5/20/15: Today we flew N6462R because my normal training aircraft (N8350R) was in for preventive maintenance cycle (100hr checkup). Being accustom to flying 8350R I could immediately feel the difference! N6462R was a lighter weighing aircraft. Upon take off and with some strong cross winds, we got pushed around a bit. I thought Tom was testing me but he was not. As soon as we felt the winds pushing Tom set flaps to 25 degrees and gradually retracted the flaps as positive rate of climb was reached. I continued to climb the normal pattern out to the training area. I could feel the winds pushing upon us and clearly a very bumpy ride.
All in all, I was calm comfortable and really enjoying the winds pushing us! I was having fun! I also realized that you can’t fight the wind, you have to work with it and adjust you aircraft to fly level. One must remember to never fight with your aircraft (bully the controls with brute force and grasping tightly) Just make smooth adjustments. The plane will play nice and follow your lead… Tom allowed me to perform a test by using rudder for directional control rather than aileron. I wanted to feel and see how this plane performed and reacted, it did great. After, Tom had me perform clearing maneuvers, 45 degree turns and ground referencing around a ground object. The heavy winds were a good learning tool. I was able to grasp or understand how as a pilot, you will have to adjust your aircraft to perform the way you need it to and the direction you want to fly.
We took the normal return route back and as we entered and maintained below the Bravo airspace I called in KCDW tower and advised that we were in bound. KCDW ATC acknowledge and advise contact when we reached the water tower by Lincoln Park. Tom informed me to maintain 1700ft as we passed Lincoln Park Airport to ensure we do not interfere with their landing pattern altitude which is a safety precaution. As we reached the water tower, we contacted KCDW ATC. We were number 3 in line to land and entered left pattern for runway 4 (spotted traffic and kept an eye for safety). We had to extend our downwind until we could spot plane number 2 making a right turn to base towards runway 4 (they were opposite side of us). I then made my base leg turn, reduce power to start our landing decent to final leg with 10 degree flaps and with speed a little higher than normal due to strong cross winds. We maintained at that configuration and touched down further than normal intentionally because of strong winds and I was aiming past the numbers.
What did I learn? Check ATIS prior to landing, it helps with weather conditions. It’s good to know what you are running into. Although not guaranteed because weather can change unexpectedly… I continue to take advantage of windy days in order to improve my landing skills. Besides, calm days are not as fun and challenging.