predictability; x-wind landings

[From Bruce Gregory 960327.1300]

Bill Powers 950327.0630 MST

  I don't know if I'm saying this clearly. To exaggerate, suppose I
  explained to the trooper, "I was unable to keep the entropy of my car
  from increasing." From a certain theoretical standpoint, this might
  be a correct way to characterize the result, but entropy is very
  unlikely to have been part of any actual intentional processes

  Are we talking about a conclusion drawn by an observer of a behaving
  system, or about an actual process carried out in a behaving system?

You said it very clearly, thank you.

  Yes, this is how we are taught things like crosswind landings. But
  when you actually try the process, these descriptions suddenly take
  on new meanings than the words didn't have. Actually, your description
  applies only to the moments just before touchdown when you're trying
  to keep the fuselage (or more specifically, the undercarriage) aligned
  with the runway, which requires a momentary slip. In the final
  approach, you don't use crossed controls; you fly coordinated but with
  the nose aimed somewhat upwind, so you're approaching the runway in a
  crabbed orientation. The way I think of it is that just before the
  wheels touch the runway, you kick the plane into alignment. If you
  actually try to touch down with one wing low, I think you risk some
  pretty hairy consequences. Have you ever actually landed on one wheel?
  Maybe you can really do this, but I never could when I was flying.
  The only time I've actually seen it done was at an air show, with a
  stunt pilot at the controls. I've often thought that the guy who
  wrote those descriptions of how to touch down in a crosswind wasn't
  putting into words what he or she actually did. It sure wasn't what
  _I_ actually did!

You captured my experience exactly. I _have_ landed on one wheel, but
I am much more likely to level my wings just before touching down.

  I think that looking at the wind sock and anticipating your moves is
  mainly a way of occupying your cognitive levels and keeping them from
  being surprised and interfering when you actually land the plane,
  doing what you actually have to do. If you do it the way I said
  (align with the runway; stop the lateral drift; kick the plane
  straight just before touchdown) you will get down just fine, whatever
  your cognitive systems are going on about. Cognitive -- verbal --
  learning isn't the best way to learn nonverbal control tasks.

I think you are exactly on the mark. There are a very limited of
situations when cognitive learning seems to be critical, however. For
example, pushing the wheel forward in a spin. But if you practice,
the control becomes "second nature" and the cognitive levels stop
chattering. (Learning to steer into a skid may be another example
where initially you have to set a reference level at an "unnatural"
location on the continuum.)


Bruce G.