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JerryG

My Real life flight training cont... My first solo to another airport...

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So last night I checked the scheduling page for the school, and somebody had cancelled an early flight. I noticed my instructor was going up at 7 to do a rental checkout, so I called him and he said I could meet him there so he could give me the OK (Before I can solo, an instructor has to check my paperwork, and make sure the weather and forecast are within my limits).Since I haven't flown in two weeks, I was pretty excited, so I just naturally woke up at 6:15, hopped in the shower, kissed my girls, and headed out. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts, grabbed a coffee and got to the airport at 6:59. The guy who was there for the rental checkout was waiting at the counter. I chatted with him for a bit while we waited. He's an instrument pilot, but hadn't flown in 60 days so the FBO wanted him to take a check ride. One of the mechanics came out and said we could pre-flight our planes, they were both in the hangar. SWEET. It was 9 degrees F outside. So I did my pre-flight, and my instructor showed up and gave me the go ahead. While they were pulling the planes out, I checked out a few other planes in the hangar. There was a MINT Bonanza A36 there. Big, shiny 3 bladed prop. Brand new paint job. Perfect interior. It was the single-yoke kind where the yoke flips to either side. The panel on those is really high compared to the Piper. I would think it would have worse visibility. Either way, I'll take one please.So I hopped in my plane, and fired up the engine right away. I dropped the mixture down to help warm it up and burn off any deposits. That's a new habit I have. Pros, cons?My instructor and the other guy were taking their time. It was inevitable I would have to taxi out first. So I did. I finished my runup right as they were pulling up behind me. I told the tower I wanted to stay in the pattern and they cleared me for left traffic. I figured I'd do a few touch and gos to see if I was rusty. As I turned crosswind, I couldn't believe how smooth it was. Like being in a boat on a calm lake. Absolutely perfect. The ceiling was 4900 and the visibility was 10-20 depending which direction you looked. I was turning base when the other warrior finally decided they'd depart. They cleared me but informed me of the departing traffic. I told them I had them in sight, and was over the threshold when they were climbing through a couple hundred feet. If it was a jet, you wouldn't want to get that close, but a warrior has virtually no prop wash. Just stay far enough where him aborting a takeoff would cause concern.I was a bit rusty- I came in way high and a little fast. No big deal with 5600 feet, but at a smaller airport that probably would have been a go around. My touchdown was nice, although I am flaring a little high these days. I have to work on that- would make for a miserable soft field landing.So I did 3 touch and gos, and by the third I was dialed in. 60 knots on final, set it down nicely at the stall horn (if not a few feet too high). I told the traffic I wanted to depart to the north, and he asked if I wanted a left or right turnout. I said left since right traffic would take me right over New Haven. There aren't huge skyscrapers- but still it is a city and there aren't a lot of options if something does go wrong at 1500 feet.At this point I was really excited, this would be my second solo out of New Haven airspace, and weather permitting, my first solo landing out of New Haven. I had my sectional ready, and tuned Meridan ASOS. Winds 210 at 03. I tried UNICOM for an advisory, but nobody answered. Too early probably. Runway 36 or 18 would be fine, but 36 was arguably more appropriate. Also, I had never landed on 36, so why not? :) I knew it would be exciting to go to an 'unfamiliar' airport (I am signed off to fly here, but just never landed on 36- although I've landed on 18 probably 10 times). And I would do it without my safety net in the right seat! So I made a wide turn north west and came on the 45 for a left downwind for 36 at 1100 feet. Since the airport was unfamiliar, I heard my instructor echoing in my head "give yourself plenty of room". So I made a pretty wide pattern. I turned base and made my call. I was concentrating on not getting too low, but not being too high to get down either. A good mental frame of reference that I've been told is to turn base when going any farther would mean you can't make the runway with an engine out. Your mind somehow understands these things instinctively. I turned final and found myself right on the glideslope. I put in full flaps, cut power a bit and pitched for about 60 knots (it was the smoothest it's ever been for me, so I went for the lower end of the approach speed window). I completely forgot to make the radio call, but the airport had no activity so it was more a "duh" thing than a safety thing. My approach was flawless, and I flared right over the numbers and put it down not long after. Again, I might have flared a touch high, but it was an excellent landing. I could have slowed enough to make the first taxi way, but figured I'd save the brakes since nobody was waiting anyway. After turning off, announcing clear of the active, and doing other after landing stuff- I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. It was pretty exciting to know this plane got here with just me in it, and I wanted to bask in that for a second. I taxied back to the runway, but there is a little 'runup' area so I pulled in, and called my wife and kids. She didn't really get why I was so excited, but was happy for me anyway. I told her I'd be home in a bit. I decided I'd do a short field takeoff, which isn't a bad idea since there is an impressive hill just north of the airport. That went well, and I found myself turning south toward New Haven in no time. After checking ATIS again and notifying the tower I was 10 miles north inbound, they cleared me straight in and told me to report a 2 mile final runway 20. That is pretty much my course! I just held 2500 feet at 2100 RPM until I saw the VASI start changing, and then began my descent. I did find myself balloon a bit when putting in flaps, but brought the throttle back and made a perfect approach and landing. By far the worst part of the day was tying down the plane. It was biblical cold. And on top of that, when I went inside I realized I forgot to record the Hobbs and Tach so I had to go back out! I chalked up an hour of solo time which was my longest solo yet.Today was it- This is what it's all about- Just me, a plane, and a couple destinations. No flight planning, just FLYING. I'm going to do a couple more of these, and I want to see if I can get signed off at a few more airports. I can do my dual cross-country whenever I want, but I don't want to do my solo cross-country until I have more solo time, so I figure if I can solo 5 or 6 more hours in the next month, I will then be ready to push forward. I found myself incredibly comfortable with the plane today- no more "oh my god what am I doing" panic attacks. I think I'm starting to feel like a pilot!

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First cross countrys are always fun!Sounds like an older Bonanza with the flip style yokes I think they stopped producing that one in the 80's. The problem with the Bonanza is so #### small inside that it really makes it hard to have a kneeboard and plates out for approach.

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Thanks again Christian for the detailed posts. I really enjoy reading about your new pilot experiences.JerryG

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