2nd Solo Cross Country

1:36 PM Friday, October 29, 2010

Today was my second solo cross country. I was really itching to go flying today since it has been over a week since I had been up. I had all my planning done and my course mapped out. I met with Tim quickly so he could sign-off on everything then I headed out to pre-flight.

Oh my goodness it was cold today. The maintenance guys had the plane plugged in, which I was thankful for. I hopped in and did flipped her master switch, I see that I don't have much fuel, so I will have to get her filled before I leave. I do the rest of my pre-flight without issue. Maintenance pulls the plane out of the hanger and I ask him to fill her up. Now I am gassed up, preflighted and ready to go. Yay! Weather has me on either 33 or 21 (wind sock says calm which is 15) I pick 33 since it will put me pretty close the heading I want to fly anyway.

Take-off is smooth and I am thankful for the smooth air after last weeks bumpy ride. Level at 1700ft while I cruise under QC airspace then climb for 4500ft and settle in for my ride to CR. Tim said that I could do a touch and go at CR, which is great because it will save me quite a bit of time (and money). I am originally cleared for a right base for 31, and later changed to a straight in for 27. I make an excellent landing and take back off. Eventually I am cleared to turn course for burlington. I am advised of traffic (which I never see, I think they were several thousand feet below me).

I am well on my way to burlington and I am seeing all my checkpoints, I am right on course. Then I do something stupid (I guess I have one of these moments every flight) I second guess my position. I turn and head to the town I just passed to check out the name on the water tower to see if I am right, it was Wappollo Iowa, I am exactly where I thought I was, oh well, I get back on course and head into burlington. Weather says they winds are calm, so I head for calm wind runway 36. I enter a left downwind as someone is radioing burlington traffic for 18 (which is same runway as me, opposite direction). He is a ways out and I let him know that I will make a full stop so he can land on 18. I wanted to reset my dg on the runway anyway, so it worked out ok.

I have a good landing, and a good take-off (after the other plane lands of course) and I am headed back to Davenport. I am diligent about keeping track of where I am on the map this time and it goes very well. I radio Quad Cities that I will be passing through. I am cleared and head for davenport.

Davenport landing is just as good as the rest of them today. Again I have traffic around but I extend my downwind and let him land before heading in. Park it, breath, gather my stuff, breath, go in and pay for my excursion. Today I am proud, I had good landings, I navigated well (and learned I don't need to second guess myself) and made it to a new airport and back in one piece. I feel like I could conquer the world today, but I might settle for a nap :)

Hours today: 2.6
Total Hours: 46.1

Solo Cross Country

2:39 PM Thursday, October 21, 2010

Well today marked another milestone in my piloting career. I made my first solo cross country trek. Last night I made the plans for a trip from Davenport to Cedar Rapids to Dubuque and back to Davenport. The weather was going to be pretty nice except for quite windy. I did some quick calculating and I was pretty sure I could handle the winds that were predicted.

I met with Tim this morning to go over my plan and have him sign-off on my cross country. Everything I had planned looked good. He signed me off and out I went to preflight. During preflight I noticed the plane needed some oil so after finishing the rest of preflight I went back in to get oil. One of the mechanics was nice enough to put it in for me (I think this is because I am a girl, but oh well, maybe someday I will let on that I know more about engines than they probably think). Oiled up, preflighted, papers organized, time to start her up. It was pretty cold today so I primed it a couple times before trying to start her. She stuttered and quit, so I primed again and tried, this time she just wouldn't kick over. I primed a few more stokes and got a kick but she wouldn't stay started. One more time (now I am praying that it starts because that is just embarrassing to not be able to get it started) this time she kicked and stayed started (thank god!). Weather was favoring 33, which sucks because it is a long taxi to get out there, so off I went.

I took off on 33 and made a slight turn to head out to the NW. I leveled at 1700 feet to stay out of QC airspace then I climbed up to 4500 for the ride to Cedar Rapids. I tuned into the CR VORTAC and it had me off of course a bit, so I turned to track on that. At this point I decided my DG was not right (although I specifically set it while I was sitting on 33 ready to take off) not sure what happened here but that is ok, I will fly via the vortac and reset my dg based on the compass. I hit my landmarks and saw tiptop off the nose of the aircraft. When I reached Tipton I radioed CR approach. They gave me a left base for 27. Before I had left, Tim told me to request 31 if they gave me 27, so I radioed back and asked for 31. They cleared me for a right base for 31. I crawled along (winds were right at my head) until I got to CR airport. Tower cleared me to land. I had a pretty good landing and then a stupid mistake, I took a right on taxiway alpha when I should have taken a left. Ground had me turn around and go back, no big deal, but kind of stupid. I parked and gathered my thoughts. Got my papers organized and called up for a VFR clearance to Dubuque. All cleared, taxi to 27. When I got to 27, they held me for a delta jet and a Cessna that were landing. Since I was just sitting there, I snapped a quick picture. When I was finally cleared, I got on the runway, reset my DG, and took off.

Yay, off the ground at CR and headed for dubuque. CR departure had me turn to 040 and climb for my altitude of 3500. Shortly after I reached altitude, they cleared me to proceed on course, which was 045 so not much change. I was looking for my first landmark (Marion Airport) and I couldn't find it, I was looking, and looking, and I was thinking dang I should be right over it, I look down and wouldn't you know, I was right over it. Continuing on course to Dubuque, not much else happened. It was pretty dang bumpy at 3500ft today and I was wishing that I had picked 5500ft to head to Dubuque, but I made it work. Right about over Cascade Cedar Rapids terminated Radar Contact, I got the weather for Dubuque and radioed that I was about 10 to the SW. They gave me a straight in for 36 report 3 miles south. I was out a bit to the west so I turned so I would be able to do a straight in for 36. I reported 3 miles south, and was cleared for 36. About 2 miles out, tower asked me to do a Land and hold short of 31 (a citation who was much faster than me was landing via 31). As a student I am not allowed to participate in land and hold shorts so I declined and was given the instruction to do a 360 degree turn to the left. I had never been asked that before, but I did it anyway (I had read about it). I went ahead and did the 360 and got back on course for a landing on 36, this time I was cleared and was actually allowed to land. The landing was decent, not my best, but I wasn't ashamed of it. Ground had me taxi via charlie and hold short of 31 for another plane coming in. Once cleared I went to the FBO and parked. I should have taken another picture but I forgot. I texted Tim since he requested notification when I was at each airport. I called up and got clearance to taxi via alpha to runway 31 for takeoff.

Take-off on 31 cleared for a south departure from the area. On my way back home! Bittersweet at this point because I am on my last leg which is exciting, but sad that I am almost done for the day. I hit my checkpoints along the way. Dubuque terminates radar contact and I get the weather for Davenport. 330@12, I can handle that, pretty much straight down the runway. I radio that I am 10 to the north inbound for landing runway 33. I decide to go out and around to enter the downwind for 33 (instead of crossing midfield, I like the long downwind set-up). I line up and all looks good, however, I flared a bit to high and ended up dropping in, which makes me angry because my other landings for the day were pretty good.

I taxi in and park. A nice big smile on my face as I realize I just did it all on my own. Air Traffic Control was easy today, navigation went smooth, tank-off and landings were decent. Well, son-of-a-bitch, it looks like I am a pilot! I went in and talked to Tim a bit about how things went. I had questions about the 360 degree turn that Dubuque had me do so we discussed that a bit and that was about all. Next up I get to pick where I want to go, I will have to take a look at the maps tonight and decide.

WooHoo!!! I am so excited, I am almost there!

Hours logged today 2.6.

Night Cross Country

1:24 PM Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday night I arrived at the airport with my flight plan in hand and I was ready to go flying. The plan was to fly direct from davenport to Peoria and Peoria to Whiteside Co. Tim said we were going to deviate from that plan (training exercise) and fly from Peoria to Whiteside Co. via the Bradford VOR. I redrew my path and marked a couple of landmarks, wrote down the VOR frequency and now I was ready to go.

I headed out to do my preflight and had a little bit of trouble orienting myself in the dark plane and juggling the flashlight along with my checklist and fuel tester, but I eventually worked it all out.

Alright, ready to go. Taxi and Take-off went fine. Once we were up we called Moline to set-up flight tracking and we were cleared through QC airspace. Due to wind direction we were literally booking it to Peoria. Our calculated ground speed was around 130kts (which is fast for our little Cherokee). We came up on Peoria airspace quite quickly.

Moline handed us off to Peoria approach. We listened to the weather (which was extremely staticy, in fact, Tim had to give me the phonetic code because I couldn't understand it). I called up Peoria and got a clearance for a touch and go with departure to the north via the Bradford VOR.

As we were coming in, I had a very hard time identifying the airport and then once I had it, I had a hard time orienting myself with the runway. Thus I had a shitty landing and was uncomfortable all around. Oh well, on to the next destination. We were given a departure heading of 360 so we turned to that and headed on our way.

We dialed in the Bradford VOR and we tracked to it. The wind was pretty much right at our head so we were crawling. My calculated ground speed was about 88. I think we might have been a little bit slower, maybe around 85ish. We flew along for what seemed like forever (which i was ok with) and we finally passed the VOR. I set it to track out on the 355 radial (which would take us right to whiteside) and intercepted the radial. When we finally made it to whiteside, there was another plane working on night landings so we picked up the 07 runway that they were using. I crossed midfield but I didn't account for the wind and ended up getting blown into the runway on my downwind which made my base leg non-existent. My landing wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't great.

We took off and departed to the west and started climbing to 6500ft. I had planned for 4500 but Tim said I could go higher if I wanted. Of course I did!

By the time the little Cherokee got to 6500 it was pretty much time to start descending so we could get below quad cities airspace before we got to davenport. I enriched the mixture and started the descent. We were descending at about 800ft a minute so we reached altitude in plenty of time to get below Quad Cities Airspace. We were flying in from the east so we were pretty much coming in on a right base for 33 (which is the runway we wanted). However, traffic is left at Davenport. It was pretty late and there had been absolutely no radio traffic the entire ride in, so Tim said I could do a right base if I wanted. I did, I needed some practice with my right traffic anyway. Made right base, turned final, lined up, and had a pretty decent landing, one I am pretty proud of anyway.

All in all, I think it went well. Time said he was confident in my night flying abilities that if they did solo cross country's at Carver he would have no problem sending me on one. That made me feel pretty good. We have one more together cross country, we are doing a short one to Cedar Rapids, Moline and back. Then it will be time to do some solo work. I am really excited to get up there by myself and actually get to visit other airports. I have to go into at least one class C airport but the other I get to pick. Hmmm, where should I go.

Where I've Landed

9:47 AM Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I thought I should start this now while the list is small. I think it will be interesting to keep track of all the airports I have visited.

View Airports Visited in a larger map

First Cross Country Flight

2:34 PM Monday, October 11, 2010

This morning I got up bright and early to finish my preparations for my very first cross country flight. The plan was to fly from Davenport (KDVN) to Cedar Rapids (CID) to Dubuque (DBQ). I had done the flight plan with Tim on Friday, but needed to adjust for today's winds. I check duats when I got up and it had the forcast for the 12th, which is tomorrow so I was confused as to what to use. So I finished up printing airport maps and going over my other plans. Then I packed up and went to the airport to ask Tim what I should use. When I got there Tim was up with another student so I continued going over my stuff. When Tim got back he showed me what to use and I readjusted my numbers. Everything looked good to Tim so I went ahead and preflighted and then we were off.

First checkpoint was the walcott truckstop, also known as the worlds largest truckstop, not so large from 4500ft by the way. I almost missed this checkpoint because I was thinking it would take longer to get there. This was a good thing for me to note because all the check points come up pretty fast. I had to be diligent for the rest of the flight.

First stop, Cedar Rapids. When we were over Tipton, I radioed for airspace clearance and was given a squawk and cleared to enter for a straight in for 27. This was my first straight in approach and it honestly felt like we were moving very slow and taking forever to get to the runway, but I was on my airspeeds and lined up with the center line so I felt good. The landing went really well, and I held my own with Air Traffic Control. I felt quite good when we got to the ground and parked. Clearance, Taxi, Take-off and departure we well.

Next Stop, Dubuque. We hit our checkpoints and were flying at 5500 for Dubuque. It was pretty hazy up there, so I had a bit of trouble finding a couple of check points, but Tim made sure I knew how to identify them based on roads and surrounding landmarks. Headed into the airport, I knew where it should be but I couldn't see the runways. Then all of a sudden it was there. I was cleared for a right base for runway 18. Right traffic patterns have me a bit off my game lately since I have only flown them twice, but I was sure I could handle that fine. I almost made a huge mistake though, I turned base to line up with 13 instead of 18. Tim warned me and I got turned back to line up with 18. The runway seemed to come up a bit quicker than I was expecting and I got a bounce, but it wasn't a terrible landing. We taxied to the FBO and parked. Got a VFR clearance to head south to Davenport, and taxi and take-off went as expected.

On this leg, I picked a couple of check points that were not good choices, I am glad this happened though, because now I know what is a good check point and what isn't. It was a pretty easy flight back to Davenport and I enjoyed it a lot. I did have a bit of trouble holding my altitude on this leg, I think I let myself get to complacent behind the yoke knowing that I was headed somewhere familiar.

Back at Davenport, I had a pretty decent landing. I had a bit of a balloon but I held it firm and we decended for a nice soft landing. My crosswind correction was lacking slightly, but it was pretty decent.

All in all, I really enjoyed my first cross country. I actually felt like a pilot today. All my other times up, my workload was so heavy and my concentration was so focused on the manuevers or the touch and gos that I didn't really have time to enjoy the fact that I was flying a plane. I am a pilot! I enjoyed today very much!

Next up, night cross country, Davenport > Peoria > Whiteside Co > Davenport. Very excited!!

Air Traffic Control

2:59 PM Thursday, October 7, 2010

Up until today I have done all my training at Davenport Municipal which is a Class E airport which means it is not towered. Everything is self-announce via the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF). However, today we flew over to Moline International Airport which is a Class C airport and has a tower. Tim and I worked on what we would say to ATC before we went up and I felt I had a pretty good handle on it. However, once ATC started talking, and boy do they talk fast, I quickly realized I didn't have a handle on it. I couldn't even process what they were saying, let alone write it down and say it back. I screwed it up more than once, luckily the ATC guys are pretty nice, even if they do talk extremely fast.

I should back up a little bit, once we were off the ground, we listed to the weather for Moline and called up approach for a landing. Approach gave us a squawk code (transponder code for radar contact) we put it in, and nothing, we smacked it a few times and again nothing. ATC came back with "no radar contact." This meant that we could not enter their airspace. Fortunately ATC had us as a primary on the radar but just couldn't get our transponder, we confirmed that we were in the location that they thought we were in, and they cleared us for a right base for runway 27.

Fast forward to landing, which sucked, and then the hard part, taxi instructions. My instructions were to taxi via bravo, November, and kilo crossing runway 31 to Elliot's. Seems simple enough now that I am sitting in front of my computer, but when someone says that very quickly in your ear while you are still slowing the plane and expects you to read it back, for some reason it seems much harder. What I think I actually heard when he read this set of instructions was, blah blah, blah November, blah blah, runway, blah.

Once we get to the FBO, we park the plane and discuss what just happened. Tim asks, "how do you think that went." I say, "poorly." Actually I think it wasn't that bad, I mostly got things right, I just got the taxi instructions wrong on the first try.

Next up we are ready to head back to Davenport. I need to call clearance to get cleared to depart. I ask clearance for "547ca vfr to davenport 2000ft." Then I miss everything they say back, which I later learn was, 547ca direct to davenport maintain 2000ft departure 118.2 squawk 0302. Thankfully Tim responded to them and helped me to understand everything they said. Then my dreaded contact with ground and my new taxi instructions. This time I was ready and had an idea of what they were going to say. Me: 547ca at Elliot's ready to taxi. Ground: 547ca taxi via kilo, November crossing 31 for a November/27 departure. This time I got it, and read it back correctly!!! Take off goes fine, then tower turns me over to departure and things go back downhill. I was not expecting a heading, since clearance didn't give me one on the ground. But departure gave me a heading of 290. Again, Tim saved my butt by helping me read it back.

Aw, relief, back to familiar territory of davenport airport where I can announce and not worry about the crazy speed talkers known as ATC. Next trip is to Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. We shall see how that ATC adventure goes.

Night Flying

9:51 AM Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last night I went on my first night flight ever. It was amazing. When we first took off, the air was so smooth, it was so quiet and peaceful, I was in awe. Tim had asked me to climb to 2500 ft and as we were climbing I mentioned that I had never been up at night and how amazing it was. He was like, well, if you have never been up at night lets climb a bit higher, so we climbed to 3000 ft. It felt like heaven. I could have stayed up there until sunrise.

Well enough fun, time for work. We did some stalls and steep turns. Not too much different from daytime other than I didn't have road visuals to tell me if I was on heading, so it was a lot more instruments to reference. I did alright on those things.

Next up landings. Not gonna lie, I was slightly apprehensive about these. I had one really good landing and 5 kind of drop ins, and one simulated engine out that was nothing to write home about. I had really wanted it to go better but I will take it for my first time ever being up at night.

Well it sounds like next up is a "trip" to Moline for some Air Traffic Control Work. Then our first cross country which sounds like it will be Davenport (KDVN) to Cedar Rapids (CID) to Dubuque (DBQ) then back to Davenport. I am super excited to "depart the area".