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Two lessons were scheduled today, but only 3/4 of one happened due weather. The low cloud and gusty wind conditions forecast didn’t arrive until a bit later than anticipated, but arrive they did and after about 40 minutes and 3 circuits my instructor pulled the pin on the lesson. In fact the crosswind was so strong that he made the final landing himself, judging (quite reasonably) that I was not yet ready for it.
But at this stage I’m reasonably sanguine about it all. Possibly foolishly? Here’s my thinking:
- I’ve still got nearly 5 weeks full time to throw at this before I go back to work (though clearly I’m going to be doing some of my PPL training part-time after then – hopefully I’ll get the GFPT done though!)
- My landings are getting better – made my best one so far today (though my instructor only rated it a 5 out of 10)
- I at least got up today, which always feels better than a day with no flying at all
- I got some additional much-needed study time in, and
- I can’t do much about the weather anyway.
Not an awful lot to relate in terms of detail about today. We were only up for 35-odd minutes and only did 3 or 4 circuits. But today was notable in 2 respects:
- As mentioned above, I made my best landing so far. John only rated it 5/10, but he did say it was “good”. The approach was stable (this was while the wind was on the rise but hadn’t really come up yet in terms of serious crosswind), use of rudder was reasonable, hold-off was good up to the point when main wheels touched the ground with only a light “chirp” sound, and I actually heard the stall warning sound at that point, which is ideal. However I then dumped the nosewheel on the ground rather than continuing to hold off and allow the aircraft to fully land itself. But it was a key learning step and I can’t wait to improve it next lesson.
- It was my first experience of serious crosswind. Circuits were on 11 right today, and wind was initially from 150 degrees magnetic (that is, from about 40 degrees to my right) at 10 knots. This threw new variables into the equation. I needed extra right pedal to stay in line with runway on takeoff. And, I had to contend (and struggle) with the crosswind blowing me too close back to the runway on my downwind and final legs in particular.
After my “prize” landing, the last circuit I flew fully today was really difficult. The weather was coming in fast and the wind was both changing direction and increasing in terms of speed and gusts. Things were really bouncy and difficult for me on this circuit, and the landing not awful but the approach pretty scratchy. I’ve not yet been properly schooled in “crabbing” the aircraft into the wind on final approach – though I get it in principle, and this will come in my training.
On the last circuit John checked the wind with the tower and decided that this was our last circuit and we would land. On late base he further decided that the conditions were too challenging for my present level so he took over and landed. Crosswind was gusting up to about 28 knots at this point – the aircraft is only rated up to 17 – so I had no problems handing over the controls!
But it was good early exposure to the joys and challenges of crosswind circuits, takeoffs and landings. I’d like to have got 2 hours of flying in today, but at least I got 45 minutes, and I feel as though the turning point with my landing flare is just around the corner.
Stayed in the clubhouse to (almost) complete my endorsement questionnaire for flying the PA28 Warrior, which is a necessary step before first solo. Tomorrow is no-fly Tuesday – forecast weather would probably ground me in any case – so I’ll bone up for the pre-solo exam and hopefully get that out of the way on Wednesday.
Weather doubtful for rest of week though. Hope I can scam at least a couple more hours of circuits in the air this week at the very least. Otherwise, fear – as a very possible outcome – that Friday’s scheduled pre-solo checkride (and possible solo?) will delay into next week.
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