So I knocked out one of the larger solo flight requirements of my flight training this past weekend – the 150nm solo cross country. More specifically, the requirements state:
(ii) One solo cross-country flight of at least 150 nautical miles total
distance, with full-stop landings at a minimum of three points, and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations;
I went from Westosha up to Dodge County (UNU), down to Janesville (JVL), back through Campbell (C81) before returning to Westosha. I did full-stops at all 4 airports; all-in-all a 168 NM round trip (see my flight plan here). Although I had been to all the airports before, this was my first time to Campbell since my maiden Discover Flight flight. It was really cool for me to fly into the airport where I really started this journey only a few months ago! The flight itself went off without a hitch. The sky was a bit hazy (actually the most hazy I’ve ever flown in)…but still >6SM visibility. In past cross-countries I was able to spot my waypoints and destinations usually 10SM out. This time I had to rely on my calculations and pilotage a little more. But, again, everything went smoothly.
This flight I logged 2.4 hours of solo cross country flight.
This past Monday night I had an extended night flight – completing my 3-hour night flight requirement as well as a night cross country flight. My plan was to take us from Westosha up to Hartford (HXF) – 50.2 nautical miles away – and back. Since it was night and didn’t have the luxury of a lot of land-based visual landmarks, I decided to fly through the Burlington VOR and use it as my main navigational aid. The flight up to Hartford went very well, hitting my checkpoints right on time and landing at Hartford with no problems.
On the way back, we were making great time and my CFI asked if I felt comfortable making a detour to log more night flying time since he was apparently very confident I could navigate and pilot at night. (This was were my flight got very interesting and fun.) I, of course, said “sure!” and we decided to fly into Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport (MKE)! I was super excited as this would be the largest airport I’ve flown into. I called Milwaukee approach and had them vector me in for a landing. They gave me the appropriate headings and altitude and I proceeded into the large Class C airport. Upon getting closer (and listening to the other traffic/planes landing/taking off from Milwaukee) I realized air traffic control was holding a FedEx 747 for me to land. It felt pretty cool knowing that big jet was waiting on me and my little Cessna! The runway (Runway 19R in this case) was absolutely huge (almost 10,000 feet long)! Needless-to-say, we had clearance for a touch-and-go and had TONS of room to complete it (probably 3 times if I wanted)!
After Milwaukee, we skipped over to Kenosha (ENW) to kill more time. I’ve flown into Kenosha before during the day, but at this time of night the tower is closed so it was basically a huge uncontrolled airport! It was weird to be putzing around the fairly large airport (especially compared to Westosha) with NOBODY around.
After Kenosha, my CFI asked if I wanted to land “somewhere cool”….and as always, I had to say yes. He said we were heading over to Camp Lake (49C) which has no landing lights, only a reflector system. The airport would be impossible to find at night if my CFI hadn’t been there tons of times of before. He pointed me in the perfect direction and eventually I saw a glimmer of one of the runway reflectors from my landing lights. I plopped the plane down on the turf runway and even saw a coyote run off as we came to a stop. It was VERY odd but cool to land at such a seemingly remote/dark airport…kinda scary even! After turning around and taking off again, we knew I had enough time to finally head back to Westosha. The last landing of the night went great and it was the end of a very fun night!
This lesson/flight I logged 2.2 hours of night flight time.
This past Thursday (July 3rd) was my Dad’s birthday. Rather than get him another shirt, tie, or tool he’ll never use, I decided to take him for a flight – the last time he was in a small aircraft was over 30 years ago! I had to get more simulated instrument time in anyway, so it helped make for a nice smooth flight for my father. Although I would be flying with my instructor in the right seat (obviously, I don’t have my license yet), my Dad said he had great views from the back seat. Actually, this was my first time piloting a C-172 as well (which I wanted to get a few hours logged before I finished my training). So, all-in-all, this was the perfect opportunity to take my Dad up.
The flight went very smoothly. I was a bit more nervous than usual since I’ve never taken anyone flying besides me or my instructor…but the plane and the weather cooperated. The sky was beautiful (see some pictures), and we even got to fly over my house. I could feel that the 172 had more power, especially during takeoff. The added weight and power helped smooth things out a bit as well during cruise. However, during my final pattern work at the end of the lesson, I could feel that the heavier plane reacts a bit more sluggishly – nothing big, but definitely noticeable. It took me 1 landing to get used to it, but by the 2nd (and last) landing of the day, I felt comfortable flying the 172’s the Westosha flying club owns. I’ll still be mostly piloting the 152 (no need to pay extra for empty seats) for the rest of my training, though. But, I can’t wait to take my Dad back up just me and him!
I was super proud to have flown well for my Dad, and really glad he had a great time. Happy Birthday! This lesson I logged 1.0 hours of total flight time, 0.7 hours of simluated instrument.
Yesterday I had my first taste of flying at night. It was the coolest/freakiest flying I’ve done so far! My CFI and I started the flight around dusk so I could also get in some more “hood time” and practice IFR flight in case I ever got stuck in the clouds (plus there’s that 3 hour simulated instrument requirement too). After taking off from Westosha, I slapped on the visor and proceeded to putz around by the instruments for half and hour. By that time, it was night and my CFI had me approaching Galt Airport (10C) in Wonder Lake, Illinois. Re-adjusting after hood time takes me a little time to catch my bearings again, but now that I had to reorder myself at night was especially challenging. I was surprised at how close everything seems at night, the lake (Lake Michigan) seemed only a few miles away (when in actuality it was more like 30). My CFI said to run the landings “cookbook style” and I hit my usual checkpoints for power, pitch, and flaps for the base leg and final. The runway snuck up on me pretty quick right at the end, but I was able to flare enough to make actually a quite soft landing.
We worked the pattern at Galt 7 more times before heading back to Westosha. Westosha is replacing it’s runway lights later this summer, and thank God for that! Apparently some of the underground wiring is faulty and only 3 of the 14 runway works were operational. Needless-to-say, it was crazy fun/hard to land really only seeing the 30 feet in front of my landing lights. I managed though and got in 8 total landings at night. I’ll finish the last 2 required landings during my dual night cross country soon.
Flying at night was definitely an experience, something very beautiful and peaceful about the whole thing. I can’t wait for the cross country! This lesson I logged 1.6 hours of total flight time, 0.5 with simulated instrument flight.