I had finished my cross-country requirements for mileage, but not for time. I needed 0.7 of an hour more to get the 5 hours of solo cross-country time and today I finished it up.
It was a perfect day for solo flight. Clear skies, it was a nice temperature and the wind was light. My CFI picked me up from the train station and we went straight into talking about the cross-country because it was to an uncontrolled airport. I went once with him to an uncontrolled airport at the start of the month, and that’s my only time being at one. He just wanted to go over my route (I was flying along the southern coast of Long Island, which is a nice change from the northern coast) and cover uncontrolled airport procedures.
They were doing maintenance on the 152 that morning so the plane was by the hangar. There’s apparently an oil leak somewhere. They cleaned it out and tightened some thing, he thought he fixed the problem but told me to keep a look out if anything seemed off.
I took off from runway 19 so was able to do a straight out departure. I went over to the outer coast (there is a bay) to avoid the Class C airspace, I just planned to avoid it to make it easier. I tried a new frequency for NY Approach, I also heard a controller at Tower suggest it to someone else. There was a lot of talking going on so I checked the normal frequency and they were on it and call on that one. Got flight following easily. It’s not stressful anymore to me, which is great.
I headed along the coast, doing my check point and writing down my time. It was matching up pretty nicely. I had one of those moments where I realized “Oh wow, I’m flying a plane by myself! This is awesome!” It’s nice to have those moments. And I enjoyed just flying for a little bit, not worrying too much and not feeling overwhelmed (which I haven’t felt since the first solo cross-country.) I also got to watch an awesome aerobatic plane diving down like crazy and going back up over the middle of Long Island. I let that distract me too much and gained 300ft in altitude.
I tried to get the AWOS, but I wasn’t getting anything on the radio. I had checked the METAR before I left so I wasn’t terribly worried. I got the airport in sight. It’s getting easier to recognize airports higher up and further away now. I looked at the GPS and saw I was 8 miles away and forgot to announce at 10 miles, so I announced then. I heard someone taking off runway 28, which is what I thought the active would be from my earlier weather information. The traffic was going to the north, so no issue there. I self announced entering the downwind, when I was in the downwind, my base, final and clear of the active. It was such a confidence boost to do this all with ease. I know people have said it’s hard going from a controller or uncontrolled airport to the opposite, but that didn’t seem to be an issue.
This time I didn’t get out of the plane and just taxied back to take off. There was someone landing before me, I self announced and took off. I may have announced too much – once when I was about to take the active, another as I was taking off, and another as I left the pattern – but better safe than sorry!
The flight back was the same, it was easy and enjoyable. I’m sad that as I was passing Calverton Approach said they were getting ready to jump (that airport only does skydiving) I had past it when he said they jumped. Probably, in the end, the best thing, I don’t have to worry about people in the sky. Flight following was helpful with the advisories, there was a plane heading fast, at my altitude, and straight at me. I had to divert into the Class C airspace to avoid, which was fine.
A bit of Long Island Aviation history for you – I passed Gabreski airport, which has a very long runway. It was actually the airport assigned that if a space shuttle had an emergency they would land there. Pretty exciting stuff. It was also where the helicopter that crashed for the search and rescue for The Perfect Storm took off.
I got back to Republic just fine. ATC told me to follow a Piper to a downwind for runway 19. I didn’t see the Piper and told them I was looking for them. In hindsight, I should have told them negative traffic at some point, but didn’t. I heard them cleared the Piper to land, they cleared me to land before I even joined the downwind. I was getting ready to turn shortly and saw the Piper! I was really close to him. I tried to turn a wide downwind, still a bit close. I did a shallow S turn for spacing, he turned his base and I just extended my downwind a bit further to give him space. It all worked out.
It was a bit gusty, but my landing was pretty good. Downside: I touched down nice and soft, then a gust of wind brought me back up. I managed to touch down softly again and was happy I was able to save the landing.
Overall, it was a good day. I felt confident about my flying and I had fun. I just got a text from my CFI, we’re scheduling my checkride for Wednesday of next week! I’m flying every day this next week so that’ll prepare me. I need to work on my oral stuff a lot, which I plan on doing after flying and on the train every day. I can’t wait!
Lesson Time: 1.7 hours
Total Time: 56.3 hours