LOG ENTRY - 19-JAN-2012                                        Matt Borland
  Flight: 33 - 19-JAN-2012 - 0.8 hr - Windy days
  Depart: KCOS ~1230 -> Arrive: KCOS ~1318

This morning it had been very windy, and my guess was that there wasn't a 
chance I'd be flying at all.  Birds were hunkered down and the prairie dogs 
were all tucked into their burrows.  But around noon the winds died down a bit, 
so I headed out to the airport and did the preflight on my plane.  The forecast 
was still calling for variable and gusty winds, and the likelihood of a strong 
crosswind was high, so my instructor came along (the intention had been for me 
to do solo practice of the various landings).

There was a little wind as we taxied to runway 17R, where after our runup we 
were cleared for immediate takeoff.  There was a little crosswind from the 
left, but mostly we just had a little headwind.  In the pattern I tried to get 
a sense as to how the wind was moving me, and as we got aloft it was clear that 
there were all sorts of variations in the wind.  I did a few patterns and 
landings, and each time it felt as though someone had notched up the 
'difficulty' rating.  At first I had to counter for the wind a little, just by 
using the rudder to maintain coordinated flight, but each time the winds became 
stronger and more variable.  

When you are knocked around by the wind, you need to respond quickly and with 
equal force...otherwise you're at its mercy.  If you lose 20 knots of your 
headwind, use your throttle or other means to make up for it quickly.  If you 
get tossed and turned, make the roll or yaw corrections to get you back on 
track.  In winds like this, your body is constantly in motion: feet working the 
rudder, keeping your plane coordinated; left hand on the yoke keeping your 
pitch (nose up/down) and your roll (banking left/right) under control; right 
hand on the throttle, adjusting as necessary to correctly climb, descend, or 
maintain your altitude at the proper airspeed; your head poking forward and 
swiveling around to get the best view of traffic and the runway.  You can tell 
a good pilot on a rough day, because they're throwing the controls around like 
a madman while your ride feels nice and smooth.

On one of the approaches, the wind must have shifted to a strong west wind, 
because as I turned into my base leg heading and maintaining a 30 degree right 
bank, I found myself quite a bit left of the runway...and had to backtrack to 
bring the plane back in line with the runway.  I still wasn't lined up very 
well as I neared the threshold so my instructor had me call a 'go-around.'  If 
you don't feel good about a landing...unless you're expecting to run out of 
fuel, go around and try again.  For a go-around, just nose and throttle up, and 
if you have any flaps, bring them back a little at a time.  I called to the 
tower 'zero two november is on the go' to let them know that we aborted the 
landing, and as I entered the pattern again they asked the reason for the go 
around.  They had been getting wind shear reports from the other planes that 
were landing, so they wanted to know if we'd experienced something adverse in 
our approach.  I talked with my boss (a former USAF jet pilot) later about the 
fact that I was taking the maximum bank angle for pattern work and still 
overshot, and he said, yeah, sometimes you feel like you need to put in 90 
degrees to fight the wind in a turn (you wouldn't want to do that in a T-41C).  
If you know the wind's there, you need to just give yourself more room for the 
turn; I tried to make the turn in the same space as on a non-windy day...
because last I knew the wind was coming from a completely different direction.

In one pattern, as we were in a downwind leg (paralleling and opposite to the 
runway), the tower told us we were clear to land following an F-16.  We watched 
the F-16 come in (my boss says their approach speed is somewhere around 150 
knots/170 mph...twice as fasts as our approach), and as we turned our base leg 
the tower relayed that the F-16 pilot had encountered a 20 knot loss of 
airspeed on his final just at the threshold of the runway.  Since the T-41C 
approaches at 75 mph (the T-41C is calibrated in mph) and stall speed is around 
55 mph, that could be a problem...not what you want on final just short of the 
runway.  So we bumped up our approach speed in anticipation of the drop...if it 
happened on our approach, we'd be ready for it...if not we'd burn off the speed 
in our flare.  We actually didn't experience the airspeed loss...but it was 
good to be prepared for it.  We landed, and when we got back up in the pattern 
we heard calls from other landing planes about 25 and 30 knot airspeed losses.  
Flying the downwind leg felt like jumping around in a moon walk, or perhaps 
being slapped around by a malevolent wind-god, so given that and everything 
else we called in to the tower to inform them we wanted a full stop on this 
next landing.

One fact demonstrated today is that the plane is flying at all times, even when 
on the ground.  You need to still maintain the controls and respond to the 
winds even when taxiing or parked.  In particular, you use the ailerons (via 
the yoke) to deflect the wind in a proscribed fashion...into the wind when it's 
coming from your front or immediately from the sides of the plane, and 
deflected away from the winds when coming from the rear (called 'rear 
quartering' winds).  Although I had known and performed these controlling 
actions before, I never really got to experience why until today.  Not that the 
plane exactly would have flipped, but certainly without correction it would 
have gone up on two legs or out of control.  When we parked at the gas pump, my 
instructor held onto the plane while I filled the tanks, and as we got in the 
plane it started to roll forward until my instructor reached over and put the 
parking brake in (I probably should have put that in when I stopped the plane). 
Yes, planes have parking brakes too.

On the way back to the aero club hangar, the plane was taxiing partly into the 
wind, and felt like it was moving through molasses.  Usually I can have the 
plane running at 1000 RPM and it still gradually builds speed; today I had to 
keep the engine at 1300 RPM much of the time just to keep moving, and the 
controls felt all muddled.

Airports like Colorado Springs have an automated weather system, where they 
collect the current weather conditions, then record a description of the 
conditions along with any other important notices (important runway closings, 
bird activity, etc.)  Each new recording of the report is given a successive 
letter, e.g. Bravo, then Charlie.  When we had checked the automated weather 
recording before takeoff, we had 'information Papa' (P).  Through the course of 
our flight the information was changed three times, because we ended up at 
'information Sierra' in the space of about 45 minutes.  This was due to the 
large number of times the wind direction and speed changed, as well as the risk 
for wind shear (sudden and strong localized changes in wind).

All in all, it was actually very fun to be out in the winds...a long way from 
my second flight where the winds (which were nowhere as strong) had beaten me 
psychologically.  Today taught me that I can react to dynamic and fluid 
conditions and still maintain control and get the plane on the ground safely.