Wow, I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since I flew last! That’s what the fall coming in in the northwest will do to you! Gone are our clear blue skies and sunny, warm weather! Enter perpetual gray days, fog, wind, rain, makes it tough to fly! And it’s even more frustrating when you’ve been set off on your own to get some cross country flying in!!
Of course it doesn’t help that over the past three weekends, I’ve been in Las Vegas, Tri Cities, and Southern California!! So I HAVE been flying, just not at the controls. Maybe next time I’ll say “Move over Captian, I need to get some hours!” I’m pretty sure that would end my flying career.
While we were sitting on the tarmac at LAX yesterday waiting to take off back to Seattle, I decided to check the weather in Puyallup for the week to see if there was ANY possibility of flying this week. Monday (today) looked like the only good day. My favorite plane (N84823) was booked most of the day, but was open from Noon – 5PM. While it was tempting to book it for the whole time and get a cross country in, having not flown in three weeks made me decide I should probably just get some time in and around the local area. So that’s what today’s mission was.
I booked the plane from 1PM – 3PM and the plan was to fly over to Tacoma Narrows, do some touch and gos and then come back to Thun field. I originally intended to fly over McChord to talk to the controllers there too, but decided against it once I got airborne. I got to the airport around 12:45, did my pre-flight and headed out. I took off out of Thun, the traffic pattern was really busy, so I had to wait to take off while a couple other planes landed. But once I was airborne I headed toward Tacoma Narrows.
Over the Puyallup Valley I checked the weather at Tacoma, then over the Tacoma dome I called up the tower in Tacoma:
“Tacoma Tower, Cessna November 8 – 4 – 8 – 2 – 3 over the Tacoma Dome at 2,000 with information Whiskey would like to enter the pattern for touch and go”
“Cessna 84823 report on the 45 for runway 1 – 7”
“Cessna 823 Roger”
I started descending and pointed the airplane towards one of the water towers in Gig Harbor. Just before I crossed over the puget sound, I let the controller know I was on the 45 and he cleared me (second in line) for touch and go on runway 1 7. I ended up doing 5 touch and gos at Tacoma Narrows and it was so busy there, I once got told to go around and another time on downwind was told to do a right 360º and report back on the downwind. The controller called my base turn a couple of times, extended my downwind a couple of times, it was really good practice. I was concentrating on my speeds and cockpit management. I remembered my pre-landing checklist every time! I even gave myself a passenger briefing before I took off!
After my last touch and go, I requested departure to the south, granted. I then requested a frequency change to McChord Tower, approved. I reported to McChord tower that I was 5 miles to the west requesting to transition West to East across their airspace. They gave me a discrete transponder code and granted me permission. They warned me about traffic at 1 O’Clock at 1,400 feet (I was at 2,000, so no big deal) and I actually spotted it.
Entering back at Thun Field, traffic was still heavy. So I crossed the field at the mid-point at 2,000 feet and entered on the 45 for runway 16. I was about 3rd in line and had to slow down a bit more than usual to maintain separation. I also extended my downwind leg just a bit to give even more separation. I landed a little longer than I would have liked, but overall it was good.
I shook the dust off today! While I was preparing to fly, my instructor came over and said I am her number 1 priority. Not that she doesn’t enjoy flying with me, but she wants to have me done by Christmas. I told her I would love to be done by the 10th of December as I’m leaving for two weeks to Hawaii on the 11th. So as long as we can get some good weather between now and then, it should be possible.
Here’s what I know I have left to do: 1 Solo X-Country flight. 1 Solo X-Country Flight with at least 3 legs and at least 150 nautical miles. 2.5 Hours solo time. 1 Night Dual Instruction X-Country Flight. 6 more takeoffs and landings at night. A few hours dual instruction preparing for the checkride.
My solo cross country flights will get me the minimum hours I need for solo time, so that’ll kill two birds with one stone (flight). My night dual instruction cross country solo will probably consist of at least 3-4 takeoffs and landings, so maybe I can convince my instructor to make it a total of 6 to knock out that requirement. Then it will just be prepping for check ride!
It’s getting close. I’m getting excited. My ultimate dream would be to complete my private pilot’s license before Teri and I go to Hawaii. Then when we get to Hawaii, find a FBO to rent a plane, do a check ride in one of their planes, then take Teri and I flying around the island for a few hours. 🙂 That would be AWESOME!! I’m not sure that’s possible, but it’s a goal!!!