Flight Lessons: 3 Point X-Country

I just got back from another flight. Before I tell you about it though, I forgot to post last Friday, so let’s catch up. There’s really not much to say. We made a few loops around the pattern, and then my instructor hopped out and let me go around once on my own. It was nice to solo again, but not as exciting as the first time.

Today’s flight was a little more work. It was a round-robin cross-country starting at Santa Monica, then to Santa Paula, then General Fox, and back to Santa Monica. I thought I’d be leaving later in the afternoon and would have pretty much all day to plan. When I actually sat down at the computer at 9:00 this morning I realized that I was flying at noon which only gave me about two hours of planning time. I rush though the planning and filed my flight plan, grabbed my stuff and ran for the door.

I ended up getting to the airport only a minute late (don’t ask how fast I was driving). I went over my plan with my instructor. It was seriously lacking, but it at least had the directions down. Next time I plan a trip of this size, I need to give myself at least 4 hours for planning. We opened the flight plan at 12:35 (only 5 min. late), and were on our way to Santa Paula.

The flight there went ok. My lack of planning was catching up with me and I felt much busier than I’d like as I was trying to look everything up, and talk to ATC. The pattern altitude at Santa Paula is really low which was strange, but my landing was ok. We didn’t have time to stop and hang out, but we did stop long enough to look at the next leg of the trip and get the radios set up.

On the way to General Fox (just outside of Lancaster), we kept losing radio and radar contact with ATC. Next time I fly there, I think I’ll try to stay higher than 5,500 ft. I came in a little fast to land because I had to descend so much and ended up forgetting to go back to full fuel mixture before making a touch-and-go. Luckily the engine didn’t die, but I’m sure I got less climb performance than I should have.

My plan for the flight back was to go over Van Nuys, but ATC said that it was busy to the West of Burbank and wanted us to go more to the East. They released us about 10 miles out of Santa Monica. Again, I was flying pretty fast (I think I was doing about 130 knots on the way down), but I was able to slow it down before landing. We ended up getting in late, but nobody was waiting for the plane, so that was good.

Overall, I think it was a good flight. I got a lot of practice working with flight following, VOR navigation, landing at new airports, and planning (even though it was rushed).

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