were right, as far as Ercoupes went, because
they were virtually stall-spin proof, but the
absence of independent rudder control on
the standard model was a problem for crosswind maneuvering on runways.
A NARROW ROAD
In the early days of aviation, most airfields
were more like a pasture than a road.
Taking off into the wind was as simple as
taxiing to the downwind end of the field,
carefully avoiding the cow-plops, and turning into the wind to take off.
These days, our runways are mostly good
surfaces, mostly cow-plop-free, and decently
long, but they’re often at an angle to the
wind. So crosswind landing and takeoff
techniques are vital knowledge.
We light-flight types have to pay even
more attention to crosswinds than do pilots
of heavier aircraft. A 15-mile-an-hour puff
from the side has little effect on an airplane
weighing a ton or two. Whereas lightweight
aircraft hopscotch down the runway.
Returning to the ice-road takeoff:
Fortunately for us, we were parked in a
tree-sheltered inlet off the main body of the
lake, so wind was not yet a factor. There was
an alternative, of course, and that was to
remain at the friend’s place overnight, wait-
ing for better winds. That might sound
ludicrously timid, but as a wise old instruc-
tor told me once…in private aviation, you
don’t have to be anywhere. Staying overnight
would have been inconvenient, but, under
some circumstances, necessary.