The Solo Cross Country! [Midwest > Columbia > Miami County > Midwest]

Meeting up at Midwest National Air Centre early, Peter was ready for his first introductory flight with Rachel and I was preparing for my cross country flight.

Whilst Rachel took Peter and Mark for a flight in the Cessna 172, I completed my flight planning and waited for them to come back so I could get an endorsement in my logbook from Rachel before leaving.

The fog had cleared but it was still a little cloudy here and there. It was cool and there was a nice breeze, making a change from the hot weather at the start of my adventure. Being the weekend, it was nice to be a little more relaxed out of uniform too.

I got in the aircraft and reached for my camera to make a quick blog for what was going to be my big cross country solo flight. The lens cover was jammed and also a little bent into the lens and I got this shiver up my spine thinking, “oh my goodness what have I done”. I think the pressure during previous flights or possibly a temperature change or something caused the lens cover to break into the actual lens, because the camera is very well looked after, always kept in a bag and in my flight case. Nevertheless, I eventually got the cover off with a lot of force to find that the filter had completely smashed and glass went everywhere onto me and on the floor of the aircraft!
I thought I had completely broken the lens and camera because of how bad it looked and how shocked I was from the smashing glass in my hands! I just cleaned up the best I could, put the camera back and that was it. It turns out I could have just unscrewed the lens cover and the actual lens and the camera were perfectly fine – the lens cover did what it was supposed to do, protect the lens! I didn’t know this until like a day after when I told my dad panicking he was gonna kill me for breaking his expensive SLR hehe. He just unscrewed the cover and gave me the look that said,”silly wabbit!”

So, point of that story is – no pictures or videos, regretfully. Apart from a self portrait from my phone – BORING!

To remind readers – the trip, which was going to be about a 300 nautical miles all round trip was from Midwest to Columbia, a touch and go there (counting for my landing at a towered airport), then to Miami County, then back to Midwest, meaning that I’d complete my cross country hours for the PPL program, because it would be a three leg journey exceeding 50 nautical miles. The journey was 3.2 hours, which also completed the hours needed to make up for the cross country hours needed for part of the PPL program.

The journey was quite tiring but I was well organised and confident. It was almost a little boring because after I was up in the air and going towards my destination, I literally just needed to keep the airplane flying in a straight line. Although, now that I’m writing this during the time I’m doing research for a design project, I would do anything to be flying in a straight line to anywhere!!!

I couldn’t fly at the VFR cruising altitude that I had chosen (3500ft) because of clouds but I was at 2600ft and I had flight following the whole way so it wasn’t a problem.

I got to columbia, had no problems getting there, did a touch and go, had no problems communicating with the tower, then departed to the south west towards Miami County. This was the leg I hadn’t done before – I’d previously been to Columbia and I’ve been from Miami County to Midwest before with Brandon and also alone – however my checkpoints were well chosen and I knew where I was going.

I was heading straight over a big military air base, my course route just to fly to the south of it, but the air traffic controller instructed me to fly north of the air base so I had to take a little detour but nothing major. I asked if I could continue on my heading and it was granted so I continued on course as planned.

I found Miami County no problem. I did a touch and go and headed back to Midwest. I got flight following again from a different approach centre and flew the final part of my leg back to Midwest. I could see Midwest from 15 miles out so I was set for a very long final for landing.

I was happy with my radio communications, I landed and that was that!

A successful, happy and satisfying day, having planned this journey three times now and completing it. It was important to get it done because I was getting closer to my check ride so I needed to start having review flights in preparation for that.

I went back to the school, got some food then went flying with Rachel for another two hours!!

We went through some stuff I haven’t done for a while: slow flight, stalls etc, which I’m not a fan of but I did well in. We did ground reference manoeuvres and then headed back to practise landings, which were all great! :)

A long long day, but probably one of the most important days of my training, having completed a lot of hours, gaining solo experience, pilotage experience and flying with a different instructor having a different take on my flying, preparing for my check ride.

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