With the winds at 14 knots gusting to 20, yesterday was a good day to practice rudder use with some ground reference maneuvers and crosswind landings. By the end of the lesson, I was getting a feel for how using the rudder properly improved just about every phase of flight.
We started with a couple steep turns and a turning, power off stall. After those, we went down low for some S-turns. With the constantly changing bank angles and turns to both the left and the right, these are great for practicing rudder use. We did a lot of them and I know I was getting better by the end.
Back at Waukegan, we did four crosswind landings. Sandy had me try exaggerating my rudder use while in the pattern. That made me think more about it and I could really see how much difference it made. One thing that I noticed was that, while I might use enough rudder rolling into a bank, I was not using enough opposite rudder when neutralizing the ailerons to stop the bank increasing. I have to concentrate more on making sure my feet are moving every time my hands are. The actual landings were probably my best crosswind landings yet but, I still have to fight my tendency to neutralize the ailerons just before touchdown.