This past weekend I flew both Saturday and Sunday to fulfill the FAA solo cross-country requirements for a private pilot certificate. The requirements state that I need to fly a minimum of 5 hours solo cross-country. At least one flight must over 150 nautical miles total, including landings at 3 separate airports, and at least one leg over 50 nautical miles (straight distance).
Having already flown our plane most of the way back from Texas and a bit of cross-country flying in my glider (in California, Nevada, and even Utah), it wasn't as intimidating as it is for someone who's never flown very far before.
Here's how it all went down on Saturday--with pictures! (I'll try to write up Sunday tomorrow.)
Saturday: King City, Salinas, and Air to Air Photography
This route is fairly typical for students at Amelia-Reid Aviation. I originally wanted to shoot for Paso Robles but decided to just do the normal routine for my first flight.
I had the flight all planned a few days in advance and reviewed it with my instructor. I had been watching the National Weather Service updates out of the Monterey office, so I knew it was going to work out quite well. On Saturday morning, I called the Oakland Flight Service Station (FSS) to get a weather briefing and file my VFR flight plan.
The briefer confirmed what I expected--good weather and light winds. No costal fog to worry about. So I headed to the airport to track down my instructor and get a verbal go-ahead.
I launched at roughly 10:30AM on a straight out departure from runway 13 Left at Reid-Hillview. As I climbed thru a few thousand feed, I called up Oakland on the radio to open my flight plan.
I then leveled off and shot a few pictures of the area south of San Jose, including the Anderson Lake.
Over South County airport I shot a few more and then continued on to Hollister.
Passing to the west of Hollister, I shot a view of the coastline between Monterey and Santa Cruz.
Then, before I knew it, I was coming up on the higher terrain east of the Salinas Valley. The hills between me and King City weren't terribly intimidating, but it still makes you think about where you'd land if the engine quit.
Maybe 15 minutes later I was descending in the vicinity of King City (aka, Mesa Del Ray airport). There was one other airplane inbound, so I announced my intentions about 10 miles out and then again at 6 miles. Neither of us knew which way the winds were blowing, so we both planned to fly over the airport to get a look at the windsock before entering the pattern.
As we got closer, a third plane radioed to us that he was on a 5 mile final for runway 29 with possible engine trouble. I told him that I'd slow down to make room, but that turned out to be unnecessary. He was coming in fast.
Just as he was landing I got a look at the windsock and determined that the wind was coming mostly down runway 29. I did a quick turn and entered the pattern to land.
I taxied off the runway to transient parking near the Sean Tucker School of Aerobatic Flight so that I could hit the restroom. But it was closed.
It was then that I met the pilot of the plane that had engine trouble (which turned out to be a clog in one of his fuel lines). He borrowed my cell phone (his was dead) to cancel his flight plan and let his wife know he stopped for fuel. He and his daughter then posed for a picture.
I shot a few more for good measure. You know, just to prove I made it there. :-)
After eating a Clif Bar and a bit of walking around, I hopped back into the Citabria to finish off the flight. I did one less than ideal touch-and-go on runway 29 and then headed up toward Salians.
Navigation was no-brainer. You just follow the highway and eventually end up practically lined up for a straight in approach to runway 31. Listening to the AWOS and tower, I learned that they were, in fact, using runway 31. Sweet.
I called up the tower about 10 miles out to let him know that I'd like to land. They asked me to fly a straight in for runway 31 and contact them at the 4 miles out. I did so and was promptly cleared to land.
Once on the ground, I exited the runway and was told to "go to ground on point seven." It was at that moment I realized that I hadn't looked up the ground frequency in advance and written it down on my kneeboard. Whoops!
On a whim, I tried 122.7 and got no response. Then I tried 119.7 and also heard no response. Then I realized that I was being stupid and simply asked the tower for the full ground frequency: 121.7
I taxied back to the end of runway 31 for pattern work. I really wanted to do at least one touch-and-go there but wasn't sure how many. I was cleared for take off, did so, and then asked for permission to depart the area toward the north.
After leaving Salinas airspace, I headed toward Fremont Peak. Looking at my watch, I realized that my flight was going faster than planned. I wanted to stretch it to at least 2.5 hours, so I took a bit of detour to Hollister to see what was going on. I figured I'd over fly the airport and then head back to Reid.
Moments after announcing myself on the radio, a voice came on and said "is that Jeremy?" "It sure is" I responded.
Turns out that it was Steve Brockman flying Pawnee 92Z, one of the tow planes.
He said something like "if you can wait a few minutes, I'll take a few pictures of your plane after I drop this glider off."
Cool! Steve has been flying with his camera for a while now and taking some nice pictures. Since I didn't have any good pictures of our Citabria in flight yet, I was game to try.
They came out much better than I expected!
Once that was over, I headed back up the valley, flew over Frazier Lake airport and landed back at Reid-Hillview.
I gassed up the plane, wiped off the bugs, and updated some paperwork. It turned out that I had been up 2.5 hours.
All in all, not a bad day. It was a little warm, but I managed to stay comfortable thanks to the good vents on the plane.
Posted by jzawodn at June 20, 2006 07:49 PM