Too windy for solo today – gusting 20 knots.

I want to hone my stick and rudder skills – so we went up and started on commercial maneuvers because I’m a great believer that when you try harder stuff and then go back to the easier stuff – it is better. So we started on Lazy 8’s and Chandelles. We eventually ended up at 10,000ft over Little Compton and Providence Flight Following actually called up to see if we were going any higher – if we were we would get handed off to Boston. We started down for Block Island. The exercise was to end up at 5,000ft over the airfield and then imitate an engine failure and get her down. We had a long slow descent to Block Island and I called down on the CTAF to announce our intentions, briefly orbiting while a couple of aircraft from Long Island arrived. Faked the engine failure and ran the restart drill only to get the usual “didn’t start” from the instructor. Simulated the mayday call and simulated squawking 7700 on my radar transponder to get my distress to show on air traffic control radar.

The wind was westerly 50 knots at 5,000ft so the spiral down (another commercial maneuver) was going to have to be egg shaped on each circle to stay over the field. Called down the intentions and started down. I got set up 2000ft over the end of the runway and very close in. I really didn’t want to loop around again in case the wind blew me away so I very aggressively side slipped some S turns and got over the runway. Simulated emergency drill for the fuel cut off, smacked in the flaps, and set her down, bounced slightly but got down. Hard on the brakes and stopped before I ran out of runway. Instructor commented I should have used the engine to smooth out the bounce. I looked at him – I realized I had drilled it for very real in my mind – I didn’t have an engine – even though I actually did.

In for breakfast at the great diner on the field. Out and preflight and then waited while a Britten Norman Islander (like I used to parachute from in 1989) arrived. The island commuter travel hop between Westerly, Block Island and Nantucket. Then it left and I got a couple of landings in – in the pattern – but it was wickedly gusty and just asking for trouble if we made a slight mistake – so we climbed out and started back for Newport. But it was gusty there too – so back to Providence for pattern work. As we were vectored in – we asked for touch and goes. But on our first run around the pattern we were bucketing around in the turbulence. I called down for a full stop and my instructor thanked me for being nice to his greasy breakfast. A stiff crosswind landing where I had to use full rudder to kick her straight just before touch down.

At the debrief – “Come prepared to do a cross county every lesson ongoing” – Instructor no longer worried about my landings – time to let me fly my solo cross countries. If I come prepared for every lesson – I will get them in when the weather permits.

I am happy!

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