Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow
The title references hour 29, but this entry actually encompasses two lessons (though one was only about 30 mins and I decided to cut it short due to the windy conditions - a decision I later regretted).
I went out Sunday for a very short time. The wind was pretty stable as far as direction was concerned (right down the runway), but it was gusting from 4 to 17kts. After one time through the pattern after being blown around on the cross-wind and base legs, I told my CFI (I was flying with the CP that day) that I'd rather not continue in those conditions. I was already tense and I had told myself that, based off of feeling like I had gotten a handle on being "smooth" on the controls, I didn't want to lose that lesson by having to fight the controls in the windy conditions.
Afterwards, I regretted not sticking it out and learning from the conditions (after all, the CP was right there and it was an opportunity to fly in conditions that I won't be able to by myself for a while - oh well, chalk it up to lesson learned).
So, move forward to today (Wednesday). . . It's fairly calm when I'm driving out to the airport. Wind is from the West (250) at about 5 kts. Cool!
I get in and grab the log book to do my pre-flight. Lo and behold, after about 5 mins into my preflight, the wind starts blowing significantly harder. Oh well, it's consistent so, no big deal.
After my pre-flight is completed, it's now gusting pretty good. The wind isn't consistently as high as on Sunday, but the gust spread feels larger (I don't think it actually was though - a quick check of the AWOS afterwards indicated 4kts gusting to 14kts). The worst part was that, after we got up and started going through the pattern, the wind was shifting between northwest to almost a due north cross-wind (our runway is 5/23) and back.
This time, I did the right thing. I kept with the lesson even though I was very tense. We were getting blown around quite a bit but, I did o.k. aloft (didn't chase airspeed and just tried to keep level attitude). Hovering and the approaches were not as solid (several of my clearing turns and hovering periods were just down-right goofy). However, I stuck with it and ended up getting to do a couple of normal and steep approaches, low-rotor RPM recovery, settling with power recovery, and an auto at the end as we were coming in to end the lesson.
All in all, I'm much happier with my decision today to gut it out and learn from the experience rather than quitting like a sissy <_ .>
However, that doesn't stop me from hoping like all get out that tomorrow a.m. (my next flight) has slightly less volatile conditions.