The Flying Reporter is forced to reject a take off in the PA28 at Biggin Hill Airport in gusty cross winds. I was worried about a helicopter that had just lifted from the runway I was due to depart from, for fear that I’d suffer wake turbulence. An additional factor was the presence of strong and sometimes gusting cross winds. While these would disperse any rotor wash from my path quickly, they came with their own hazards.
I rotated the aircraft at my usual take off speed, but presumably because of the cross wind, or possibly even because of the wake turbulence, the aircraft struggled to fly. I was only able to lift off very slightly, but then drifted from the centre line. I settled back down on the runway and brought the aircraft to a stop. The presence of the helicopter had distracted me from using a better crosswind take off technique. The second attempt saw me use 5-10knots more airspeed before lift off, and using forward pressure on the yoke to keep the aircraft on the ground and controllable with rudder. This lift off was uneventful.
We had originally planned to fly to and land at Duxford Aerodrome, but our departure was delayed by a technical problem with the aircraft. With thunderstorms due in the afternoon, we decided to just make the trip a local flight down to the south coast, routing over Beachy Head, Eastbourne and Hastings.
The landing was a challenge. By the time we returned, the gusting cross winds were at the aircraft’s demonstrated cross wind limit (270/8g19). At touchdown the instant wind was nearer 250/12. You’ll see me fighting the gusts on the way down to the runway threshold. The landing wasn’t pretty, with a touchdown on one wheel (as planned) a slight bounce, then re-settling down after the application of a little power to arrest the resulting sink.
Video: Rejected take off