Today's lesson was, by far, the most difficult, demanding, and fun. The wind gave me a break, sort of, and was kind of a lazy 6 knot wind all day until my lesson was supposed to begin. Then it kicked up to 8 knots with 13 knot gusts (1 knot = 1.15 mph). My instructor, Jimmy, debated whether or not he wanted to take me up for takeoffs and landings with gusting winds, and finally decided to do it.
When we got to the "runup area" the right magneto was running the engine very rough. If you recall from my very first attempt at a lesson, this problem is what scrubbed it. However, this is a different Cessna 152 (the "good" one) and I was not pleased at all at this turn of events. Jimmy, however, tried running the plane at 1700 rpm and leaned out to see if he could burn off the fouling on the plug - if that's what it was. Amazingly, it worked. So, we took off. I made four landing attempts.
Good approach, some adjustments to throttle to account for downdrafts. Gusts were not strong but I had to make a lot of control inputs. Slip to landing finally started to sink in. The landing was a little rough around the edges but pretty good overall. Jimmy had his hand on the yoke but says he didn't make any control inputs.
Approach was fine. Jimmy continued to give advice for using throttle to control the glide slope, which was "mushy" due to the wind. Slips are feeling good, and the landing was actually pretty nice. Again, Jimmy has hands on yoke but says he did not have to intervene.
Things get hairy. My nose was pointed off the runway a bit and we hit sideways on the left main gear, which abruptly straightened us. I salvaged the landing with a decent flair but we're going too fast. I missed the first taxiway and had to take the second one. Jimmy was hands off on that one. He says it wasn't a pretty landing but it was a safe one.
I nailed the approach to the WALL. I was slipping perfectly, nice glide slope, airspeed just right, lined up with the runway centerline. POOF! A downdraft shoots us straight down. "I have the controls" said Jimmy and he salvaged the landing in the blink of an eye.
I told Jimmy that today's lesson was the most nerve-wracking and fun time I've had in a long time. Landing an airplane is harder than it looks. A lot harder.
Friday we get to do some more!