13 November cross country preparations
These post are in retrospect because on the 6th of December 2012 I had my skill test. More about this in the post when I'm up to date with my blog again. The flight training is way more intensive then I originally expected. Flying isn't as easy as learning to drive a car for example. It is a lot more complicated and not only because of the extra dimension. That's the reason why the blog got a bit behind but I have 1 week of no flying to catch up so here it goes.
After the first solo the preparation for the solo cross country begins. For the JAA/EASA License a cross country flight is any flight to an airport other than your home airport. This can be a 15 minute flight away from Gillespie to Ramona. 5 hours of cross country flights + 5 hours solo are required. One of the cross country flights needs to be at least 150 NM long with stops at two different airports. You need to get a signature from someone at the airport as proof that you have landed there. Before you can do the solo cross country you need to pass your navigation exam. That's the only exam I didn't have so the pressure was on to pass it. I passed it the first time with 96%. The exam was doable but you need to be very precise.
We planned the short cross country to Hemmet and a long cross country to Thermal and Imperial. We had to postpone the flights because the weather was too bad. The cloud base was too low. My cruising altitude was 8500 feet so the clouds have to be pretty high! So after we postponed the flight I got a text from my instructor that he was going to move to his girlfriend in Idaho and wasn't able to continue being my instructor. It came by surprise because he didn't give any hint that he was leaving anytime soon. I remember that we talked about "this" situation when we first started flying as well. But hej, he gave me a lot of hours in the first part of my training and I think he was a good instructor so I'm happy he flew with me for the time he did.
Four days later I got a new instructor, Elodie. She has been with AAA for 1.5 years and she's from France but is an American citizen as well. In those 4 days of waiting I asked if Bret could show me how to do the cross country to Hemmet. We went to Hemmet and the flight went well. The airport is untowered so you have to play your own tower and make positions reports to the other pilots directly. We made two touch and goes and 1 full stop landing. We stretched our legs a bit and went back.
As I mentioned before. The clouds have to be high or gone when you do the long cross country or a checkride. The winter time in San Diego means that the temperature is pretty okay during the day, about 20 C. During the night the temperature drops to 10 C. The cloud base in the winter is a different story. There are days that the fog is heavy until 10 am and after that the clouds are too low for a cross country. I had to wait about a week in total before I could do the solo cross countries. Not great when you want to get your PPL in 4 weeks!
A few days later I went on the long cross country with Elodie. It was a 3 hour flight in total. It took me 5 hours to prepare the flight!! We flew mostly on the VOR's and it was pretty straight forward. The flight was great! We flew over mountains and over a big lake. We had to stay clear of restricted airspace and we also had to avoid a military airport. In the video you can see more what went on. What you don't see in the video is that I fly with the VOR's and dead reckoning technique. Dead reckoning is flying a certain speed for a certain distance. So if you know that point A and B are 10 km apart and you fly 100 km/h you know that it takes 6 minutes to go from A to B. It sounds pretty low tech and it is but it works pretty accurate. The only thing is that the speed is based on ground speed and there is no ground speed indicator in the aircraft. The winds determine the speeds so those are an educated guess.
The next post will be about the SOLO cross country flights. Have a good one!