I ain't gonna lie. This old boy's feelin' whooped tonight.
Flying was very challenging tonight from the moment I took off, thanks to a 13 kt left crosswind that was almost straight across RWY 27. Did another session of flying rectangular courses, followed by my first crack at S-turns. After about 30 min of maneuvers, my instructor reassured me I had done well and told me both maneuvers would have passed during a checkride. Good to know, but trying not to get over-confident. After the last S-turn, we headed back to the airport for crosswind landing practice. This, my friends, is where it got very, VERY challenging for me. We did 4 landings, the first of which was preceeded by a go-around. It was a bad approach all the way back to the downwind that was too close to the runway, and it was no time at all that I was almost at upwind leg distance by the time I finished my turn to final. Expected the go-around, but was reassured when I heard him say it.
Here's the METAR from 6:35 PM local time, about the time we made it back to the airport:
KHNB 302235Z AUTO 24012G18KT 10SM FEW 044 32/23 RMK A01
Now, it says 240 wind heading on the METAR, but the sock on both ends was blowing straight across the runway the whole time, and the 18KT gusts were very, very evident, particularly coming off the trees left of the runway, about 2-300 FT prior to the end of 27.
On my second of the four landings, I caught a gust off said trees on my final approach, and it rattled my cage a bit. But I soldiered on. Try 3 of 4 was better, even though I was slightly high, I felt more confident about the aim and speed of the approach. However, the wind had apparently let up just a bit (3-4 kts by the time we checked AWOS again), so naturally I held the left wing down too much and drifted way left of center. Instructor got me back on track then gave me a "let's do one more." Carb heat in, full power, flaps up.
Next approach was a little better, but I floated too much, and the instructor took the plane and we executed another go-around. The last attempt was the best in my opinion as far as pattern distance & shape, approach was a little better, but still just couldn't quite get there. With little input nudges from the instructor, got her down but was a bit fast. Missed the intended taxiway (we had a Citation inbound and were trying for the first available so we could be clear of the runway). Taxied past hold-short, stopped and announced clear of the active, then proceeded back to the hangar & closed out shutdown/parking procedures.
During the debrief, he tried to reassure me not to beat myself up too badly, which of course I was doing. Also agreed to better communicate with him what I was thinking (was nervous after second attempt, said I should have let him know, we'd have stopped).
He does an excellent job of explaining the why and how, and encouraging me that I'm doing well. Still, even knowing that this one of the most challenging parts, I feel like I'm behind the curve, especially landings, but he keeps reassuring me I'm far ahead of it. I know the confidence will come with time and practice, and I know I'll get the hang of it. I just need to be patient with myself.
Hrs To-date: 8.3
Gallons of sweat absorbed by shirts: 15