First Flight With a Passenger – Puyallup to Friday Harbor

John HurlbutFlying0 Comments

So having passed my check ride finally I was anxious to take my first passenger on a trip somewhere, anywhere! I booked the plane the day after check ride #2 for about 5 hours in the hopes that I would be able to take my wife, Teri, flying somewhere.  (Author’s Note: This flight actually occurred on May 10th, 2015.  I’m just now trying to get my blog posts caught up, so expect a flurry of activity coming through!)

One of the cross country flights I did as a student pilot was to fly from Puyallup Thun Field (KPLU) to Friday Harbor (KFHR) in the San Juan Islands. That flight was amazing for me on many levels, and I wanted to recreate that for my wife as much as I could. You can read about my solo cross country flight here.

I booked the plane for 5 hours and my computations had us just over an hour flight up, and an hour flight back with a couple hours for bumming around in town, grabbing a bite to eat, etc. My plan was to take off around 1:30 and be back around 6 or so. So we got to the airport around 1:00 and I started calculating weight and balance, checking weather, etc.  Teri was talking with my flight instructor and I headed out to do the preflight check.

Everything was good to go on the preflight and it was time to go! I got Teri situated in the front seat and gave her my old David Clark headset to wear. While I got to put on my brand new Lightspeed Zulu PFX headset. Earlier that day I purchased this headset as my “reward” for completing my pilot’s license. Wow, what a difference! Once I figured out that it wasn’t fully plugged into the panel and I could actually hear myself, the noise reduction was awesome and it’s a SUPER comfortable headset to wear!  I gave Teri my passenger briefing, we did the runup and we were off!

I was eager to show Teri that I was a good pilot (even though she flew with me on a couple of flight lessons and knew pretty much what to expect) so I called up Flight Services and opened our flight plan. Then I got on the radio with Seattle Approach and got flight following.  I asked her if she was comfortable and she said the bumps were getting to her a bit.  I told her that we were climbing up and that once we reached 3,500 feet or so the bumps would smooth out and we should have a really smooth flight all the way to Friday Harbor.

All the way up I was pointing out landmarks like Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, Issaquah, Bellevue, Seattle, Paine Field, Monroe, Duvall, etc. etc. and Teri was suspiciously quiet.  I was chatting with Air Traffic Control (ATC) all the way up and trying to be a good tour guide at the same time. But Teri was just giving one word answers. I was starting to worry she wasn’t having a good time or wasn’t enjoying the flight for some reason.

Once we flew over Whidbey Island, I prepared for our landing at Friday Harbor. I chatted with a couple folks in the pattern and announced where I was and what my intentions were.  My plan was to overfly the airport, do a 270° turn to enter on the downwind for runway 16.  Runway 16 is right traffic, which means all turns are to the right in the traffic pattern.  As I’m overflying the airport I see a guy entering on downwind making LEFT traffic for runway 16.  I called him up on the radio and said “I thought runway 16 was right traffic?” he replied “It is” and kept on his way. That flustered me a little bit.  But I got in the traffic pattern and absolutely GREASED the landing.  Super smooth!  Landed a bit long though, but it was smooth!

Teri and John at Friday Harbor Airport (KFHR) May 10, 2015

Teri and John at Friday Harbor Airport (KFHR) May 10, 2015

As we were taxiing for the parking, I went to raise my flaps and realized they were already up. That explains the greasy landing! And why it was longer than I anticipated. OOPS! We parked the plane and got out and Teri made a B-Line for the restroom. I secured the airplane and as it was Mother’s day, I called my mom to wish her a happy mothers day from Friday Harbor. I told my mom “I don’t think Teri really enjoyed the flight. She was super quiet.” After I got off the phone Teri corrected me and told me that she DID enjoy the flight, she was just told by my flight instructor before we left to be quiet during the flight so I could concentrate.

Well THAT explains it!

So we headed into town and grabbed a bite. The weather wasn’t super fantastic and I could see clouds coming in so we ended up leaving maybe an hour or so sooner than I had planned on. Teri bought a fleece blanket for the flight home as she was getting kind of chilled on the way up.

Our flight back was much more chatty and there was one time we actually DID miss a call up from ATC.  Overall the day was REALLY fun and I’m looking forward to exploring more of our state with my sweetie this summer! Teri took lots of photos on the way back and our route took us over the Narrows Bridges. Also a first for me was flying ABOVE the clouds!! Very cool!

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