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Prep for 150NM Solo

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the requirements to getting a Private Pilot License is to fly at least 150NM solo, stopping at at least 3 airports. I’m planning on doing that tomorrow! (This was unbeknownst to me when I arrived for a lesson today…communications isn’t one of my instructor’s strengths 😉

So we also wound up stopping at 3 airports today…first a quick stop a Carroll County (KDMW) airport. Then a return visit to Clearview (2W2) and then to Fredrick Municipal (KFDK) airport. I think the trip to Carrol County was to ease my instructor into believing that I could do the Clearview landing again, as it is a short 1840 ft and very thin 30 ft strip with some obstacles on the approach. Carroll County was OK nothing great, was too fast and high for a short field test so we did a go around and I landed fine but my instructor was not impressed. He did let me do the Clearview landing again so we head off to there, (they are very close to each other). I came in a bit high and also a bit fast but nothing bad and I though it was quite reasonable. No praise from the instructor, but I had fun. We take off for KFDK and now the fun really starts.

I had never been to KFDK and it, like KGAI, is another uncontrolled airport but KFDK has a quite large 5220 x 100 ft runway. We get about 10 miles out and it seems like the radio was just not stopping with maybe 5 planes in the air or taking off all from runway 23. We were also headed to runway 23 (of course all due to the wind direction which was 190). There was a seminole, a piper, a citation jet, and I think another cessna all at various positions. My instructor basically took over the radio communications and we were very busy looking for traffic and talking. It was nuts!

Nothing got close but it was clearly a good example of trying to maintain good situational awareness and figuring out what the hell is going on out there. We took a long loop around to approach 23 on the 45. I was somewhat confused about which direction the 45 was supposed to be, there are two perfectly valid 45 degree vectors you could approach a runway, of course only one is correct! I think I now have that lesson figured out. We get onto the 45 for runway 23 just behind a multiengine seminole zipping along faster…at the same time another plane is on short final. We do a somewhat long downwind leg to give the seminole time to land but just then a citation jet calls in that he’s 10 miles out, but he’s a jet so is probably moving rapidly. We turn to base then final and hear the citation say he’s 2 miles out. We decide to do a touch an go rather then a full stop to help him out since we weren’t planning a visit anyway. We do the touch and go just fine. We take off and both go “WHEWWWWW” busy busy!

We head back to KGAI and I manage to confuse my approach on the 45 to the runway we desire. Instructor is not happy and I am confused about what the hell he is telling me anyway so not an impressive approach to the airport. Apparently another plane was on the upwind to cross wind for the same runway and with my confused 45 we might have had problems if not corrected quickly. I just wind up turning from the wrong 45 to downwind, now the correct downwind leg and continue the pattern. Instructor was not a happy camper, but I was just working on the pattern came in and land fine and all was ok. Afterwards in a little debrief we talk about the issues and all is fine. I think I understand the whole approach on the 45 and the correct 45 now and tomorrow…it’s off to a long solo, going to Lancaster, then Fredrick then back to Gaithersburg. Should be fun!

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