Sorry it has taken an incredibly long time to post here…but the good news is that I am actually only a few days from taking my private pilot faa checkride (flight test). However, I wanted to update the blog about my solo cross country flights that I completed over the last two months…there will also be some pictures and videos from the flights below. There were three flights that I did, all which went really well. First, I flew the same flight that I had flown with my instructor, to Sullivan County (Monticello, ny), and back. Second, I headed south to Philadelphia, landing at Northeast Philly airport (right outside the city). Finally, I flew my long solo cross country (required to fly at least 150 miles, landing at three different places), from Caldwell to Sullivan to Allentown Lehigh International, and back to Caldwell. Here are some short recaps of the flights:
1. Caldwell-Sullivan – this was the easiest of the three flights. It was a short hop, no more than 1.5 hours total round trip. Once again, finding the airport turned out to be the hardest part, as it blends in really well with the rural scenery. It was quite as usual in Monticello, and there was very little traffic during the whole flight. On the way back, I was lucky enough to get VFR Flight Following with New York Approach Control, which helped spot out other aircraft. No problems with the route.
2. Caldwell-NE Philly – perhaps the most stressful of the three. I stayed at 2500 feet the whole time to stay below both New York and Philadelphia airspace…the skies were crowded, it was a gorgeous day, and I flew over numerous small airports. I think I passed at least three other small aircraft no more than a 3/4 mile off of my wings. Busy airspace. Anyhow, as I approached NE Philly, again, it was hard to pick out the airport. This time, the runways blended right in with the surrounding city, but I did manage to spot it out from 6 miles out, which was no problem. On final to runway 24, I actually got a little nervous that I was landing on the wrong runway, so I actually asked tower if I was lined up correctly for the approach. They were really nice about it, and just said yes, you look great…controllers are a great resource, and should not be feared. Flight back to Caldwell was no problem at all, transitioned through Morristown’s airspace, and landed back at CDW.
3. Caldwell-Sullivan-Allentown-Caldwell: This was the longest and most grueling of the three. Again, hop over to Sullivan was no problem, but luckily I picked up flight following with NY approach right away, which was awesome! Then, as I departed MSV, I got flight following from Wilkes-Barre approach, and they handed me off to Allentown. This means that I was talking to ATC the entire time which was great news. However, the flight got a little hairy as I neared the halfway mark. I realized I was over Lake Wallempaupack, which was at least 15 miles west of where I should have been. Thus, my headings were all wrong, and the winds must have shifted. So, I adjusted and flew towards my next landmark. This really required me to use my charts, which I did, but eventually, I flew over the Delaware River, and saw Allentown ahead…great news. Landing at Allentown was flawless, especially with the huge runway to accommodate commercial traffic. Headed right back to Caldwell, a flight I was already familiar with. Again though, my headings were wrong, so I ended up just flying by the ground….I saw landmarks, flew towards them, and made my way back. I really do feel like I know this area now (Western NJ/PA border), so I was able to navigate no problem.
All and all, the flights were great, and it was a major step forward in my path to getting the license…I created a video, with pictures, videos etc. from the flights, so here it is, take a look! Thanks!