Backwards Flight

I was watching the weather forecast and noticed a strong south wind would be blowing in the morning ahead of some evening storms. The surface winds were only predicted to be 10-15 mph, but at only 3000 feet would be 54 mph. This is faster than the 46mph clean stall speed of my Sonex. The clouds were also forecast to not be a problem. The winds were forecast to be strongest early in the morning, so I arrived at the airport at 5:30am and took off at around 6:00.

The winds during takeoff were a little gusty but almost directly down the runway.  I got to pattern altitude sooner than normal, but around 2000 feet started to have doubts that the forecast headwind was correct.  The air smoothed out and around 3000 feet I was easily moving 10mph backwards.  I zigzagged a bit side to side to keep an eye on what was happening on the field.

I began my descent north of the runway while still flying backwards and zigzagged intentionally thinking it would allow me to keep making progress backwards while descending into slower air.  Once back below about 2600 feet the air was turbulent again and difficult to comfortably keep the airplane close to a stall.  By this time I easily had the field made and flew a normal full flap approach at 70mph down to the runway.


Once above 3000 feet, I was able to maintain altitude easily between 2200-2400 rpm. Oil temperature rose as high as 215F, much higher than it normally would in cruise. The highest CHT stabilized around 350F, also higher than I would normally expect.

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