Today’s lesson was supposed to be a review of all that I have learnt so far (Standard landings, glide approach, flapless etc). Though as we started, the wind picked up to a 14 knot cross-wind. So the lesson quickly turned into a cross-wind lesson. We’ve touched on cross-wind landings before, though only briefly. This lesson felt like I was starting from scratch, all of a sudden my landings were crap, the approach wasn’t the best and I was forgetting simple things like raising the flaps. All because of the direction of wind.
I was amazed how much of a difference a cross-wind makes. I’m past the point of being disappointed with bad lessons or feeling down after a bad landing. With every take-off and landing, I’m building experience and learning. There’s no use dwelling on what was, just learn and move on. Flying is all about focusing on the here and now.
As I said, my landings were all over the place (I wasn’t crashing, so I guess they weren’t all bad). The first 8 or so required a lot of instruction by Robert. It seems I’m not applying enough rudder to arrest the situation. Another error I was making was confusing rudder and aileron. Simple I know, though in the heat of the moment, all crossed up, for some reason I kept trying to use rudder to get me back to the centre line. I now know the correct procedure is to use aileron to fly back to the centre line and hold the wing into the wind while holding a descent amount of rudder to keep the nose pointing in the right direction.
Once the hour was up, I still wasn’t happy with my landings. Things just weren’t falling into place. Robert asked if I wanted to keep going since the conditions were near perfect for this type of lesson (the wind was a solid but steady cross-wind). I decided to go for a couple of extra laps (about 9 mins extra). 9 mins doesn’t seem like much, but when you are paying $4.70 a minute, it adds up quickly.
I’m sooooo glad I did. The last two were near perfect! I held the rudder solid to point the nose down the runway while flying the left wing into the wind to hold my position. I held the aileron and rudder in position during and roll before releasing to neutral and popping the elevator to get airborne. While it has delayed solo, I’m glad I got the chance to learn cross-wind landings beforehand. Now I’m able to go solo in not so perfect conditions. Like Robert said after the fact, “cross-winds not a little harder, it’s a lot harder”.
Next lesson should be revision for solo. If Robert feels confident in my abilities which I think he already does, he might send me solo the lesson after. It all depends on when my licenses turn up. I’m really hoping that happens in the next week or two.