Long X-Country Done!
I decided to take the day off work on Friday and attempt my long X-Country trip that I needed to do as a requirement for my PPL.
The forecast was not looking good for Friday morning the night before. Regardless, I decided to do the flight planning anyways in hopes that the forecast was incorrect.
I woke up early on Friday morning to get things ready and was delighted to see the weather was not anywhere near what was forecast the night before! Awesome! I tweaked some of the numbers (mainly the upper winds) in my flight planning and headed off to the airport.
I also brought my GPS which I had pre-configured earlier to the route I was going to fly. This would be the test to see how well my non aviation hand held GPS unit worked in real world conditions. Since this exercise was to practice my navigation skills sans GPS, I was only using it as a “backup”.
Pre-Flight went off without a hitch and I was quickly on my way to my set heading point at Newmarket. There was hardly any wind, so my crab angle was small to nil. It was a really easy flight up to Muskoka. Traffic was pretty quiet as soon as I got to the west side of Lake Simcoe. Didn’t see any airplanes all the way up to Muskoka.
I tuned into the Muskoka MF to speak with Timmins Radio. All was quiet there, I was the only one in the control zone. This is where I made my first mistake. I thought the terminal was at the north end of the field. The winds were favoring runway 18. Perfect I thought, no need to backtrack all the way back down the runway. I land, hop off the runway onto a taxiway and head towards some buildings. Hmm.. nothing but hangars here. I call up Timmins Radio again and ask them where the terminal is. He explained to me that it’s on the south side of the field at the threshold of 36. Doh!
I backtrack down the runway, hop out of the plane get my log book stamped had a quick bite to eat (I packed some snacks) and departed again.
The trip to Peterborough was smooth as well, my ETA for Peterborough was just after 12pm. about 10 minutes out I tune to Peterborough Unicom to get an airport advisory. The frequency was buzzing with a lot of traffic coming and going. “Damn, I wish this place had a tower…” I thought to my self.
I was a mile back from the field and at 2200′ when I heard someone call up that they were also a mile back from the field at 2100′ and their intentions were exactly mine. I couldn’t find them anywhere! I called up and said that I was going to stay at 2200′ and do a 360° turn to let them go ahead. They replied saying it was too late and they were already doing one and had me in sight. I felt bad for cutting them off.
I cross overhead the field at 500′ above circuit altitude, make my turn and descend to circuit height and head back to join the mid-left downwind. I see the airplane that made the 360° above me doing the same thing. She ended up following me all the way in.
I’m on base just about to make my turn and call on the radio that I’m on my final when I hear another airplane call up and say they are going to backtrack down the runway. Oh no you don’t! I called up and said I was on final. They called back saying that they would wait for me.
I taxi to the terminal get my log book stamped and taxi back to the runway. This is where I wait, and wait, and wait. There is a plane in front of me waiting to backtrack down the runway. After about 10 minutes he’s able to get down the runway and take-off. I wait for two other planes to land then head down the runway. I can see a plane on base and turning final just as I reach the end of the runway. I turn around, call up saying I’m on the roll and take off. Phew!
That was the busiest I have ever seen an uncontrolled airport before.
After my set heading point, I calculate a few things and figure out that I’m going to be 15 minutes later at arriving back home than whats on my filed flight plan. Time to call up FSS and let them know. At first I try 126.7Mhz. No answer… hmm.. I thought London Radio listened on 126.7. Then I remembered that there was a RCO at Buttonville at 123.15, dialed them up and was able to amend my flight plan.
Although I am going to be overhead Oshawas control zone (by 1500′) I always call them up ahead of time to let them know that I will be crossing overhead at 4500′. They give me a squawk code and let me know if there is any traffic around me.
It was a nice day and a nice flight. Smooth air, all of my landings were in near zero wind conditions. I cant wait to be able to do more x-countries (especially at night) once I get my PPL.
I took a few photos which you can see in the gallery.