long enough to handle a faster-than-usual
landing if the dreaded wind gradient doesn’t
materialize. Fortunately for us down at the
lightweight end of the spectrum, most runways are plenty long enough. In fact, I have
encountered only a few too-short-for-com-fort runways, and even those could have
been landed on in a true emergency. It’s
always worth stating: It is better to roll
slowly off the far end of a runway than to fly
rapidly into the near end.
Most runways are far longer than we
lightweights need, so it’s easy to get into the
slothful, forgetful habit of landing as far down
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