Lesson 23 – Flying in the Rain

The weather was iffy yesterday with the radar showing solid precipitation to the west of KUGN. We didn’t want to venture away from the airport but, we did manage to make four trips around the pattern in the occasional rain.

The first shower blew through as I was doing my preflight. I learned that those high wings on the C172 come in handy when it rains. That shower ended after just a few minutes and we took off from runway 23. The first two patterns went pretty well except that I overshot the base to final turn both times. My flare and touchdown is coming along. These first two landings could almost be called gentle. They weren’t exactly on the centerline but, they were close.

The third pattern took us into light rain on the downwind and the sky was getting very dark off to the north and west. We were also starting to get bounced around a little during the climb to pattern altitude. Sandy tried to coach me through this turn to final but, I overshot it again. I got back on the centerline and put in the correction for the increasing crosswind. I held it down to the flare but rolled wings level just before touchdown so that we landed well right of the centerline. Sandy says it’s something that everyone does at first but, I think I should know better by now. I will have to keep reminding myself to hold the sideslip all the way to touchdown.

A look at the dark clouds convinced us that the fourth pattern would be our last. The turbulence was worse and the rain was heavier on this circuit. The runway lights came on while we were on the downwind indicating that the conditions at the field had dropped to marginal VFR. The lights helped me out as I used the approach lighting to line up with the centerline with no overshoot this time. I held the sideslip better but, I ballooned and had to add power in the flare. This was the hardest landing of the day but still softer than the ones I was making a week ago.

I’m glad we didn’t cancel this lesson. Flying in the rain was good experience and the landings really are getting better. We will try it again on Sunday.