Jun 14 2008

First Cross Country (Dual)

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 9:39 am

I had my first cross country (with instructor) yesterday and it was a BLAST!  My plan had us doing a large loop to the north and west of Westosha – hitting Dodge County (UNU), Madison (MSN), Janesville (JVL), and back to Westosha (5K6).  Being a computer-guy, I used a lot of the free online and offline software tools available to help me plan my flight with ease.  My favorites are SkyVector.com and CSC DUATS Golden Eagle flight prep software.  They are both free and you get most of the hard calculations of flight planning out the way.  Furthermore, the Golden Eagle software pulls the weather and winds aloft from DUATS, so it’ll calculate EVERYTHING for you if you want.  This being my first cross-country, though, and since I’d have my CFI double-checking everything, I went the old-fashioned route and did the calculations by hand (trusty E6B) and then put everything in an Excel spreadsheet so I could keep all the pertinent information handy and printed neatly.Cross Country Flight Plan

The flight itself went very smooth.  The weather looked threatening, but my weather briefer said nothing should really be an issue…and he was right.  The long leg (59.0 nm) to Dodge County was a little cloudy along the way for the first half, so we kept a little lower than anticipated (2500 ft.)  Other than that, though, the afternoon was gorgeous!  I was hitting all my checkpoints +/- 40 seconds of my calculations, which I was very happy with.  The landing at Dodge County went perfect, I probably could have went touch-and-go, but I felt I had to full stop just to say I really was somewhere for more than 30 seconds.  I should mention that my plane doesn’t have any GPS or LORAN navigation systems, just VOR radios.  So, my pilotage was dead reckoning and VOR tracking (the good ‘ole stuff)!

After Dodge, we headed over to Madison (MSN).  I was very excited about this leg because this was the first “big” airport I would be flying into.  I’d get to really test my radio skills and well, I think it’s just cool to land at the same airport United jets fly into!  Sure enough, approaching along the same time with me was a Skywest jet.  It felt very cool to be sharing the air and radiowaves with the big boys (even though honestly I hate flying as a passenger on those commuter jets).  Apparently our controller was in training as well, since during a few calls he had to repeat himself and even his instructor clarified a direction from him.  My CFI thought it was hilarious. 

After Madison we headed over to Janesville for another towered approach (which I wanted more experience with).  That went very smoothly again and before I knew it I was touching-and-going and back to Westosha.  The last leg to Westosha was quick and back under the overcast sky, almost a little depressing.  But, upon landing, I knew I had really GONE to places!  Plus, this was really the first flight where I got to enjoy flying the plane and navigating, less worrying about time critical manuevers and such….it was liberating and like I said before, a BLAST!

This flight I logged 2.4 hours of dual cross-country flight.  My next flight will probably be my first solo cross-country…where to go, where to go!?

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One Response to “First Cross Country (Dual)”

  1. Todd says:

    It is fun to start actually flying to someplace other than the local practice area. Have you picked your solo cross country location yet?

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