Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Light-Sport Chronicles: Ears Wide Open

When Lou Mancuso talks about LSA...people listen

GPA and the Personal Limitation Checklist are key components of Mid Island's training approach. "The most common way to wreck a plane is making a crosswind landing," says Mancuso. "GPA is all about becoming a better crosswind lander. Our students fly the plane down a 9,000-foot runway on crosswind days with an instructor aboard.

"First, they fly 10 feet above ground, at 80 knots, in a crab for about a minute and a half—it's a lot of fun! With 2,000 feet of runway left, they do a go-around."

The task progresses in difficulty through a half-flap, 60-knot pass at five feet above the strip, and not in a crab—students must use rudder and aileron to hold the centerline. "Then we go to full flaps, 50 knots and three feet above ground!" Mancuso continues. "At 50 knots, the airplane wants to weather vane tremendously, so crosswind effects are very pronounced."

Pronounced, as in rudder all the way against the stop! "The student will often have to hold centerline with ailerons only, and fly 7,000 feet that way. It's almost two minutes at that speed."

Once that skill is mastered, students slowly reduce power at 50 knots/full flaps/three feet AGL and settle the plane onto the mains—always on the centerline—with the nosewheel held off. "And we have them go 500 feet down the runway like that, never touching the nosewheel, then do a go-around."

Are your palms sweating like mine?

"All that will bring your crosswind skills up tremendously," explains Mancuso. "Few pilots have even made crosswind landings with full-rudder deflection. It develops your confidence in using your feet. The only reason people can't land in monster crosswinds is they haven't practiced it enough."

Lou collaborated with Dr. Irvin Gleim to create a crosswind profile at Edwards Air Force Base beyond what any pilot would ever fly a Bristell in. The Bristell is Mid Air's current and only LSA trainer for reasons we'll examine in a future column. Students get used to putting in the control pressures on the sim that support real-world, big-crosswind landings.

The other key component of Mid Air's training regimen is the PLC—the Personal Limitation Checklist Lou created. You'll find it on Mid Island's website at

"The booklet and 24-item checklist help you set your own limits for safe flying. One item is the Solid Gold Out for making weather decisions.


Add Comment