Prog Analysis predicted some bad weather coming our way. We thought maybe we could just get to the pattern and get some landing practices before rain hits here. If my landing were consistent we may even be able to get out of Caldwell and fly to Lincoln Park.
Power management was good, had never added power on final to stretch approach;
Looked at the end of runway during transition, so touchdown was soft and minimized floating;
Kept nose rose after main wheel on the ground, to protect nose wheel;
Stayed on top of air speed;
When winds picked up, I got pushed a lot;
The wind shear also requires a higher air speed especially on final; which I wasn’t keeping a good job.
As we got up, the outlook to the north was not good. Around Wanaque, the clouds were low and the visibility was lower. The first couple runs were good. Then we started have to extend downwind to accommodate other traffic. On a few occasions, we were very high on the approach really had to push down to the runway. The purpose of this practice was to try to manage power, with only power reduction on final, so being high was acceptable. As we circling the pattern, the weather deteriorated fast.
3 laps after initial run, the dark clouds moved in fast and maybe 5 miles north of us. However, the wind near field stayed almost the same. So we kept going, even squeezed in a simulated engine loss to put the airplane on ground. One approach was too high, so we had to go around, and my procedure was accurate. Then it suddenly started to turn down.
First, I experienced heavy turbulence after abeaming 22. Had a lot of up-down push which I could do very little to fight back. Then on the next lap, besides turbulence, the wind direction changed from 240 to a tail wind. As I was on short final, a pilot landed earlier reported “nasty tail wind” to the tower. I was also high on approach with higher air speed —- go around. Tower then asked us if we would like to be switched to runway 4. We accepted the offer and started 180 degrees turn since we had the altitude (above 500 AGL I think) to do so. Bob took my power off, so the perspective looked like a power loss on departure. This was the time when I had a slow air speed and could potentially be pushed down hard by down draft.
Then it started to rain. With clear visibility, we were ok to keep going. It was not much a different feeling, except the wind from west made me drift to east of runway. We were able to manage flying normally and fight the gusts as we go around the pattern. The rain was not a big factor but Bob saw a lightning near Wanaque so we called the day.
Today’s lesson truly showed me how quickly weather can change and how much we needed to be prepared. On my way home I experienced heavy down pour and some hail, so that concludes my first weekend of training after break.