I’m currently waiting to do my first solo navigation exercise, however the weather hasn’t been co-operating. I headed to the airport this morning knowing that I wasn’t going to be doing it (as the cloud base was too low over most of the route), but I thought I’d see if there was anything else I could do. After a quick discussion with the instructor, we decided that as the wind was essentially creating a 90 degree crosswind of around 10 knots (though with gusts up to 16) we would do some crosswind circuits. I knew my crosswind technique needed some work, so this seemed like a good idea.
The first circuit started off OK, until we were asked to switch to the grass runway rather than the main (due to a couple of aircraft departing on the main) – this made life interesting as while the 23 grass runway starts at the same position as the main one, it is a lot shorter, so when using 05 (which we were today) the threshold is a lot further on than the main, and actually quite tricky to see from a distance. My approach was quite unstable, as I took a long time to get properly on the centre line, and my height was a little erratic – this coupled with not properly ‘kicking it straight’ prior to touchdown led to one of my worst landings ever.
I tried to put that one to one side, and the next time around (back on the main), it was a little better, although once again I took a long time to get properly established on the centre line, meaning I was still mentally catching up with the aircraft, and so the landing was again quite poor.
The remaining 3 circuits improved somewhat, as I was making sure I got myself established as early as possible, and was concentrating on trying to get the into wind wheel down first (by lowering that wing just prior to touchdown). By the end I was OK, though with that level of crosswind I wouldn’t be happy doing them solo yet (the wind level today was above the club’s solo crosswind limit, which is to some extent reassuring). I think I’ll make sure if I get similar conditions again at any stage when unable to do the planned activity I’ll ask to do some circuits to try and work on them.
I did find afterwards that I was the most mentally drained I’ve been from flying in a long time, despite the lesson only being 45 minutes, which is nothing compared to some of the recent ones I’ve had. It serves as a good reminder not to become complacent at least I suppose!