I realize I probably write more about the stressed out freaky flights than the cool smooth ones. Tonight's was cool and smooth. Well, except for random 10 knot wind gusts on top of the 15 or so knots from the south... that made it not as smooth, but it gave me something to experiment with. We honestly hadn't had crazy wind in my last few flights, despite this being Kansas and all, so I'd been reading all this theory about groundspeed and track angles but hadn't applied it yet. To fly straight, you point the airplane at an angle. If you point it straight, the crosswind makes you drift. So you "crab" into it. This is really fascinating in a little airplane, and when you figure out an angle that works it's very satisfying. A lot of flying really is about feelings and sensations... it's impractical to install windsocks every mile interval out in the real world so we can get out protractors and calculate drift, but you can sense when you've got things going the right direction, and that's even better.
This was on top of other good things... my instructor said I did a great job finding the right speed and angle when we climbed out after takeoff, I got to try out flying under a hood that obscures vision so you can't see outside and it's sort of neat and video-gamey (tough, but a fun challenge).
And even though we landed in a stiff wind that required some angle/rudder maneuvers that I don't have down yet, I felt relaxed about the whole thing.
So I'm monitoring these trends... one scary flight, one good one, one scary flight, two good ones, one scary flight... good from here on out, I hope. Oh who am I kidding no one ever has all good ones. But the bad ones are less bad, and the good ones are getting better.