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Question 3 point or wheel landings in strong crosswinds?

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Forums Chief Pilot
Staff member
Oct 31, 1996
Type aircraft owned
Carbon Cub FX-3
Base airport
I'm interested in what people choose for landings in crosswinds in a taildragger? When do you decide on three point vs. wheel landings?
An age old and controversial question.

I prefer 3 point landings with or without a crosswind. Those that say "you have better control with a wheel landing in a crosswind" I assume are referring to more speed at touchdown equates to more control. Perhaps so, but you are going to slow and transition to a three point attitude eventually anyway. All you do with this technique is increase the landing distance and prolong your exposure to the crosswind condition.

For me, wheel landings are useful when there are significant gusts, whether the wind is blowing straight down or across the runway. In most conventional gear airplanes, a three point landing is a full stall landing. If you are in the landing flair for a three point landing you are just a few knots above stall speed. Should a ten knot gust disappear at this point, the airplane will stall before touchdown. This is actually a decreasing performance wind shear condition. Conversely, a ten knot increase of the gust during the landing flair will cause an airplane to "balloon". The slightly faster approach required by a wheel landing gives you more of a buffer to deal with the wind shear. In this case, I am willing to accept an increase in landing distance.

There are always exceptions to the rule. One is in the Beech 18. The problem with that airplane is that airflow over the elevators is blanked off in a power off landing flair by the center section of the wing and extended flaps. Try a power off wheel landing in that airplane and the tail will stall during the flair, causing the main wheels to impact the runway. A three point landing can be done, but you must use engine power during the round out to keep airflow over the elevators. Bottom line, that particular airplane is just happier with a wheel landing.
I think I'm of the belief, in my novice stage, to always 3 point ensuring the nose is lined up, no sideloads. I think the only time I'll wheel land is for visibility concerns such as a narrow strip, etc.
Old Beech driver here, wheely is the only way to go when the winds are over 20 and a crosswind.