I flew today "under the hood" from Addison to Terrill airport Southwest of the Dallas area with an instructor. I did some short field landings and short field take-offs. It was gusty - up to 18knots from 160° - but it was manageable. I did a few great landings and a couple less graceful ones. I made mental notes of what I think I need to work on then the instructor added to this list with his own critiques.

I'm now also reading a small book to prepare for the oral test portion of the check flight. I'm not nervous about the flight check ride. I am a little nervous about the oral exam because there are SO many topics the examiner could ask about.

Yesterday I flew my long solo flight from Addison to Stamper, OK. I almost didn't get to go...

Winds were a tad high over DFW only. Not sure how this happens, but anyway... Winds were 9 knots and gusting at 210 that afternoon. I saw this as perfectly fine so checked out the plane with Sam (hangar mechanic and pilot), I preflighted, got into my scheduled plane, started the engine then saw Sam waving at me. Engine off. He asked me about the winds. I just happen to have gotten an updated ATIS, now 9 knots and gusting at 190. He asked what I was endorsed for crosswinds.

8 knots

What's the current crosswind?

Less than 8 knots


Um... I think. I'm pretty sure. (I wasn't confident at all)

Hang on. Sam talks to Patrick then tells me to check with him directly.

What are the winds?

9 knots gusting to 15 at 190.

Gusting to 15 knots!? You can't fly in that. Students shouldn't fly in winds over 10 knots. The gusts are well over that...

We discussed this for a moment. I was told to wait in case the winds died down some. I was very bummed BECAUSE there won't be another good weather day for a week. And it had already been 12 days since my last flight. I didn't want a long period of time between a lesson and practice.

I waited in the lobby checking weather underground and current metar readings, which hadn't changed at this point.

Long story short, 10-15 minutes later Patrick discretely cleared me to go under the promise I returned before dark (I didn't) and that I was safe (I totally was).

My flight was awesome! I found my visual checkpoints along the way, had flight following from Fort Worth Center, did a superb full stop landing at Durant, found my second leg checkpoint to Stamper, found Stamper and did a good enough landing there (6 knot headwind baby!). I taxied to the airport to text Rusty about my timing and get organized with my flight plan papers.

I did one touch and go at Stamper before departing back to Durant. Along the way to Durant, the sun was dropping faster than I wanted (and blinding me) so I decided to try flying directly towards DUA airport from one of my checkpoints. All I had to do was figure out my VOR course (check) and point the plane in that direction (check). Once I flew off course for this plan, I felt a bit apprehensive because this was all new territory. I was deviating off course by about 15 miles.

Then I saw the airport, gave a loud YES! to myself then called Fort Worth Center for flight following to ADS.

When I got back, it was dark. I lost Addison airport twice before finally locking in the runway. My landing there was superb again. I tied up the plane, called a few people (including Patrick to let him know I was all good) then went home. on cloud nine.

My Take Aways:
Trust what you know. I knew in theory the VOR heading would get me to my point but to see it work in practice was comforting.
Rehearse your route well. Even a second flight deserves review of checkpoints and travel plans.
Be prepared. I wasn't expecting to take off late, thus I wasn't expecting to return in the dark, but I was prepared! I had completed night flight training, I had a flashlight in my pilot bag and I had a well lit GPS dash to get me the last 20 miles home.

next up: written exam, which I got endorsed to take. :-)

I finally broke through the 80s with practice tests for the written FAA exam. I scored a 90% on a practice test, which is good enough to be endorsed for the real thing

I'm working with my school to schedule the real test for next week.

we got to tour Addison's air traffic control tower this morning. We also got to meet some of the controllers. Very nice guys, and gals. It was quieter and calmer than I imagined. I got a number to call for a tour of the Ft. Worth center tower. Mayb this summer we can do that. The rest of the wekend is booked to do camping with the boys.

I am exhausted! I flew a cross country flight today with an instructor from Addison to Hugo, OK. I had been dreaming of making this trip for a long and was THRILLED to finally make it!

No, seriously thrilled. The winds were screaming from the south (averaged 180° gusting to 20 knots) so it was pretty bumpy in areas. Luckily it was all headwind for landings and take-offs. On the landing in Durant, my half-way point, I think I said oh shit a few times right before my beautiful landing. (The plane straightened up last second)

I have to say, I enjoy dead reckoning navigation. That's where you look at what's on the ground to get there. From Durant to Hugo we followed a road and railroad line all the way and spotted a few small cities along the way.

On the flight back, as my instructor warned me, we flew straight to Addison and I had to wear the torture device that covers the view of the ground outside. All I used were the instruments: heading, VOR and GPS. I started feeling a bit woozy in the stomach after an hour of "hood time". If only I had held out for 6 more minutes, I would be done done done with hood time. I guess 6 minutes won't kill me during one of the several check rides I'll take before my final check ride.

What's next? If weather is good on Thursday I'll fly solo to Hugo. If I can score a 90% on a practice test, I'll do my written exam that day too.

My favorite great grand aunt Caroline Caldwell from Hugo, OK.
I love that she matches the plane. :-)



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