Sep 18 2012

Longest Cross-Country Flight Yet and Dinner at a Great Restaurant

Category: RamblingsDaniel @ 7:57 am

This past weekend I flew my longest cross-country flight yet, down to Bloomington, Illinois (KBMI).  It was also the best meal I’ve flown to, as well as taking up two new people in a small plane.  All-in-all, a great day of flying!

A good friend of my wife’s family opened up an Italian restaurant in Bloomington, Il Caffé Italia.  We were originally thinking of driving down for dinner one weekend, but I when I looked up driving directions, I noticed the restaurant was literally adjacent to the KBMI Airport!  When I mapped it out, it would be a 3hr 15min drive from our house, versus about 1hr 15min flying.  Needless-to-say, I knew we HAD to fly there!  Plus my wife’s Uncle had been itching to fly with me, and I knew this could help kill a few birds with one stone.

The weather was gorgeous this past Sunday: about 75° F, clear skies, and <10kt winds in all of Northern Illinois.  The four of us (me, my wife, my wife’s uncle, and his fiancé) flew down in my club’s trusty 2003 Cessna 172SP, and made it in 1hr 25min.  There was a bit of a head-wind which slowed us down just a tad.  My in-laws (who were driving down) were supposed to meet us at the airport to drive us over to the restaurant once we landed.  Much to my delight when we landed, the FBO (Image Air) insisted on letting us use their Crew Car.  I had always heard about free cars for pilots to use at smaller airports, but I never actually took advantage of one before.  I found it particularly funny when the regular guy before me at the airport was filling out paperwork to rent a car for money; and when I just walked in as a pilot they throw me keys to a car, no questions asked, no ID, no anything!   That was pretty sweet!  Image Air was a very nice facility and the staff was super friendly.  We then drove over to the restaurant in the crew car (about 90 second drive).

Dinner at the restaurant was awesome; super authentic Sicilian food.  We had all my favorites like Arancini, Linguini and Clams, Penne Bolognese, Cannoli and Lavazza Espresso.  Homemade Limoncello finished off an incredible meal with family and friends (which unfortunately I only got to taste a sip since I was flying).  Thank you to Frankie and Renell for a great afternoon!

The flight was back was a little quicker due to the tailwind, and we made it back in about 1hr 10min.  My Cessna virgins (Lino and Pam) loved the whole experience.  I can’t wait to take them up again.  As I said before, it was just an awesome day to fly.  Thank you to everyone to made it a great day (including my wife who came with, and it was over a year since we last flew together).

And if you are ever flying through KBMI, be sure to stop at Il Caffé Italia, it’s definitely worth the trip!  I logged 2.9 hours of Cross-Country PIC time  (126 nautical miles each way) this trip.

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Sep 10 2009

Longest Flight to Date and Back from a Blogging Hiatus

Category: Ramblings,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 5:30 am

It feels like forever since last I’ve posted on this blog, and I apologize for that!  Work has been very busy lately (which is good… job security), and although I’ve flown a handful of times, they’ve just been quick jaunts around the pattern or to Pilot Pete’s for a bite to eat.  However, this past weekend I went to the furthest airport I’ve flown to…. Sheboygan (KSBM)!  Granted, it’s only 76.9 nautical miles away, but it’s still technically the longest straight-line distance I’ve flown from Westosha.  My wife and I went up to visit  some friends who are living there for the summer.  This was actually my third attempt at this flight, the previous two tries we had been rained-out on, so this flight was due!Sheboygan

The flight up to Sheboygan went great.  I had a newer plane with autopilot and GPS, so I let the technology handle the mundane stuff.  I was diligent to listen to the traffic/tower frequency of every airport I flew over/around, to help keep the flight interesting.  Upon landing at KSBM, we picked up our friends flew back down the lake Michigan shore to see a few sites – their college Alma Mater (Concordia) for one.  We also flew over their house, which they thought was awesome and I let one of my friends fly the plane a bit, which he absolutely LOVED.  I tell ya, it’s great to share the joy of flying with others!

We parked the plane at FBO for the afternoon and had dinner with our friends and flew back at night.  The moon was nearly full, so it was rather bright as few travelled back to Westosha.  I was tempted to fly into Milwaukee’s Class C airport since I knew it wouldn’t be too busy at that time, but my wife was tired so we went straight back home.  All-in-all, a great day of flying.

I actually logged almost three hours of PIC time (2.9 hours to be exact, 1.0 hours of night time too)…one of my longest time and distance flights to date!  And since the airport was 50+nm away, all this counts as cross-country time!

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Jul 28 2008

Long Distance Solo Cross Country Requirement DONE

Category: Lessons,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 5:33 am

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.

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Jul 16 2008

First Night Cross Country Flight and Big Airport Landing

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 5:37 pm

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.Milwaukee General Mitchell Airport (MKE) 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.

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Jun 20 2008

First Solo Cross Country

Category: Lessons,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 5:00 pm

Yesterday I successfully completed my first solo cross country flight.  I decided to head into Illinois since I actually haven’t flown in my home state yet.  My plan took me from Westosha (5K6) to Poplar Grove (C77), up to Beloit (44C), over to my farthest point, Monroe (EFT), then back through Janesville (JVL) before arriving at Westosha to complete my journey.  The cross country took me 136 nautical miles around northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  I couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day, the weather was just picture perfect.

Out my WindowI’m happy to report I hit all my checkpoints right on time – my plan and the weather/wind reports were very accurate.  Here’s a link to the flightplan I created – you can see I also have a page with all the VOR and radio frequencies so I could find everything quickly and easily.  I also scanned my sectional and printed out the appropriate sections for ease of use during my flight.  (I still keep the whole map with me just in case, though).  I must admit, though, that flying in Illinois a bit west is a lot more challenging than around Westosha because there aren’t as many big lakes (a luxury of Wisconsin) to quickly navigate off of.  I managed, though, obviously!

While at Janesville I asked the tower to do 3 more full-stop landings, for more practice for me to work at a towered field (plus it’s a requirement for my license).  Those landings went great, and the tower guys over there were very accommodating.  Overall, my landings were very smooth (the weather was cooperating) and I had a great time!  You can see a pic I was able to snap with my cellphone coming back from Janesville.

I logged 2.4 hours of cross country solo flight time.  Next time out I’ll try to knock out the longer 150 nm+ cross country requirement and/or start working on night flying.

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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 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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Jun 02 2008

Intro to Cross Country Flight

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 11:00 pm

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to fly what I’ll call a mini cross country flight. My CFI and I didn’t have enough time to plan and fly a full cross country flight (greater than 50 nm away), but we didn’t want to waste the gorgeous weather. So, we decided to do a 5-leg circle around some of the local airports to give me a flavor of the techniques and skills necessary for a true cross-country flight. Our plan was to depart Westosha and head over to Racine, then East Troy, Lake Lawn, Grand Geneva, and back to Westosha. All in all, it would be over 80 nm round trip.

The trip was a lot of fun, and was really my first flight where I got to navigate to places other than Burlington (which is very close to Westosha). There was a fair amount of wind that day (as Todd even notes in his blog)…so the landings were very challening since all these airports didn’t have many choices that avoided some sort of crosswind. I was quite satisfied, though, that every landing was very smooth (even with the crosswinds). We used general visual navigation and dead reckoning techniques and didn’t need to utilize VOR radials for such short flights. We’ll utilize that sort of navigation on my next true cross country which should hopefully be next weekend.

I’m off to various parts of the country for work this week and although I’ll be in planes a lot, I won’t have the opportunity to pilot (unless United and the FAA change their rules). I can’t wait until next week!

This lesson I logged 1.7 hours.

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