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.

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