Thursday, October 9, 2008

Solo Cross-Country 2: Over the rivers and over the woods

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I-I34-40I (via OXD)
Weather: Clear, 72 degrees, wind light and variable

Autumn in this part of the country is certainly gorgeous weather-wise. After a cold front moved through last night it turned into a pilot's dream day - CAVU, meaning ceiling and visibility unlimited. It was one of those flights when I kept thinking to myself, "there's no better place to be right now." I chose to fly off to the West to Greensburg, IN and route myself via Oxford, OH (home of Miami University) to avoid Cincinnati's Class Bravo airspace - that's where the big jets fly.

Today's route of flight, courtesy of my GPS logger

Everything went well and I'll say that this cross-country felt better than my first one on the "now I feel like a pilot" scale. That's because it was a completely new place, in a direction I had never even flown before. And I made it there safely, stayed on course, and hit the checkpoints right on schedule. Having a CAVU day with light winds aloft does help with all of the above, for sure. I'll keep it brief and sum up the key things from this evening's flight bullet-style.

Pilotey Stuff:
  • Talked with ATC to get Flight Following both ways. I got a handoff (one control facility passing me on to the next - Dayton to Cincinnati in this case) on the outbound leg but had my Flight Following canceled by Cincy and had to call Dayton to resume it on the way back.
  • Opened my VFR Flight Plan with Dayton FSS in the air and had no issues with the online submission, unlike last time. Closed it by calling 1-800-WX-BRIEF when I landed and it was properly closed, also unlike last time.
  • Did a better job following checklists, hitting airspeeds, and maintaining altitude (I was spot on at 4,500 and 3,500 all the way there and back, respectively) throughout the flight. I did again forget to go full rich with the Mixture when beginning my first descent, but I was still high and pushed it in before I hit 3,000 feet. Gotta focus more on remembering this!
  • My planning was right on target. I predicted 50 mins on the way out and it took 55. On the way back, it was 56 planned and 55 actual. Sure beats the 1 hour, 45 minute drive - one way.
  • The landing at Greensburg was smooth-ish, but I flared too late and landed flat. More practice is still in order on pavement. Back at Stewart, I made a real smooth touchdown on Runway 8's slight upslope.
I stepped out of 60338 for a couple minutes in Greensburg

Touristey Stuff:
  • Seriously, what a beautiful day. I could have flown in circles for two hours and have been happy.
  • Visibility was ridiculous - I'm pretty sure I picked out CVG (Cincinnati International) from over 35 miles away.
  • Having seen plenty of the Dayton area's flat nothingness, it was fun to fly where there's actually enough change in elevation to call the ground terrain. They're just small rolling hills, but with the leaves starting to change it was nice to look at.
  • Went over the Brookville Resevoir and some other lakes that looked incredible reflecting the deep blue sky.
  • In flying over Oxford, I got a nice view of Miami's campus and their football stadium.
  • A traffic helicopter from Indianapolis was at I34 when I landed there, then departed and hovered a few miles to the West. Not sure if he was refueling or just taking a break.
  • On my way back into Dayton I saw a C-5 departing Wright-Patterson AFB. Let me tell you that they still look huge, even from 10 miles away in the air. Coming straight at me with the landing lights on, it was rather intimidating. He turned away and I got a great view, although the photos I tried to take didn't come out.
Today was one of those days where I felt incredibly lucky to be allowed up in the sky. I successfully navigated somewhere new and did enough things right to make it there and back in one piece without any excitement. There will always be areas for improvement, no matter how long I fly, but sometimes it's just nice to appreciate everything and enjoy the ride.

Flying toward Brookville Resevoir on the way home

On the ground in Indiana - she's a good old bird

I'll be up a ton this weekend with Dave to knock out my night flying (way excited for that) along with landings at a towered airport. Then on Sunday it's the long solo cross-country! As of right now, the plan is to fly up to Bowling Green, down to Bolton Field near Columbus, and back to Stewart - about 260 nautical miles in total. Onward and upward!

Flight Track:
Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.0 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 14.1 hours
Total Time: 45.5 hours


  1. It sounds like it was a great flight. I'm looking forward to cooler weather and less haze on the horizon.

    By the way, CAVU is "ceiling and visibility unlimited".

  2. I knew something didn't sound right... I fixed the CAVU description in the post - thanks!