Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


A Lesson Learning Good Judgment

April 22, 1974

The first thing a newly-licensed Private pilot wants to do is to take a cross-country somewhere to show off his flying skills to his family. So I was motivated to do so in the spring of 1974, in April, when fresh strong spring weather systems flow across the continental United States, providing strong westerlies aloft and at ground level.

It was a very nice day for flying at a high altitude in smooth air above the puffy scattered cumulus; however due to those strong winds aloft the trip took somewhat longer than planned and thus the airplane burned somewhat more fuel than planned. Upon arriving at the destination I still had just enough reserve fuel for the alternate, so I wasn't too concerned. The strong surface winds were, however, blowing directly across the single main paved runway. I tried, and again, and yet again to master that crosswind, with a go-around and yet another go-around. Five attempts. Five go-arounds. With the result of burning into my alternate fuel. But the airport did have a grass strip oriented more or less directly into the wind. Finally, I relented and landed on the grass strip with no problems, stopping short of the intersection.

This taught me a lesson about flying judgment: good flying judgment is knowing when to make a decision to take another course of action that results in the desired outcome without having to chance the outer limits of your piloting skills. There was really no excuse for me not deciding to change my course of action to landing on the grass strip after the second go-around.



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