Lesson 18 – Learning From Difficult Conditions

The plan for this lesson was to work on side slips, forward slips and go-arounds. We flew to Grand Geneva Resort Airport where the wind was almost directly across the runway. Unfortunately, as it turned out, it was just too bumpy to accomplish everything we had planned. We did do some go-arounds and they worked out fine. The slips were another matter. We gave up completely on the forward slips – they will have to wait for another day. Even though I had a lot of trouble with the side slips, I learned a great deal just from trying.

My patterns had been getting better with each lesson but, they were sloppy yesterday. Fighting the rough air was just too much of a distraction for me. As a result, my altitude, speed control, and timing of the turns all suffered. When I did get lined up with centerline, I had a lot of trouble holding it. The wind was from the right so I was trying to side slip with the right wing down. The bumpy air kept pushing the wing back up or further down so that I was drifting back and forth across the runway rather than tracking straight. After a few low passes, we tried a couple landings. I held some extra speed on final and only put down partial flaps. Still, Sandy had to help me out with the actual flare and landing.

I made an extra effort to maintain my altitude during the cruise stages of this flight. Despite the turbulence, I thought I did a pretty good job with it. Sandy said that she didn’t see the altitude vary by more than 20 feet so she was very happy with it too. I know that there were a few times when the turbulence pushed me up or down by much more than 20 feet but I got back to altitude quickly so, I guess she didn’t count those excursions. Just a few lessons ago, I was really struggling with altitude control. This lesson convinced me that I am actually making progress.

We did some pilotage on the way back to Waukegan. At one point, I was flying a heading of 120 which I was pretty sure would get us back to the airport. Sandy asked me how far out I thought we were. My guess was 15 miles. She set the GPS to KUGN and it popped up with a distance of 14.4 and a course to the airport of 122 degrees. Not a bad guess on the heading or the distance! Now if I could just find other airports…

Radio work with ATC was another positive. I had to hold a couple times while taxiing to the runway for departure and had to get sequenced with a two other aircraft in the pattern when we returned. I understood all of tower’s instructions and made the right responses. No problems there.

Yesterday’s lesson didn’t quit go as planned but, it was a good one never the less. I didn’t master side slips for crosswind landings, but I learned a whole lot about how it is supposed to be done. Next lesson is Thursday and, I have no doubt I will do better with the slips.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this post. I had almost exactly the same problems on Tuesday fighting screaming (to me) xwinds at Morris. I think they were 15G24 but I honestly don’t remember too clearly. I was completely beat down after trying those landings… so much so that even after switching to headwinds at KLOT I couldn’t do those well either. Yesterday I woke up with sore shoulders and arms from the tension. I’m about the same place in my training as you are so I’m feeling much better about things.

    Oh well, back to it again as soon as the weather clears this weekend.

    Good flying!

  • Tom says:

    Thank you for commenting. I think it is important for us to realize that others are exeriencing the same things we are and that the frustrations are a normal part of training.

    Hope your weekend session goes well. I am on for Sunday so I will be watching the weather too.


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