4. LESSON 12 - THE CIRCUIT IN STRONG WINDS

Key points of attention:
  • Try to arrive parallel to your reference point at a slightly higher altitude
  • Shorten the downwind leg and turn to the diagonal and base leg earlier (especially when encountering a lot of sink)
  • Correct for drift on the base leg
  • Increase your airspeed during final approach
 

During strong wind, turbulence or when experiencing a lot of sink, you will of course have to adjust your circuit. Especially when you encounter a lot of sink, you will need to shorten the downwind leg and turn to the diagonal and base leg earlier. On the diagonal and especially on the base leg, you will have to correct for drift. If you do not apply the Drift Correction on the base leg, you risk not making it to the airfield.

Keep in mind that a strong headwind will cause your groundspeed on final approach to be a lot lower; if you use the usual amount of airbrakes, the final approach will be a lot steeper and compared to calm wind situations you will land closer by. Near the ground, the headwind will decrease due to the wind gradient (explained in Lesson 20). For that reason, you need to increase your airspeed at final approach. A good rule of thumb is to increase your normal approach airspeed with half the windspeed at ground level. For example, with 20 kts of headwind on the ground, you will need to increase your airspeed during final approach with at least 10 kts.