Friday, January 22, 2016

Flying Lesson #37 - A Good Flight To Bad Axe

So today I came to the airport all prepared for my first VFR dual 50 miler each way cross-country.

I had planned as requested a flight to KADG, Leenawee County Airport.

It was not to be as KADG was showing marginal VFR, and low clouds between us and them which could become problematic.

That's ok, I had a flight planned to Lansing.

Nope, it's showing MVFR as well.

Ok, I was sent off to quickly yet carefully plan a flight to KBAX, Bad Axe Airport. 50 miles to the north of Pontiac.

So I dutifully calculated course, wind correction angle, fuel burn and picked out appropriate waypoints with estimated time of arrival at each.

Sean pronounced the plan good and off we went.

I did the preflight and got clearance for Runway 9L and permission to depart to the north and I began a climb up to 5,500 feet and leaned the engine once I got to cruise altitude.

Sean then introduced me to flight following by contacting Flint Approach, who after a bit transferred us to Cleveland Approach.

Flight following is kinda nifty, you get your own transponder code and they act as an extra set of eyes watching the airspace around you. You're still very much responsible for you and for traffic avoidance, but their radar will see lots of stuff you don't. We did get a few useful traffic warnings for aircraft we would not have seen otherwise, particularly 1 aircraft overtaking us from a thousand feet below and to our right.

So I started naviguessing to my first checkpoint. This was all via map and dead reckoning only as Sean didn't let me use Foreflight nor the plane's built-in GPS. Might as well learn how to do it the hard way first, right? So I headed to my first checkpoint, Oxford and found it without too much trouble. My next checkpoint was Lapeer airfield and I found that one and then Marlette airfield and subsequent checkpoints. No serious drift off course and I did pretty good.

Then we had Bad Axe in sight and I cancelled flight following and after the appropriate radio calls I then setup to land on Runway 4. All of Bad Axe's runways still had some snow on them so Sean said very clearly that I should not touch my brakes after landing. So I made a nice smooth approach, a nice landing and no problems. Then we taxied back to the runway and headed off and climbed to 4,500 for the return flight.

Then it was basically the course in reverse, about 210 degrees and we picked up flight following again and I found my checkpoints and made it back to KPTK. I was first told to enter the downwind and started to setup for that, and as soon as I was just perfectly setup for entry they had me instead enter the base leg. So I then came in on base, got everything ready for landing and did a decent but slightly flat landing and then had to hurry off the runway as there were quite a few planes doing pattern work. I taxied back and shut down and secured the plane.

Sean said my first VFR cross-country was quite good and it went a lot better than for many of the students he's taught and I did a good job navigating back and forth. Yay!

That was a very fun flight and it was cool to plan to go somewhere and then go forth and do it.

That's 1.9 hours, 2 landings and the first dual VFR cross country of 50 miles each way done.

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