Another milestone reached in my flight training! This week I scheduled four flight lessons positive that at least two of them would be cancelled due to weather. Well so far I’m three for three this week and with any luck, tomorrow I’ll be four for four! On Tuesday (09/30/14) I flew for the first time solo to another airport. It was the closest airport to home, but the fact that I took off from ONE airport, landed at another and came back was significant. I expanded my sandbox as my instructor likes to say. Yesterday (10/3/14) I flew out to the practice area over Enumclaw and did maneuvers. Power on stalls, power off stalls (no, we don’t turn off the engine), maneuvering in slow flight, turns around a point, and S-Turns. Then came back and landed. Both of those were solo flights.
Today’s plan was to fly from Thun Field (KPLU) to Skagit Bayview (KBVS), my longest cross country flight to date. I planned the route up to fly out of Thun, overfly Crest Airpark (S36) through the V notch, over Issaquah, Over Woodinville, over Arlington (KAWO) and finally land at Skagit Bayview. I invited my lovely wife Teri to come along on the flight too.
We got to the airport just before 3PM, and I called Lockheed Martin Flight Services to get the current weather. It sounded like it would be pretty much perfect VFR flying all the way up and back. I did the weight and balance calculations, and headed out for my preflight check while Teri and my instructor chatted. Finally it was time to go and we were off!! The flight plan went off without a hitch! My instructor had to give me some guidance for setting up flight following, etc, but for the most part, I did everything on my own. Flying into a new airport is always stressful because it takes a minute or two to get oriented to the traffic pattern, etc. I’m getting better at it, but still have some learning to do. On the way up I was getting reacquainted with my trusty E6-B flight computer as my instructor was calling for ground speed checks. Once we were safely on the ground I called and closed my flight plan. I THOUGHT I opened a new one for the return trip on Foreflight on my iPad, but as I learned when we were airborne again, I had not.
My return flight plan, I intentionally took us west because I wanted to do the SeaTac crossing again. There’s just something about flying over a big airport while the big boys are taking off and landing below you that thrills me! So our route went from Skagit Bayview to Camano Island, to Poulsbo, to Vashon Island, over SeaTac, over Crest, and back to Thun. After we took off from KBVS, I tried to open my flight plan, but it seems as though I hadn’t filed it on my iPad like I thought I did. So I just created it in the air and opened it. Pretty cool! We were doing more ground speed checks on our way back and I actually nailed most of my leg times. Again, the plan went off without a hitch!
We landed back at Thun field and I taxied to the fuel pumps and gave the plane a drink. We pulled the plane back to its parking spot and tied her down for the night. After debriefing, my instructor gave me permission to do a solo cross country tomorrow! AWESOME!! Assuming the weather holds (knock on wood) then tomorrow I’ll be headed off for Hoquiam all by myself! Expanding my sandbox even further!
So while I thought this week I’d get rained out at least twice, it looks like I’ll get four good days of flying in, and be able to log about four hours of solo time too! I’m REALLY feeling stoked for how my training is progressing now!! Im hoping on Monday and/or Wednesday this next week we can get my night flying in! Wednesday is a full moon, so that will be a cool night to fly. As long as we have some good weather I’m going to cram as much flying in as i can. Soon the days will be crap and I’ll be lucky to get one flight a week in. Tonight my instructor said if I keep up at this pace, she could see me being done in two months. That would be awesome. A guy can dream!