|2005/10/03 Longer Solo|
π 2005-10-03 00:13 by Merlin in Flying, Nflying
After my first solo cross-country, which was a bit botched (I found out after the fact that I did it in 1.4H, which is probably some kind of record in a Cessna 172SP :) ), so I had to make sure my next X-country lasted long enough (I had to have a combined time of 5H minimum).
My co-instructor, Sergey, recommended Visalia , which was not all that exciting, but was far enough :) The exciting part was when I saw a jet airplane take off soon after I landed, and wondered why I never heard about him on CTAF, the frequency I announced myself on when approaching the airport and landing. When on the ground, I found out that I had messed up when picking up the airport info from the FAA airport list I had, and picked up Visalia Sequoia Fld (D86) instead of Visalia Muni (KVIS) . Doh!
Anyway, after checking on the ground that my right fuel tank was indeed emptying too (my plane was mostly emptying the left wing, and the right wing gauge was pretty flaky), I headed for the next point: Castle Atwater Airport (KMER) . That was a more fun destination due to the 11802 foot (3.5 kilometres) runway. This runway was about as long as my plane could climb in altitude, which is also close to the altitude where you need extra oxygen if you stay too long.
What was almost funny is the amount of time I had to taxi on the runway before I found the first taxiway that let me exit :)
The funny thing is that as soon as I landed, I recognized the sound of autocrossing, and indeed, American Auto-X was having an autocross on the other side of the runway. First I thought about walking there after tying the plane down, and then I realized that it would have taken more than 30mn to walk there :)
I ended up taxiing the plane there (which even at a "fair" taxiing speed, took a while :-D), and I wasted the rest of the Autocross ( picts here )
The fun part of being at Castle/Atwater was the aviation museum, and its walking tour narrated on tape. That made the trip well worth it. I even got to talk to a former pilot during the war, who showed me some cool stuff in the cockpit of an old bomber. All the pictures are here .
Eventually, it was time to head back. I wrestled with the auto pilot for practise instead of flying straight pilotage (I did the rest of the trip without GPS, just using landmarks, and one VOR for verification), and got nowhere with the auto-pilot (either it didn't work, or I was not able to couple it to either a VOR or the programmed GPS heading: it kept wanting to go somewhere completely different).
After a few landings at Livermore (KLVK) to burn some time, and not very fruitful steep turn practise, I got back at Palo Alto (KPAO) with more than 4.2H of flight, which is perfect for what I needed.
The pictures from the flight are here