Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cleared For Solo XC

I'm not sure how but I managed to get to the airport 20 minutes early. Anticipation? Excited? Maybe a little of both, but then again maybe it was light traffic at that hour......nahhhhh...it was the anticipation!

Flight plan in hand we discussed the plan of attack for flight following. My CFI advised that in the North East it's a must, but one should take advantage of the services provided on flights. I was ready, a notepad with all approach Freq's and as always ATIS, TWR, GND and Unicom if needed.

Preflight complete we saddled up and headed out. A low wing "Delta Whiskey" was ahead of us at the run up area so we tucked in and went through the checklist. DW was waiting for clearance so he asked us to go on by, we acknowledged and headed out. Departing 27 at Brandywine I could not believe how clear it was.....I could not help but ask, out loud, why did I wait so long to learn to fly? Back in the cockpit I notify PHL Approach, comply with Squawk and altitude change/hold for traffic then proceed, once cleared, to 6500 on course to HZL.

My first checkpoint was Pottstown Muni. N47. I did not see it at first but I did have a perfect view of the cooling towers to my 3 o’clock. I dipped the wing to my right and there was N47 pretty as can be. On to Kutztown N31, with my course on track and pretty close to time. I did not see Kutztown (perfect time for that glass bottom aircraft) since I was over top, but had a handle on my body of water land mark to my 9 o’clock. My CFI had me initiate 10* bank to my left to slowly circle and locate the airport. Ahhhh…..airport hiding under me but now located, I then realign and continue on course. My next checkpoint is at the foot of Blue Mountain, Leasers Lake. I’m good to go so onward to HZL. Did I mention how clear it was? HZL is in view as I announce my fly over the field and reposition for a 45* entry to r/w 28. Once past HZL north to south you fly in to the valley, it was bumpy there and I made for a shallow turn trying to get to pattern ALT prior to entry. I hit 2600, as I turn to downwind but did not account for the wind blowing me towards the runway. Bill asked how do we look, I think to myself, like crap, as he directs me to break it off and retry, this time giving myself more room and trim to stabilize. I enter the downwind followed by base and final with a good landing. We make a quick stop and review my flight plan to ABE. My CFI questions “how long to TOC”? um…..11 minutes to 5500 I respond. Really, he says, Best check that again, what’s the ALT here at HZL? GRRRrrrrrr, 1600 so that would only be a climb out of 3900. He spares me the recalc but asks for approximate numbers which I provide. Satisfied, we saddle up for the ABE leg. …..geezzz I feel like a dope!

HZL to ABE starts off fine as I pass my new TOC checkpoint. Time looks good as I make way for Arner Memorial. I have the big ol’ lake to my 9 o’clock so I’m on target but again no airport. I immediately dip each wing then with a slight bank circle to find once again that elusive airport under me. I AM going to design a glass bottom aircraft . Ok back on track heading to ABE I call up Allentown Approach and announce position, ALT, intentions and ATIS report. A quick response has me number two for landing behind a Grumman. Looking for traffic but no contact, Allentown Approach provides vectors and ALT for runway 6. About three miles out I get the cleared to land and I set it down long and slow, almost a bit to flat. With a quick taxi and request for Advisories for a VFR return to Brandywine I am once again off and flying.

Almost home, My CFI instructs me that (hypothetical situation) Brandywine is closed you must divert to Reading (RDG). Take me through it he says, I glance at my sectional and Bill says hold over your known point, make it easy on yourself. I go into a gentle turn over green lake reservoir and work the numbers. I figure on a course of 270*, and about 15 miles. That should be about an 8 to 10 minutes max. Now for the radio numbers, checking the sectional again I have TWR, GRD, ATIS but no Approach. Bill asks where do you find it, I respond in the AFD, where is it you ask? In my flight bag on the back seat. He points to the pocket along my left leg and said ALWAYS in the pocket along with the wiz wheel. Lesson learned.

We get back on track and head to Brandywine. Pretty much uneventful with a fly over the field (announced) above pattern ALT followed by a nice turn out and reposition for a 45* to r/w 27 downwind. I had an ok landing, but overall a GREAT trip!!

We closed with a review that needs me to concentrate on a few things:

Pattern entry (the reposition portion) and holding ALT a bit closer.
Radio work was good, keep it up!
Landings practice on nose up

I was then cleared to solo XC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to start planning!!!!!


Mr. T said...

Way to go man! There are always going to be glitches. Sounds like you've got a good sized plane to work with too! I'm stuck in a Diamond Katana (DA20). The thing is so small that the side pockets barely fit the map and whiz wheel. I gotta keep my Flight Supplement and POH on the seat next to me. Happy training!

Gary Mascelli said...

Flying the 172