I haven’t been neglecting the blog, actually I have not been flying. I am at a point in my flight training where I need to complete the last few things in a certain order. The domino that was blocking my path was the night cross country.
I only have a few items to check off before I can start check-ride prep.
- Night Cross Country
- 3 Takeoff/landings at towered airport
- 2 more night takeoff and landings
- 2 more hours of solo cross country work
- 2 hours of hood work.
- Long solo cross country
Other than the hood work, my instructor wanted me to complete these in a specific order. I’ll explain….
In order to complete my long solo cross country, which fulfills ,the Tower takeoff and landings and rest of my solo cross country time, I needed to first visit a towered airport with my instructor. In her curriculum, this first towered experience comes during the night cross country. Also the night cross country would fulfill the final two night take off and landings that I need. So in short, the night cross country is the first domino to fall. Then I can complete my long solo cross country and the only thing that I have left are two hours of hood time. Which most will occur during my check ride prep.
So I know what you’re asking. Why did it take so long?
Well, the weather has been horrible. I started booking several nights a week starting mid March. On the 19th attempt, May 4th, the weather finally cooperated.
After many, many, many, many, yes…. many attempts. (You read 19 above, right?) I get a text from my instructor, “Based on new tafs, tonight is a go!”
Now I was pretty shocked because it had been cancelled so many times due to cloud heights, wind, dew points, etc., that I wasn’t really even paying attention to the tafs. At least not sitting here waiting for the updates.
As it gets closer to time, I get another text… “Check clouds wind before drive to tta today”. I immediately started looking at the surrounding area. Crap… winds are still high in spots. 10 in some places with 8 crosswind component. However, the predictions say that the winds will die down. I go to the airfield anyway even though things are sketchy. Hell, I just wanted to be around airplanes if nothing else.
So I get to the airfield and talk with my instructor before she goes out for some hood work with another student. She says,”I’m confident tonight will happen, go ahead and cancel the rest of the night flights and reschedule for your long cross country”. Yay!!!
She heads out with her student and I sit around, consuming a cup o noodle for my dinner and continue to hawk the weather. Things are starting to look better, winds dying down as predicted, clouds staying above 6000 ft.
Once my instructor returns, I get busy on final calculations for the trip. While she is going over my work, I call for a weather brief. This is where things go sideways. As we get to the notams, the briefer says “Looks like there is military lights out training at your destination tonight. You have to stay above 3,100 ft in the area. Since they are using night vision goggles, there are no lights in and around the airfield.” I have him repeat this with my instructor listening, hoping I was misinterpreting what he was saying. Nope, it was exactly what he said it was. At this point, I am pretty disappointed. I know the weather for the next week is not good.
My instructor says, “Well, it is what it is I guess”. After a minute of mulling, she then says “Give the tower a call and see what they say. Tell them that we are just flying in then quickly turning around and taking off.” I do as she asks and I hear the best news ever… well maybe not ever but in recent history. “The c-130’s are not operating tonight, so you can come on.” Yay!!
My instructor grabs her headset and as she walks toward the door to the flight line says, “Let’s get the hell out of dodge before something else happens”. I couldn’t agree more. I grab my stuff and then remember that I never actually filed the flight plan because of the news the briefer gave us. I quickly call up and file our flight plan then sprint to the plane.
I will write another post with the details of the night flight but spoilers… It happened! Finally.