Saturday, March 26, 2016

Flying Lesson #45 - First Solo Cross Country Completed!

Today was the day for the cross country solo.

I had called for an outlook weather briefing last night and everything looked good.

This morning the weather briefing was again excellent.

Unfortunately somehow everyone sipped the low cloud ceilings form their forecasts.

I arrived at KPTK and the solid overcast level was at 1,100 feet - too low to go.

So I preflighted the plane, N757MK in this case, got it fully fueled and good to go, and then waited for the overcast layer to burn off.

It finally burned off to 1,800 feet so I was good to go. While it was lower than I had planned to fly, the instructors were ok with it and as long as I was comfortable they said I could go on ahead.

I took off from 9L and had approval for an immediate left turn to head north.

I got on course, found my way points and headed off to Bad Axe.

I was typically at 2,500 feet, below the cloud layer until past Lapeer, when it raised enough to get up to 3,500 and then became just scatterings of clouds that were easily avoided.

I then passed Marlette and soon the windmills around Bad Axe came into view and I got the automated weather report, which had the wind coming out of 170, which was perfect for Bad Axe's runway 17.

There were a couple other planes landing at Bad Axe, so I announced myself and then entered the left downwind and landed after them with quite a decent landing if I say so myself. I did a full stop, taxied on back to the beginning of Runway 17 and headed back to Pontiac.

By then the layer had broken up even more except around Pontiac where there was still a fair bit there. Pontiac was getting busy enough to go to two towers, and from listening to their frequency early enough I picked up on that before they even announced it over the ATIS and made contact on the proper frequency. Apparently my instructors were listening to the transmission and thought I handled the radio very well and apparently sounded confident and like I knew what I was doing, so there's that.

I got cleared to come in on a base approach for runway 9 left and there was a 10 knot wind coming out of 160 degrees at that point, which was a bit annoying. I did a decent enough cross-wind landing but certainly not my best, but it was good enough to get me on the ground safely.

I had done it! A fully planned flight to there and back with no one there but me to handle it. It certainly felt quite different to be alone in the plane for that amount of time, and I was scanning the instruments and gauges and sounds of the aircraft for even the slightest issue. Landings were a bit more floaty without the weight of another person in the plane.

Will was happy that I had done it and has cleared me to do my next cross country, to Jackson, a Class D field rather than the uncontrolled field at Bad Axe.

That's 160 nautical miles, 1.9 hours and an excellent solo cross country in the books.