It has been two weeks since I last flew and during that flight, I went up for pattern work for the first time solo. I figured I would have a few more dual lessons before my next solo flight but because of the weather, things didn’t work out. Also, my instructor was on vacation most of last week so no chance during the week. Today we got some decent weather, and I was able to complete my first solo flight to another airport. Good thing too, because we have more snow coming tonight. ugh…
I woke this morning hopeful for the weather but I needed to analyze the area forecasts. My student solo limits are set at no greater than 15 kt winds, with a 6 kt crosswind component. 2000 ft ceilings in the pattern, 3000 ft ceilings in the practice area, and 4000 ft ceilings for cross countries. Technically, this isn’t a cross country flight but I will be flying a bit further than the practice area so 4000 ft ceilings apply.
The winds are pretty variable all over the area but nothing breaking my crosswind maximums. All checked out good, so I headed to the airfield.
I met with my instructor for a few minutes in between her lessons to go over a few things including, how will I navigate, what are the runway lengths, pattern altitudes, radio frequencies, the Five C’s of getting lost, overall weather in the area. Everything checked out and she signed my logbook to visit KSCR. As I started to leave, I asked “You’re the best source of info on the current conditions, how is it up there?” She replied, “Bumpy… really bumpy today”. Great, two weeks without flying, even longer without dual. Oh well, I can handle it or she wouldn’t let me go.
Preflight, run-up, everything went smoothly. I taxi’d to runway 3, made my radio call and away I went. As we gained speed, the wind cradled the wings and with one smooth motion, we lifted from the bonds of earth and climbed like a rocket. Not only because I was solo but during my weather gathering, I noted that the area density altitude was -2500 ft. The cold weather made the air really dense, thus better climb performance. I was at 900 ft msl before I knew it, so I made my cross wind turn, made the radio call to depart the pattern and I locked in on my first visual waypoint, the 3M plant.
Just before I reached the 3M plant, I was at cruise altitude so I performed my cruise checklist. Oh yeah, it was really bumpy. I had a hard time keeping my altitude of 3000 ft and busted my planned altitude up to 3200 ft at one point. I could hear my instructor telling me about it. I got it corrected and my deviation for the rest of the trip was around 50-100 ft. It was not the easiest with all of the bumps but I think I did ok. Once I was passed the 3m plant, I setup between US 64 W and some power lines that would take me all the way to Siler City.
I made an advisory call when I was 10 miles away from Siler City and the nice gentleman at the FBO let me know that winds favored Runway 4 and no other traffic was inbound. I set up for my descent and entered the pattern downwind. Pretty uneventful, except on final, the FBO called and asked, “012, are you from the flight school?” I replied, “Yes sir, I am”. “I guess you’re not going to need anything then.” I replied, “No sir, just a full stop and taxi back for takeoff”
Now this isn’t a big deal right? But looking back on it, I was on final approach at an airport that I’ve only been to a few times, all by myself and I was able to handle the radio and keep a stable approach without having to really think about it. I think that is pretty cool. It almost seemed second nature.
Not going to bore you with the rest of the flight because it was pretty uneventful. I returned to KTTA and talked briefly with my instructor on the ramp as she was headed out to fly with another student. All in all, it was a successful flight. Even after two weeks off and being my second time solo.
I captured my flight with cloud ahoy if you want to check it out here -> Clicky Clicky!