I had a scare today but I did my best to handle the situation. It was one of those moments which required me to make a snap decision with whatever limited experience that I have. The current ATIS was deceptively mild compared to what I am seeing outside, but since there was a rare window of opportunity for me again, I went ahead.
I have never experienced such strong winds before, not even on my duals, but since it was more of a headwind, it would not present that much of a problem. Judging by the way the trees were swaying sideways, it was a full 18kts of headwind, definitely not funny. I did my checks methodically, taking care not to miss out on any item and making sure all my instruments were working properly. Everything was in order so I made the necessary radio calls and took off for circuits. The first circuit was uneventful and I took off again for a second one.
The upwind leg was really turbulent and I had to use extra effort to keep things under control, also, I had to keep my eye on the traffic in front of me. I spaced myself out on downwind and slowed myself down by deploying the 1st stage of flaps and throttling back a little. All was fine and I managed to maintain enough separation for a touch and go.
The conditions were challenging and it was all good until the end of the downwind leg. After deploying the 2nd stage of flaps, the voltage warning light suddenly illuminated. My immediate reaction was to add more power, the light should go off when I did that, but it didn’t. I added more power but the warning did not go away and I realized I had nearly exceeded the flap extension speed. To add to the drama, there was now a very strong tailwind on the downwind leg so I was blown ahead faster than usual and had to take away power. I turned for base a tad late to separate myself from the traffic which was slower than me. It was not enough,
At finals, I was still very high and the traffic in front of me was still very near me. In such cases, a go around is the right thing to do, but it was not wise given the current situation. I requested to land immediately, citing the problem and the control tower gave me priority clearance to land and made the traffic in front of me, go around instead.
The voltage warning light was illuminated all the way until shutdown and I reported the defect. All throughout, I kept asking myself if I did the right thing and after talking to a few instructors and fellow cadets, I arrived at a decision. I think for a beginner like me, I handled it pretty well. Thank God for that.