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Guest christianholmes

My real life flight training continued... 3 part update...

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Well, I have kind of been in flight training limbo for a little while now:As you all know, the official FAA standards require that I do a certain number/type of things before I can take a checkride. On the simple end, I need 40 hours. I forget the exact numbers, but I need a certain number dual, solo, x-country, etc. I think I need 3 instrument, 4 night, etc....After I soloed, I needed to work on my solo time- so I have been doing a lot of flying around, pattern work, hopping to the few local airports I am signed off for. I have gotten much, much better at the workload- which is definately the hardest part. By workload I mean: maintaining situational awareness such as airspace, traffic, location, etc plus flying the airplane and talking to ATC, FSS, Approach, and remembering the 100,000 things that the instructor just says to 'keep in mind' like remembering to switch fuel tanks, turning off the a/c lights when exiting the runway, not overpriming, exiting the pattern in the correct manner, etc. There is ALOT more to real life flying that flight sim would have you believe- at least if you want to do it safely.So- the standard 'syllabus' (so to speak) that most instructors follow means after you solo, you start working toward your x-country flights. Keep in mind that x-country actually means 50 or more miles. Instructors usually each have there own way of getting you through the requirements, and it's probably the way they learned. In my case, my instructor informed me that I would do 3 solo x-country flights- 1 from New Haven to Poughkeepsie, 1 from New Haven to Danielson, and one long x-country of my choosing. The latter being 'long' because it must have 3 or more legs and one leg must be 150 miles (I think- I haven't gotten there yet).Before you do your solos though, you must do the flights with the instructor so he can show you the proper way to flight somewhere where some sort of navigation and planning is required.A few weeks ago we did the dual XC to poughkeepsie. To sum it up- when doing a XC flight the 'required' way, you can't just take off and zoom in the general direction. You need:A navlog complete with visual waypoints, directions, distances, etc. You use the current temperature and the POH for the plane to get takeoff info, time-to-climb etc. Then you need to get the winds aloft data for your flight, and use that to compute wind correction, ground speed etc. And then you can calculate ETE, ETA, etc. You should also get all the info about the destination airport, and even draw a little diagram in the notes field of the navlog. I use Jeppesen nav logs- the school has them in abundance. Just before you are ready to go, you call Flight Service and get a weather briefing for your route. These are experienced briefers and can tell you more about the weather than you could figure out staring at METARs for hours. After that, you file the flight plan with them. You need to tell them the time you are leaving, number of people, route (direct in this case), color of aircraft, etc.Once you take off and turn on course, you contact Flight Service (FSS). You find this by the AFD, or listed on the sectional. In our case, Flight Service has different Transmit and Recieve frequencies- this is weird- basically, you tune Comm 1 to transmit on a particular frequency, and you recieve their transmission by tuning a VOR, and listening to the VOR. You can see this on the sectional by a small frequency in the corner of the VOR frequency box that is followed by and R. That is the frequency THEY recieve on- not you. All you do is give a brief call "Bridgeport Radio... Warrior 38316". They will come back and ask you to go ahead. Then you just say "38316 would like to open our VFR flight plan from New Haven to Poughkeepsie". You can add a time such as "at Eight Thirty Local" if for some reason you couldn't call for 15 minutes after you took off. Next, you must contact somebody for flight following. In our case it's New York Approach. I think it's always the nearest approach controller, but I could be wrong?With approach, You need to 'lurk' on the frequency for a minute or so to make sure everyone is done talking (VERY busy frequency) and then just like flight service initiate the contact with their title, and your callsign. They will get back to you when they have a chance- which can take a minute or two. They will then ask what you want, and you tell them what where you are, and what you want- which is VFR advisories (flight following). I've heard on a less congested frequency, you can just say everything at once, but everybody I've spoken to has said that's a bad idea. Wait for the controller to get back to you before you tie up the channel for 20 seconds- which is alot on a New York frequency. "New York Approach, November three eight three one six 6 miles northwest of New Haven, clibming through 3,500 for 4,500 VFR to Poughkeepsie. Request VFR advisories." Then they will give you a squawk code and maybe tell you to ident. You need to readback EVERYTHING to these guys by the way- don't assume anything. "316, Squawk 1732 and ident". Then it may take a little time for them to get back to you, but they will tell you "radar contact" and will give you some instructions. From then on out- just do what they say. When you are getting close, they may cancel you, but if not you can call them and tell them you would like to cancel flight following, and they'll say OK and tell you to squawk VFR. One word of advice- HAVE A PAPER/PENCIL READY if you are getting flight following. The reason is that they will likely hand you off to different controllers, and you don't want to forget a frequency- If you mis-tune a frequency, you need to know what frequency to go back to, or somebody is going to be ######.Also, along the way, you are supposed to write down how long each leg took you, etc. That requires a timer of sorts which I didn't have- It just came from Sporty's yesterday. It will also remind me when to switch tanks which is good since I tend to forget. I will probably time the legs when I go solo, but won't bother filling out the navlog until I get back.I managed to find Poughkeepsie no problem- I rarely flew directly over a checkpoint, so what I would do is correct myself each checkpoint, and re-align myself on route- So each checkpoint I was back on route rather than just trying to compensate by guessing a new heading. I had a nice landing, but it was too cold to get out, so we called FSS to close the flightplan from the taxiway. I wanted to get out- to make it feel like I had really went somewhere. I guess I will save that for my solos...I didn't bother to do a navlog for the route back since I know how to do it, and quite frankly, it's a little useless (other than the checkpoints anyway). I just reversed course, and watched for the landmarks in reverse. I think it took about 30 minutes each way- not bad considering it's a 3 hour drive!We landed back in New Haven, and I was glad to have my first of 6 xc's out of the way (2 short solo, 1 long solo, 2 dual day, 1 dual night).Yesterday, I did my second xc to Danielson! Again, fun, but otherwise uneventful... except for one 'slight' mishap... As I was finishing the run-up/takeoff checklist, I set the transponder to ALT. I see my instructor reach up and tune the knob after I moved to set the DG. He goes "oh crap, they're gonna kill me". I look up and he's got the knob in his hand! Worse part is that it's stuck in standby- so no transponder. That isn't a big deal except we couldn't do flight following. It was a fun flight anyway. The airport is really hard to spot which is why he sends people there. We ran out of time so we didn't get to do a diversion, which I have to do before I can solo XC. So I went today and we did the diversion training. I called work this morning and gave some terrible excuse like my dog was sick. Considering I took yesterday morning off too to fly it didn't look good. Good thing is I got a ton of stuff done yesterday so he was actually fine with it.The diversion training is basically "your destination is socked in- change your flight plan to somewhere else". You need to find your current location on the sectional, and find the course to your alternate. Using an E6B you then need to calculate your wind correction angle, TAS, GS, time, and fuel burn. Then just fly there.My instructor tells me to take him to Robertson. I stare at the sectional for a minute, and find nothing. He shows me where it is- which makes me feel stupid, but in real life I would be deciding the destination, so it doesn't matter. I am trying to find some landmarks for our new route, and can't find anything meaningful other than Middletown, which is now off the right wing. He is hinting at something and then finally tells me to look two miles east of the airport on the sectional. I see the symbology for two gigantic towers. Oh... those... right... Turns out they are 2300 foot radio towers (AGL!). I am flying along look ahead, and don't see anyting. I glance out the right window and see these two massive radio towers almost up to our altitude (we were at 3000). I said "uh, are those them?". He was like "how many other 2500 foot towers are in our vicinity". Honestly though- how would I know, this is my first time flying here. So he then asks where the airport should be. I look at the sectional, and then almost straight down to the left. There is an airport with the writing "ROBERTSON" on the taxiway. Ok, almost flew over it! Oh well, now I know better. I can't see the windsock, but I see a plane taxiing runway 2. I descend and setup for a 45 degree entry for the left downwind for runway 2. The plane is literally sitting at the threshold. I remember all my radio calls, make a good approach and touch down about 300 feet down the runway. Not on the numbers, but definately good enough for me- I just need more experience. I taxi back to take off, and that plane is still sitting there. As we get closer, I see the plane spin around, and turn back onto the taxiiway. What is he doing? My instructor says he thinks the guy is moving over so we can get by. But why is he facing the wrong way? So I wave, and pull up to the hold short line. All of a sudden, the guy jolts forward, and goes racing down the taxiway back toward the hangars- He was doing about 30 knots- I said "Is he going to takeoff on the taxiiway?" Then he slams on his brakes, and the planes takes a left turn toward the hangars with the left wheel barely on the ground. I was like "What the #### was that? Did he forget his wife or something?" My instructor just says, very calmly, "Welcome to uncontrolled airports". Haha. Ok, so I do a short field take off, and we head back to New Haven- which I can just barely make out on the horizon. I see Meriden directly ahead and decide I can't overfly an airport and NOT land on it! I mean- how disrespectful would that be? :) After a quick short-field landing we depart back to New Haven.I had to pay for last 3 flights today- they know me so I don't have to pay everytime, I am allowed to have a standing bill. I would rather pay each time though- Seeing a $537 bill hurts. Nobody said it was cheap! And now I have an ever growing credit balance to show for it! All for little lines a book right?But I am poised for my biggest challenge yet- I got the go ahead for my first solo to Poughkeepsie! I am really, really looking forward to this. I am signed up to do it Saturday, but I don't think the weather is going to play nice. If not this weekend, then hopefully next weekend, etc... due to the costs I am going to start slowing down- I want to finish by spring sometime, and got most of the laborious stuff out of the way. Unfortunately, between the night xc, and the 'checkride preperation' stuff I am going to have to fly with the instructor alot, which is expensive. So I may take a break for a month or so just to recuperate, and then do my other xc solos, and a few local solos before I start the pre-checkride crunch. I still have to take my written as well.So, the end is nigh, although there is alot of distance to cover first!

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