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My real life flight training continued... all my x-countries done!

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Guest christianholmes

Well, this is a much needed update- with everything going on in my personal life, I haven't had much time to post since these updates take awhile, but it doesn't mean I haven't been flying.Last Wednesday, I booked an 8:00 flight for me and the instructor to Stewart/Newburgh Intl. which is southwest of Poughkeepsie, NY. It was a bit hazy and VERY warm- still in the high 80's on the ground when we took off. I stuck to my headings, and got flight following on the way there. Since it's just over 50 miles it would be hard to get lost, but the controller had a light load and was giving us vectors- nicest NY controller I've seen yet. The only concern was the engine running really, really hot so we had to cruise slower and climb a little shallower. If you've never been to Stewart- its home to a couple of squadrons of the big boys- C5As, or Globe masters- it was hard to tell. The runway we were cleared for is a massive 11,000 foot concrete slab that is actually an alternate for the space shuttle. Each end has a 2,000 foot displaced threshold. It was the easiest landing ever- not exactly a postage stamp. I swear the rollout to the first taxiway was close to a minute. So we taxied back, took off, and I decided to just use the New Haven VOR on the way back which we picked up soon after takeoff. Got flight following on the way back from the same controller. It was glass smooth up there, and the speckled lights around the countryside give New England a truly lit-Christmas-tree look. I love night flying- but it will be a while before I am completely comfortable with it. We got back around 11, and I went out and had a beer.Next, this past Sunday, I booked my other short solo x-country which was to Danielson. Honestly, as far as flying goes, it was a pretty boring, uneventful flight. Danielson is about 55 miles from New Haven up in the North Corner of CT. It is a small, uncontrolled field. I found the way there using some prominent landmarks (I know I could use a VOR, but if I am ever going to use pilotage it is now, so I might as well try it). I made a nice landing and rolled off, and as I started down the taxiway I noticed some cones. I stopped the plane and upon further examination it appeared the taxiway had been ripped up for some repair work. There was a Saratoga sitting there with his engine running, so I asked Traffic if I should turn around and then back-taxi the runway. A couple people told me affirmative, so that's what I did. The flight back was uneventful, and I actually found myself a little bored. First time ever that happened-So fast forward to today. After a week of really busting my butt at work getting stuff done, the weather looked like today was going to be the day I was hoping for. Clear skies, 10+ vis. 10 knot winds. I had to get the guilty feeling of ditching work out of my head. This would be the last day like this that I really need to play hooky (what does that even mean?).So after planning three legs- leg one from New Haven to Worchester, leg two from Worchester to New Bedford, and leg three from New Bedford to New Haven- I realized I HATE flight planning. It's so tedious, and all the calculations required end up being squarely inaccurate once you start flying. I suppose the real purpose is to find your headings, and mostly to make sure you are within the safety margins for fuel and distance, and that you are not unknowingly infringing on controlled airspace. I was actually pretty nervous about this flight- this was the longest I had gone yet. The first leg was 76 miles. So after the pre-flight and refueling, I climbed in, strapped in, and started setting up my stuff on the right seat. I put my timer on the right visor to remind to switch tanks every half hour. Although I usually forget to start it, or don't look at it until after a half hour. But no big deal- as long as you don't end up with the tanks being 200 lbs different. On the seat I have my checklist, sectional, AFD, plotter, kneeboard with blank paper and pencil with eraser. The last thing allows me to copy down ATC clearances and frequencies which I do before I read them back. Today was a little cooler than it had been, but it was still hot in the plane on the ground, so we usually leave the door open, and the side window open until holding short. Well, I almost forget to close it, and was already at full throttle on the runway before I locked it. So, no more of that for me :) If it was on the checklist fine, but with everything else going on, I'm not relying on my brain to remember something like that. After that excitement, the rest of the way up there was uneventful. You could see for a million miles. I took some pictures that I will post later. I was at 5500 for most of the flight, but as I got into Massachusetts, there was a broken layer at 5500, so I went down to 3500. It got really bumpy. I can remember when that made me nervous- but no more- I can definitely say turbulence doesn't bother me at all anymore. Worchester tower told me to report a right base for one one, so I looked at my drawing on my nav log, and setup the approach pretty perfectly. I made a nice landing, although I was right of the centerline- I think there was a little crosswind I didn't compensate for, but it didn't matter much. One weird thing I noticed immediately is that the runway slopes uphill- not like some airports where you see a little uneven pavement, but I was sure that looking ahead the crest of the runway had to be 50 feet above the horizon. I taxied off delta, and told the tower I just needed to park for a minute. They said just do a 180 and hold short, then contact tower. I just switched nav logs, and was ready to go. Tower cleared me for an intersection delta takeoff, so this must be a big runway (I forget to look). It was a little unsettling as I approached the crest not knowing where the runway ends, but I was off the ground before the crest, and climbing out over the city of Worchester soon after. Beautiful airport. I've been to Worchester, and there are nice parts, but you could see some nasty looking industrial sections. I think I dated a girl there once- Assumption College? Got to love those Catholic girls hehe... So after climbing up to 3000 to stay below the clouds, I started following some roads on the sectional. Shortly after I saw Providence, and swung around it to avoid the airspace. I thought New Bedford would be hard to spot, but the lack of trees expose that straw-like brown Rhode Island grass, so it stood out easily. I had visual about 20 miles out. I checked ATIS and called the tower as I came over Fall River. He told me to report a left downwind for runway five. It was a busy day there- there were several other planes coming and going, and in the pattern. I was concentrating on my approach, and called him on downwind. He cleared me number two behind a Cessna. As I am on base, a Cessna calls and reports a two mile final. He tells the Cessna to look for me, and me to look for the Cessna- and as I turned final, he wasn't more than 200 yards behind me! He had me in sight, and as I touched down the tower controller asked me to expedite for the landing traffic. As I turned off the first taxiway, I looked back and the Cessna was touching down! The controller was very busy and just told me to taxi to parking. I didn't know where that was, so I just went straight until some guy waved me to parking. I told him I need gas, so 15 minutes later after a stroll through the FBO picking up some brochures, I had paid and I was ready to depart again.The flight from here was long- 91 miles, but it was the best part. I would be heading south-west to fly over the city of Newport, R.I. (Sailing capital of the world- and one of the busiest and most exciting seaside hotspots in the world) I took some pictures to show my friends tomorrow since I will be there for a wedding. I then flew along the R.I. shore and along the CT shore until the New Haven DME came up at about 40 miles out. The sky was beautiful with a scattered broken layer now inland, and the sun was shining. I had Providence Approach watching for traffic for me, so I turned up the radios to make sure I didn't miss any calls, and just enjoyed the flight. Back at New Haven, the tower cleared me for a left downwind for runway 14- which am a somewhat short runway with an approach directly over a residential neighborhood- this is not a runway you want to come up short on, as on final you are just about 100 feet over houses. I put down a greaser, and felt a huge sense of relief. My back was hurting and I was eager to get out. I tied down the plane, threw my stuff in my bag, paid, and took off for work (it was almost 2:00 by that time).So, now I can book my check ride for about 3 weeks out! I still a bunch of flying to do with the instructor to get ready- but most of my requirements are out of the way. I AM SO EXCITED. This dream I've had since being a little kid is almost a reality.

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ditto here--enjoy all Chris' updates and they are one great reason why this forum is worth visiting...-John

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Thanks again for these updates! I very much reading your details - it's like being at right right side in the cockpit.JerryG

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