The weather hasn’t cooperated lately but today things seem to look good. I had my instructor scheduled for our weekly dual session but she suggested that I go ahead and fly my first real cross country solo. I have been trying to get it in but the days I have scheduled have been less than ideal. Today I’ve got that pilot feeling!
I performed all of the navigation calculations and headed to the airfield. Now I have to say, I haven’t flown in over a week and before that it was a couple of weeks, I didn’t have any butterflies. I was focused on the mission. When I arrived, my instructor looked over my calculations and my plan, listened in while I got the weather/filed my flight plan and we quickly discussed some procedures. After this, she ushered me off reminding me that I need to be back before the next reservation and also to remember to close my flight plan upon my return.
I walked out to my machine looking it up and down as I walk, making sure that nothing obvious is out of place. I make a thorough pre-flight to make sure she is ready to carry me aloft. Everything checks out but there is one last thing. Bathroom break. It wasn’t nerves, I don’t think, just nature calling. As I said before, I was pretty relaxed all morning.
Back in the cockpit, I was ready to go. Started the airplane, went through the run-up procedures and taxi’d to the runway.
My Turn so I taxi onto the runway. Heels to the floor, throttle full, green green green, airspeed alive, rotate and away I go floating above the earth on a cushion of air.
Once on course, I call up flight service to open my flight plan. Next, Fayetteville approach for my flight following. I am making radio calls, climbing to cruise altitude, beginning my navigation way-points and completely at ease. It wasn’t too long ago that I saturated my workload capability and had to have my instructor help out.
Once I reached my cruising altitude, trimmed out and performed my cruise checklist. At this point I realized that the plane was trimmed and flying hands off and the air was glass smooth. I was able to sit back and enjoy the rest of the flight to my round robin destination.
Since it was so smooth and everything was under control. I broke out the camera for some pictures!
Once I landed, I taxi’d over to the fuel pumps and filled up. This is the first time that I have fueled the airplane unassisted. Even though, there was a gentleman on site that made sure that I didn’t do anything wrong. We had a nice chat. The aviation community is good like that. Part of flying is just going to little out of the way areas and meeting others in the aviation community.
On my way back, I was cruising a thousand feet lower and was rewarded with a shear layer. This means that I am paying for my smooth trip down by a really bumpy trip back. On the way I heard military traffic over the approach comms. Looks like Pope was running some maneuvers with Jets in the restricted area 30 miles east of my track. It was pretty cool, you could definitely tell the fighter jocks because their masks were causing a muffled affect on their audio.
I returned to TTA and made one of my better landings. I really think the short and soft field work improved my landings. I landed around the time that I predicted and plenty of time for the next reservation. I chalk that up to good planning! Haha
It was a good day. Mostly because even with the cockpit management and workload. I felt completely at ease. I felt under control. I felt like a pilot!