Sunday, September 10, 2017

Flying - First Cross Country As A Private Pilot

Today's weather was just beautiful flying weather - winds calm to light, few clouds at 4,500 otherwise clear until way up there, no TFRs, no significant weather of any kind.

So I had arranged to meet with Eaton Rapids Joe of the eponymous Eaton Rapids Joe Blog and Scott of Providentia Blog at KFPK airport in Charlotte.

As KFPK is 62 nautical miles away from Pontiac it counts as cross-country flight and a mission to meet friends and find my first $100 hamburger (the cost of the flight gets it to $100 fast). I did indeed do a paper chart and navigation log and got a weather briefing before heading off. While I did use both the Garmin GPS 430 and Foreflight on my iPad in the plane, I still checked the map and nav chart for checkpoints as well.

I had booked an Archer for the flight, and had put in time for meeting, but apparently the Archer had a mechanical issue so they put me in a Piper Warrior, N2885B. First time in a Warrior but its basically a slightly smaller and lower-powered Archer with pretty much the same setup so it was an easy transition, even as it has a little less oomph on takeoff that was kinda noticeable, but no matter.

The light 4-knot crosswind favored the 9 side of the field, so I did a long taxi, did the run up and held short of the runway.

Then before taking off from Runway 9L I had to wait for a hovering helicopter to get off the runway. He did a very stylish sideways maneuver and then lifted off once the tower asked him to git, and then it was my turn.

Then I did a nice takeoff and I was instructed to do a downwind departure. I did so and then Tower wanted me to stick to my heading of 270 as there was a Citation Jet incoming for the parallel runway and staying out of his flight path was in everyone's best interest.

After he passed, I adjusted my course and headed to KFPK.

I overflew Livingston County Airport, site of some of my prior flights, and I listened to the traffic in the pattern as I flew serenely over it at 4,500 feet.

Then I made it to KPFK, and there was another aircraft in the pattern.

I then did two nice low passes and go-arounds over the runway. The Runway at 3510 x 75 ft was thinner than I was used to and slightly smaller, so it took a bit to get the setup right as I was coming in too high and fast on final on both occasions, probably due to turning too early on base, and because I had two bloggers watching my landings.

Rather than being dumb and forcing it in, I did go-rounds and then followed the other plane, a Diamond DA-20 as he did a B-52 type pattern around the airport. This gave me plenty of room to setup a perfect approach and the landing was smooth as can be. I then pulled up to the airport building and had two bloggers waving to me. I parked and let them into the building using the entry code and signed into the visitor register.

Then we headed to town and at Charlotte Brewing Co., I was hungry enough to eat a Moose, and one was indeed there.

Instead of Moose, I had my first fabled $100 hamburger.

A darn good burger and it hit the spot.

Over the meal, I had some excellent conversation with Scott:

And with Eaton Rapids Joe, Mid-Michigan's Man of Mystery:

Great discussion was had, delicious burgers were eaten, and it was a perfect time indeed. Darn good folks, the two of them.

Then we went back to the airport and I showed them the plane and did the pre-flight and run up, and headed back to Pontiac. I flew back at 5,500 feet and there was a bit of haze and a few thin clouds on the way, but it was a nice easy flight.

At 12 miles from Pontiac I called the tower and they had me do a 5 mile straight in final as I was already lined up on Runway 9L.

Basically for a straight in approach you decrease altitude until you're at pattern height at 2 nm away, and then imagine the pattern is now a straight line and you do each procedure where you'd do it in the pattern. This works well when you really know the landmarks and I had this approach just perfect.

I did a fantastic smooth landing even as the wind kicked up a bit of a crosswind, because of course, no bloggers nor probably anyone else were watching. I then taxied back to DCT and parked the plane.

1.9 Hours, 2 landings and first $100 hamburger eaten and mission accomplished. That flight just felt great, and using the plane as it was intended -- to go places and meet people -- which was the whole point of getting the license in the first place, was really excellent indeed. Thanks for the great meet-up gents.


Eaton Rapids Joe said...

Indeed, it was a first class landing at Charlotte. It was like watching thistledown drift to earth. No bounce and 1500 feet more runway than needed.

B said...

And I do my first flight tomorrow. Somewhat inspired by you, my friend.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

that was a perfect flight and seeing good friends is a perfect reason to fly and of course nobody was around to see the landing. Now let you hop the landing, and several people will see it.

Aaron said...

Joe Mama: Thanks, it did feel great, and it was fun seeing you!

B: Outstanding, have a great first flight, enjoy the experience, and be sure to blog about the experience and let us know how it goes!

Aaron said...

Mr. Garabaldi: Yep, it was a great flight, and that's always how it goes with landings.

Comrade Misfit said...

Nice. It's fun, isn't it?

Aaron said...

Corade Misfit: Yes it was lots of fun indeed. That I could go forth and do that helped lessen the frustration of the training process.

Scott said...

In Aaron's defense, just before he arrived at the airport there was a bit of a crosswind that kicked up, and both he and the other aircraft were fighting it a little on final. Of course, as soon as he was down, it stopped.

Great burgers and great company are not to be missed, and I was glad to be able to participate in this one. The next time you're inclined to go to Charlotte International, we'll do it again. We'll do the Mexican place, just so you can get the full experience of Charlotte culinary offerings.