So after a slight hiatus, I got back in the saddle today. Winds were blowing 11 knots gusting to 15, with peak gust at 26 knots. A perfect day to introduce crosswind landing procedures. We would also practice incipient spin recovery and emergency procedures.
First we flew out to the south and climbed to where Brett could demonstrate incipient spins and recovery. Similar to stall recovery, I found the 172 to give a fair amount of warning before breaking free, and the recovery to be fairly tame. I do really enjoy this practice. It gives confidence with recovery, but also allows for early recognition of trouble during the busy maneuvers of take-off and landing. Plus it’s really fun.
On the way back to the airfield, Brett pulled the power on me simulating an engine out to practice emergency procedures. We’ve practiced this before and I felt more at ease running through the process of setting up a glide, choosing an appropriate landing location, and running through the trouble shooting checklist. During our approach at my chosen road, I reached over to put in some flaps. As I looked over, I saw an incoming cropduster (they often don’t have radios) which rapidly passed within 150 ft and 75 ft below us. The skies aren’t always as big as we want them to be and this was a reminder to keep our heads on a swivel and eyes open. I would have never seen him without reaching over for the flaps. After this slight distraction while on approach, Brett gave me a little reminder to drop the nose a hair. I looked down at the airspeed indicator and we had dropped to 60 mph which is too slow and getting close to stall if needing to maneuver.
We finished our lesson with crosswind landings. Even though these were some of the most challenging conditions in which I have attempted and made landings, I found that flying the pattern, making an appoach, and landing to feel better than ever. I am psyched that some of this is starting to stick! Not only that, I found the crosswind landings to be fun, though very engaging.
This flight was full. It was the first where I felt a bit of wear at the end of the lesson and it was good to stop when we did. At the same time I felt more in control of the aircraft and confident when executing maneuvers. Lots of learning to go, but I am excited with seeing progress.