Solo X-Country a Success!

My Solo short x-country flight yesterday went without a hitch. It was the first time that I actually felt comfortable behind the yoke.

My first x-country (with my FI) a week earlier was a disaster. I was really nervous and wasn’t totally prepared. She reassured me that it was only normal.

I got up early, had a decent breakfast and did all the necessary planning. I headed to the airport with enough time to spare, so much so that the plane was still out with another student. I got the necessary questions by the duty pilot before signing out the plane. Just “what would you do if…” type questions. I filed my flight plan and headed out to the plane.

I had planned on departing at 14:30Z (according to the plan) and I needed to get fuel. Luckily the fuel truck was filling up the plane right next to mine, so I headed over and asked him if he can top me up. I glanced at the fuel counter on the truck when he was done filling.. the number showed “28”. Not sure if that is Litres or Gallons.

The run-up and taxi to the active went on without a hitch. I opened my flight plan at 14:28Z and took off from runway 33.

I did bring my GPS but realized that I forgot to turn it on until about 10 minutes later… d’oh.

The flight was great. A little bumpy, but nothing too crazy. I did make a radio call by accident on 122.8Mhz instead of 122.9Mhz – I blame the crappy analog radio stack. I was able to see all of my checkpoints and set heading points well in advance. I also maintained my track much better now.

A crappy radio stack

I landed in Peterborough without incident. I think that airport is hilarious. It has a 5000′ paved runway with a class E control zone. I guess it’s because nobody uses it. I’d just assume that all uncontrolled airports are turf/gravel ones.

I went inside, signed the log book and headed over to the other building near the fuel pumps to get by log book stamped. This is where the unicom guy lives. Unicom is a “service” that allows you to get information about the conditions at an uncontrolled airport. While in the air, before landing, I called up Peterborough Unicom and asked for an airport advisory. Since they are not air traffic controllers, they can’t legally tell you which runway to use, etc… So the wording of their response is interesting…

Me: Could I get an airport advisory please?

Unicom: *call sign*, Peterborough airport advisory. Wind at the windsock five to ten knots from the west. The suggested runway to use is 27, there may be traffic in the circuit.

He literally just looks out his window and reads the windsock and the direction and lets you know. Notice the key word here.. “suggested”. He would also help you out with fuel or where to park once you land.

I took off and started heading to Oshawa. This time climbing to 4500′ (on the way to Peterborough I was cruising at 3500′). The winds seemed to be stronger up here (as the FDs predicted) and I noticed I was getting blown off track by quite a bit. Since I was in the first half of the leg, I used the Double Angle method to regain my track. It worked out beautifully.

I called up Oshawa tower as a courtesy to let them know that I would be overflying their field at 4500′ enroute to Buttonville. Technically you dont need to do this as their airspace ends at 3000′. I was given a transponder code to sqawk and told there was no conflicting traffic at 4500′.

Made my way to Buttonville no problem and was number 1 to land. By this time the wind was gusting a bit but not an issue for the landing. Tower allowed me to roll out to taxiway Alpha (which is closer to the place where I tie down the plane).

I closed my flight plan, shutdown the plane and headed inside.

I have a flight tonight (if the weather holds up) on instruments and unusual attitudes. On Thursday I have the dual long x-country booked. I still have to do the planning for that one tonight.

I haven’t started studying for the flight test. I will this weekend though…

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3 thoughts on “Solo X-Country a Success!

  1. Well, a few comments.
    1/ Your perception of CYPQ may change the first time you arrive at peak time on a Saturday afternoon and find yourself #4 in the circuit, and then parking next to private twinjets and a wide variety of other expensive metal on the ramp. The runway there is 5000′ for a good reason…cottage country…wealthy people…$100 hamburger destination…remember. ;)
    2/ If you think that radio stack is crappy try out a small or older aircraft sometime soon. Your perspective will change. :-)
    3/ Get used to uncontrolled procedures…look at the ratio of controlled versus uncontrolled airports in Canada and you’ll see why. There’s a distinct chance you’ll spend more time dealing with the latter at the beginning of your career, and many don’t even have a Unicom service.
    4/ Unicom can be usefull regardless of the fact that its sometimes brief, and occasionally obvious. It beats overflying the field to observe the windsock all the while having no idea if there’s traffic in the circuit or not. Both are time and safety advantages, even though its only “advice” and not controller with any authority or guarenteed information.
    5/ Peterborough has an AWOS that provides more detailed information and altimeter readings, although calling the Unicom (if they are there and answer) is also advised. Did you checkout the AWOS as well?

  2. To answer your questions..
    1. All the more reason to make it a class D control zone ;)
    2. It’s crappy compared to the other 172s in the fleet. Which are digital…
    3. Yeah.. and I am. It’s fun.
    5. I listened briefly to the AWOS just to hear what it was all about. I think they need to increase the speed at which the computer reads out values ;)

  3. well at least you can make out the numbers with a glance.
    The digital one in the 172 I’m training in is very difficult to see. You basically have to lean in and cup your hand over it to actually make out the numbers.
    Sounds like a great cross country though.
    Good luck.

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