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. :-)



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