Solo Santa Monica to Oceanside

The flight went really well overall. The only scary part was at the very end. This should finish off all of the solo time I need to be a private pilot. Of course, there are other requirements that I’m still working on — like passing a few tests. Speaking of which, I have my written knowledge exam tomorrow morning, so I can’t spend much time writing tonight.

Here’s how the flight went: I met my instructor this morning at about 8:30 to go over my plans. Everything looked good, so I went ahead and filed and got the weather report/forecast. The weather looked great (and was). The winds were light and there was more than 10 miles visibility.

After double checking all of my plans and information, getting the plane ready to fly, and triple checking almost everything, I was off the ground at 10:40. Of course, with all of that planning I still managed to forget some stuff. My first mess up on the way down was not having the frequency ready for flying over LAX. My second was not setting up my navigational equipment before I took off. I was busy trying to get flight following (where the ATC people keep an eye on you), so I ended up flying through without self-announcing. Other than that, the flight went really well. Best of all, I didn’t have any trouble finding Oceanside airport.

I came in and landed and tried to find some place to park. It looked like they’d just gotten rid of a bunch of parking spaces, so I wasn’t really sure where to go. I ended up just pulling out of the way and shutting down. I called the Flight Service Station to close my flight plan (I couldn’t reach them on the radio), and I called my instructor to let him know that I hadn’t crashed. This time I was much more careful to get all of my frequencies ready and set up my navigational equipment.

It’s a good thing I left when I did. On my way out, the frequency was packed with people coming in to land. The flight back was nice. I made all of my turns correctly and stayed on course. The only big problem was when I got back into Santa Monica airspace. First I was told to overfly the airport, make a left 270 degree turn and join the pattern for landing. I could have sworn he said to change that and make an immediate right turn and enter the left traffic pattern. I read back what I heard and did it. I don’t know if I just heard wrong and wasn’t corrected, or if the controller got confused, but their was another plane right below me doing the same thing. Of course, I couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see me, so when I got down to pattern altitude, he was right in front of me. I slowed down for spacing and let the controller know what was going on, and I was cleared for landing.

I had some long stretches where I wasn’t too busy, so I was able to take a few pictures on my flight. Be sure to check them out by visiting my Flickr account.