Too High to Fly: Instructor Training for Windy Conditions
Mitch Rasmussen, Senior Correspondent
February 5, 2013
Filed under Final Approach
We have all had those days. You get up promptly at God knows how early in the morning, grab your flight bag, and head for the shuttle. Stepping into Flight Ops, you catch the look of despair gleaming in the flight supervisor’s eyes. The flight line is on hold for high wind conditions. Some may see these days as a blessing, while others see it as a horrific waste of their time and resources. But, the truth remains; nobody gets to go flying on those kinds of days.
But what if I told you that this could be a huge mistake? Surely you would think Iwas mad. It’s much too dangerous to go mucking around in the wild blue yonderwith thirty knots of headwind! While this may be a fact in most circumstances, itcouldn’t be further from the truth for one situation: training future flight instructors.
From an operational safety and insurance standpoint, it makes complete sense to limit everyone from flying on those blustery days. But, what if training in those conditions could end up saving someone’s life? I know that I would want an instructor that knows his way around the pattern in any conditions. With the current instructor training policy, our new hires are not being held to that standard.
The flight department should really consider allowing students in the 421 flight course to go up with their instructors when the winds are high. It is important
to build that kind of experience. Just as we all train for mechanical emergencies, it is necessary to build the skills that could separate a crew from a safe landing or injury in an environmental emergency.
I have personally seen the winds jump drastically into the danger zone before. What were to happen if landing in these conditions became unavoidable and the luxury of diverting was out of the question due to mechanical emergency or something else? While the seasoned instructor may be able to handle the situation, I fear that not every instructor, especially the new hires, would feel very comfortable landing a Skyhawk in winds he or she has never even experienced before.
While it is certainly a good idea to limit the general population from flying in high wind conditions, I feel that it would be very beneficial for future flight instructors to get that experience. Just as it is important to teach instructors the proper spin recovery procedures, it is my opinion that “high” wind landings should be covered during initial instructor training in order to guarantee the safety of future flight students.