OK, so I’m an only child. What’s that have to do with flying? Not much, other than the fact that when I want something, I want it right now. I feel I’m pretty darn close to being able to take my private pilot check ride. In other words, I feel I’m about ready to be a fully licensed private pilot with all the responsibilities and privileges that come with that title. So last week after my last flight lesson I looked at the weather for this upcoming week and realized that we’re gonna have a pretty amazing week here in the great Northwest!
So I planned out the following schedule:
Fly Solo Sunday (today). Fly with instructor on Tuesday. Mock Check ride with other instructor on Friday, REAL check ride on Saturday the 31st. I asked my instructor to coordinate with the FAA designated flight examiner for next Saturday. The message came back “No Check Rides on the weekend, please coordinate with Summer” (Summer is the name of my flight examiner)
So I rearranged the schedule to the following: Fly solo Sunday (today), Mock Ride with other instructor Monday, Fly with my instructor on Tuesday, actual check ride on Friday. I called, texted and Facebook messaged Summer. Message came back. “Only available Monday and Tuesday next week”. Crap.
So I cancelled Monday’s flight, cancelled Friday’s flight and cancelled Saturday’s flight. (Saturday was going to be my first flight as a private pilot with my wife on board) My flight instructor says that my check ride is like giving birth to a baby. It takes as long as it takes. So I’m calling this False Labor. I’ve got some pretty busy weeks ahead at work, I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to fly between now and valentines day anyway. So I’m going to have to put the check ride on hold. I’m bummed about that, but I’ll manage. It’ll give me more time to study for the oral portion anyway. I feel right now I could probably pass the flying part without too much difficulty. The oral portion is a different story.
But my flight today was pretty cool! I recreated the flight my instructor and I took last week into Crest and Boeing field, but I did it solo! Landing at Crest (S36) by myself was a huge accomplishment in my eyes. Having my instructor in the right seat telling me what to do is one thing, doing it on my own is another. Now the first attempt to get into Crest, I had a hard time finding the runway. So I ended up going around and looking again for the field. It really is hidden by trees and NOT easy to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
But my setup the second time around was pretty good and I handled the Dog Leg like an old pro (Click on the image to see a larger version of what the DogLeg looks like). Ok maybe like a new pro. I was a little (lot?) left of centerline on the runway when I landed, but still had plenty of room even on that narrow runway. I taxied back and waited in line to take off. I set up my radios for Boeing Field’s weather and traffic and waited. The sky was busy today, as it is on all nice northwest afternoons. Finally it was my turn, I went to the end of the runway and practiced a short field takeoff. Full brakes, full throttle, let off the brakes, right rudder and climb out! (I tell you what, you can REALLY tell the difference in N1151M with the new engine and propeller! She LOVES to climb!)
After taking off out of Crest, I remembered to veer slightly right to avoid the trees and power lines, then departed the pattern to the west. There was a plane coming at me from the right, but below me by about 500 feet and he certainly wasn’t talking on the Crest frequency! Kind of freaked me out a bit, but there was no drama.
Over Kent, I called up the Boeing Tower and announced my position and that I had the weather. They asked me to report when I was 2 miles to the South East, just like they did when we went in last week. So I set up over the power lines at 1,000 feet and made my call. The cool thing was that the small runway was closed today for whatever reason, so they had me land on the Big runway, runway 13R. That was really cool!! I asked for the option to do a touch and go and was granted permission. Click on the image above for a larger version, or on the Video below to watch my approach into, landing and climb out. On my climb out, I stumbled a bit on the radio, but the controller at Boeing Field was super nice and just asked for clarification.
I headed back to Crest and did another landing and take off there. From there, I headed to the South East practice area for some maneuvers. I did S-Turns, Turns around a point and some power on stalls. Then I headed back to Thun and did three landings and two takeoffs there. Filled the plane up with gas and checked it in.
Overall I was pretty pleased with my flying today. Didn’t hit anyone. Got 6 takeoffs and landings in. Navigated myself into and out of Crest, into the super busy airspace surrounding Boeing field and back home again. Great day. Tuesday will be some more polishing with my instructor, then the waiting game begins. We’ll see when the contractions start again.
My instructor says that graduation day is the day we can take off out of Thun Field, I fly over to Crest, take off from there and into Boeing Field, back to Thun without her having to do or say anything. I think I’m ready for that. We’ll see.