Flight Lessons: Solo X-Country

First, another catch-up blurb. Last Thursday, I did a little more solo work in the Santa Monica pattern. I only got three times around before the sun went down and I had to stop. I was able to do a couple solo touch-and-goes for the first time.

Today was a big day. I made my first solo cross country. The route was from Santa Monica, to Santa Maria, to San Luis Obispo, and back to Santa Monica. Everything except the weather went better than I expected.

The weather had been worrying me for a few days. There was rain forecast, then it wasn’t, then it was again. Other than that, I was pretty worried about my radio work. It can get pretty busy at times, and they like to throw four digit numbers at you pretty quickly (both frequencies and squawk codes).

The weather was pretty rough. I only got a little rain, and was able to stay under the clouds (most were above 8,000 ft.), but the turbulence was exhausting. I’m pretty sure it would be classified as “light to moderate”, and it wouldn’t have been so bad if it was only for a few minutes, but most of the flight was choppy.

On the other hand, the radio stuff wasn’t too bad. When I first requested flight following out of Santa Monica, I got handed around a few times, but it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t mess up any of the squawk codes, and I only got one frequency wrong. I got tongue-tided a few times, but I’m sure it’s nothing they haven’t heard before.

The two new airports, for me anyway, were pretty cool. They both have two runways (I used both at Santa Maria), and they’re pretty good size. I didn’t have trouble finding either of them, but the GPS helped out with that. I’m really supposed to be more focused on using the VORs. Overall, it was a good flight and I’m looking forward to doing more cross-country flights.

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