April 05, 2004
First Solo Cross Country
If I have one bit of advice for future first-timers: when planning, PLAN ENOUGH NON-FLIGHT TIME! I was hoping to squeeze the trip into one 1.5 hour block, my planned flight times were all within a minute of actual, except maybe on climbout, but I got back home over a half-hour late. The plane wasn't fueled when I got to C81, so that took up some time. Then I took about 10-15 minutes to 'decompress' in Watertown's Wisconsin Aviation facility. And finally, there were some pattern shenanigans and a go-around at C81. Oh, and pre-flight and run-up x2. It all added up.
I felt bad for whoever was supposed to have the plane after me. Someone was on the schedule, but no one was standing there with a mad face on and the FBO folks didn't seem to mind. But I still feel bad and worry about the hit my karma will take because of it.
All part of the learning process, I guess. I added another block to my reservation on Monday when I hope to do the LONG XC. If I don't end up needing it, so be it. Better than the alternative.
And yes, I knew as soon as I lifted off on the return that I could and SHOULD have called C81 and let them know I'd be late. Not only would it have been the polite thing to do, it would have taken the pressure off worrying about being 'late.'
It was totally amazing to get in the plane by myself, fly somewhere I've never been before, and find my way home. It was totally amazing that by following along on a map with my finger, the airport ended up smack in the middle of the windscreen. No GPS, no navaids, just plain old pilotage. I got a little off course on the way home because I didn't pick up my first checkpoint right away. But when I saw I was approaching East Troy directly from the north instead of at an angle, I knew something was up and I corrected for it. You can see my 'mistake' on the GPS plot.
That's what flying is about. Picking a destination, looking out the window, and flying there.
Click for a larger image.