Yesterday, my lesson was cancelled because it was kind of gusty out. I did get a chance to take a practice test and scored 97%, now just to repeat that a few more times!
Today, the weather looked amazing. I’m sad my lesson was cancelled yesterday and today couldn’t be my first solo cross-country. My lessons haven’t been as many as I want because of weather changing into fall and things on the plane breaking. It’s been a big bummer. So going into today’s lesson, I hadn’t flown in a week and a half. I was kind of nervous going solo. I thought maybe we’d make a trip out to the practice area and then I’d do by myself. Nope, not the case. All solo today. That’s cool, I got this!
We talked over what I’d say to approach for traffic advisories and different ways I’d come back if runways changed. I felt a bit better. Prepped the plane and started to taxi to runway 32. I waved goodbye to my instructor as I taxied past him. I had a good take off, just a normal one because I had to line up and wait, so couldn’t practice a soft field. Also, since I was feeling a bit nervous, I decided to take it easy at first.
Departed the pattern pretty easily, got out of the airspace no problem. The Tower did give me a traffic advisory even when I was out of the airspace, but still listening which was nice. I also realized I forgot to say “student pilot” like my instructor wanted me to do. I’d get it when I call NY Approach. I hit the Northport Stacks and call up Approach after rehearsing what I’d say. I’ve actually been practicing since last night. I do it no problem, I was so proud of myself. Except, I forgot student pilot again! Damn it! But I squawk and ident, get radar contact, and altimeter, then I am free to go about practicing.
I start out with some slow flight, I didn’t get to where the stall horn was sounding for too long. When it did sound, it was just very faint. I just wanted to get comfortable starting to do that. I did challenge myself and did a power-off stall. I kept it coordinated and stalled the plane! I recovered. I was about to go into another one when Approach told me to climb and maintain 3000ft. Oh well, I moved onto steep turns. I did two to the left, I had to turn around because I was getting close to the Charlie airspace. I was then instructed to drop down to 2500ft and maintain. I did a steep turn to the right, working on that sight picture.
The controller finally said my altitude was my discretion right as I was about to head in. I decided to do one more power off stall. It didn’t want to stall at first and I was losing altitude, I gave it a bit more of an abrupt jerk and it stalled. I recovered. I cancelled the advisories. He packed in the information before I left, told me to squawk VFR, frequency change approved, and some traffic 200ft below me was to the northwest of me. I may not have needed to acknowledge all of those instructions, but I did.
I picked up the ATIS and called Tower. I saw the traffic Approach told me about, and Tower told me to follow him into a right downwind. He was much faster than me. It was a bit bumpy on the way back, that area is always a bit bumpy going over land. I got back to the airport just fine! This practice area is much harder to get back from, unlike the south which is super easy. I was cleared to land right as I entered the downwind.
I was a bit surprised by being cleared to land so quickly. It was such a nice day I thought the airport would be very busy. As I was turning base, I heard the controller say the winds were at 170 at 11kts. I was focusing on landing at that point, but that wind sounded weird to me. I was landing on runway 32, but I didn’t give myself time to think it through. I get on final, I’m a little high, but right at 65 knots. As I get close to the numbers, they go flying under me. What the hell? I look at my airspeed, it’s a bit faster, but looking at the ground I’m going pretty fast. This doesn’t seem right. I think about going around, but decide not to because I have plenty of runway to bleed off the extra speed. I float for a long time! I get pushed off the center line a bit at the end, and do land on the right wheel then left wheel. It wasn’t a terrible landing. I’m approaching the intersection of the runways, which means I went a long way down! I’m looking for a place to turn off, the controller tells me just to past the intersection and turn off at Bravo to taxi back. He knows where I park which is easy.
When I get to the section I park the plane, there is a twin engine in the area. I look closer to see the props moving, so I wait outside the area and let him come out before me. Meanwhile, I text my instructor I’m back (okay, maybe I’m not the best student texting with the engine running). The twin turns wide so I can pass him on the inside into the area.
My instructor comes over and asks if I realized I had a tailwind while landing. I said, “that’s what happened!” and I told him about my thought process while landing. He said I did the correct thing. Thank god, I thought I had royally screwed it up and had no idea why. We talked my flight through, and I told him how I kept forgetting to add “student pilot”, he said he noticed. Oops! I said how not screwing up talking to Approach made me so much more confident. He said he knew I could do it and that one time I got all flustered was just an off day.
So tomorrow is the big day hopefully, my first solo cross-country! I have to get to planning it now!