In addition to some much needed free time, I've also finally found an instructor that really clicks for me. He's very senior (10,000+ hours in the cockpit) and his teaching style matches my needs extremely well. He is extremely approachable and has a tendency to emphasize the why more than the what, which has made flying a joy and much less stressful than my first several flights during the winter. I flew once with this new CFI before my hiatus and I've been looking forward to getting back in the cockpit with him. That proved more challenging than I thought it would be, as he is very highly regarded and, as a consequence, has an extremely full dance card. I've managed to work my way onto his schedule though and with any luck I'll be going out about once a week for the remainder of the summer.
My most recent flight started at 7AM this past Friday morning--a wonderful way to jump start the long holiday weekend. The morning was clear and calm and the flight went really well. I was worried about being rusty, but things came back pretty quickly. For the first time, I completed most of the calls to the ground and tower controllers myself ("Hanscom Ground, this is Warrior 2-6-3-November-Delta on the West Ramp, requesting taxi to Runway 2-Niner, with Victor"), which was very satisfying, if a bit intimidating. My unaffected Chuck Yeager drawl still requires some work.
After performing my first (mildly) cross-wind takeoff, we headed out from Hanscom to the practice area to work on slow flight and some basic climbing and descending maneuvers. Then we headed up the Merrimack river towards Lowell, working on power off and power on stalls. Finally, we turned back towards Boston and I radioed an approach request back to Hanscom tower. After being cleared, we entered the traffic patter and, with some relaxed instruction from my CFI, I landed on runway 29, completely under my own control. I wouldn't say it was the smoothest landing (we might have ended up back in the air, momentarily), but it was a successful one for all intents and purposes. A great flight overall.
My next lesson is bright and early Monday AM - can't wait!