Note: I’ve moved my blog! You can find this post here.
Today we had direct crosswinds and we got knocked around a bit. This was my first day of “pattern work,” which is simply flying around the traffic pattern over and over again practicing takeoffs and landings. When talking to ATC you tell them you want “closed traffic,” meaning that you are just going to stay in the pattern.
There were some fairly strong gusts, and my first landing was pretty shoddy–a combination of strong winds, a gust, and a lack of directional control meant that we almost veered off the runway after landing!
Another highlight was being too low on one of the approaches–4 red lights on the VASI. There’s a saying: “4 red, you’re dead.” Not already dead, but a way of saying you are too low on approach and need a correction (such as adding power) to ensure you don’t make premature contact with the ground.
Two of the landings I decided to do a go-around. On one I was too high, and on another I just didn’t have good control of the airplane and couldn’t stay aligned with the runway centerline.
My takeoffs got a lot better after Tom cued me to add more right rudder as we got closer to takeoff speed. Without it, we were being blown to the side and almost heading down the runway at a slight angle, causing an odd sensation (and able to tell something was noticeably wrong) with the wheels slightly skipping.
Overall, I saw some noticeable improvement in my landing ability over the course of the lesson. Although I had intuited it before, I am now able to see that getting good at landing is simply a matter of a lot of time and practice. You may hear advice to get to your solo in as few hours as possible, but at this point I am able to appreciate that it will happen when it happens. Everyone learns at different rates, and you’ll solo when both you and your instructor feel you’re ready–regardless of the hours. Worrying about hours simply takes mental capacity away from what you set out to do in the first place: learn to fly and enjoy doing it!