My 1979 Cessna 172N

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Spreading my wings - Cross Country Flight

I haven’t posted in some time so it’s time to catch up.  There has not been a lack of activity, quite the contrary.  I have just been busy with family, work, church, flying and life.  My wife will tell you that flying is my life but then that is nothing new really.  If it wasn’t a full scale Cessna 172 it was radio control and flight simming with Delta Virtual Airlines  so I must concede to the wiser of our partnership and agree with her… flying is my life.  But I still love you honey and I’d rather be with you on a warm sandy beach than flying any day.  We could fly to that beach!  Yeah… that’s the ticket!

Since my first solo flight I have enjoyed another 15 hours in N9478E.  I have flown mostly in the local area between Provo and Spanish Fork airports and even got brave and ventured out a bit.  On November 22nd I passed my FAA written Private Pilots knowledge exam (93% wooo hooo!) and then celebrated with an excursion from Provo Airport, across Utah Lake, around Saratoga Springs and return.  Lonnie came out and waved while I circled the house twice.  It was my first time away from the confines and comforts of an airport environment.

Recently, I have enjoyed flying cross country (what pilots call flight of longer than local distance between airports) flights of distances of up to 500 miles.  On December 10th, a day that will not live in infamy, CFI Bob, my father and I flew from Provo to Delta, Milford, St. George and then landed at Bryce Canyon Airport.  Ruby’s Inn CafĂ© at Bryce Canyon sent a car out (at our request) and picked us up for a fantastic lunch.  I cannot describe the view and the beauty of Zion National Park as we flew over enroute from St. George to Bryce.  FANTASTIC!  This was the first time in a long time that my father has been flying and we had a great time together. 

After lunch we filed our flight plan and took to the skies again, flying from Bryce to Richfield where we bought fuel at $4.39 a gallon.  This is a big deal as aviation fuel can be as high as $7 a gallon at select special places.  Most pilots I know choose to not purchase fuel at those select special places if it can be helped.  St. George… are you listening???  We don’t like your $6 a gallon fuel!!!

I met a mechanic (Mavin Jones) at Richfield Airport who I think I will use going forward when I can.  He spent some time with us and repaired a heater duct which was causing us some issues and did fast fantastic work.  I have already scheduled with him to do some work that latter part of January while Lonnie and I take a little vacation.

The flight from Richfield to Provo was great with no issues and the weather was perfect over the entire route.  All in all it was an awesome day and another 5 hours in the logbook.  I’m now ready for a solo cross country flight.

Jump to now… I was ready and I did it.  Yesterday, December 23rd  (had this planned for December 20th but mother nature decided to show us who is boss with some poor weather), I flew my first solo cross country flight from Provo to St. George and return.  I landed in St. George and had lunch with my son Taylor.  Thanks for the great company Taylor!  It was good to see you and catch up.  Taylor is studying Pre-Med at Southern Utah University, in Cedar City.

Flying 450 miles alone with no one else to tell you what to do is at first a bit unsettling but I have confidence in my aircraft and the training that CFI Bob has provided.  Bob by the way has been a great teacher and mentor in this entire adventure.  I love flying with him and hope to get to fly in his new Mooney very soon.  More on that later.  It was a fantastic flight with a nice tailwind of 41 knots on the way down and a slow return with a 41 knot headwind on the way back.   Bob was flying with another student at Provo when I returned and was unbeknownst to me right behind me in the traffic pattern when I returned to land.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was keeping an eye on me.  You’re always there with me anyway Bob.  I can always hear your voice in different critical phases of the flight; don’t forget that carb heat, maintain traffic pattern altitude and fly the airplane all the way to the hangar and shutdown. 

I now have 22.1 hours and I’m well on my way to the 40 hour requirement.  I’ll take my check ride when I’m ready and qualified and not just at some magical 40 hour mark but it sure does feel like we are getting there now. 

Merry Christmas!  I’m loving this adventure and I’m thankful for the life that God has given me and for the great gift of the birth of Jesus Christ, my King and Savior.