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Back to Journal Page 42

Flights 39 at SpanaFlight 
(Total: .7 PIC, 44.3 Dual, 1.7 Sim IFR, .2 Night, 1.0 Complex, 174 Landings)


I was watching the weather like crazy all weekend long knowing how important today's flight was going to be.  Yesterday was 70 degrees and sunny weather, and today was supposed to be similar, but again, the weatherman decided to play a trick on me and the weather was low clouds and drizzle.  I headed out to the airport with the firm understanding that there wasn't a chance in hell of flying cross country, and that I would need to rearrange my schedule once again to try to get the first of these out of the way, and then just do some local flying.

When I arrived at the airport, the ceilings were at about 3000 feet, with 10nm visibility.  More than enough for local fun, but as our return flight was planned at 3500 feet I didn't think I had much chance of flying to Hoquiam.  Matt arrived shortly, and stated that he felt that we should be able to make this flight just fine.  I got pretty excited then and grabbed my flight bag and we headed back to finish the flight planning we started earlier this week.

Matt called Seattle FSS and requested a standard route briefing.  That seemed fairly straight forward, and although those briefers can seem to talk at about 100 mph, I was able to jot down all the information in the right order.  We then started the rest of the calculations and estimations for our planned flight.  I changed the altitude for the return trip to 2500 and recalculated everything.

After flight planning was completed, we headed out to the plane and got set up for the flight.  I had preflight done before Matt arrived, so we were able to hop right in and start the plane.  I had my chart and flight plan next to me and Matt made sure I had a pencil handy.  We did the run up just fine, and took off from runway 34 and announced our departure off the crosswind leg.  

Matt took the mic and called McChord AFB to request the transition through their airspace.  Things were pretty quiet around there today, so they cleared us right away.  We were extremely busy during that first 10 minutes of flight with changing radio frequencies several times, dialing in VOR's and NDB's, and just flying the plane.  We arrived at the first checkpoint about 1 minute behind schedule, and we made the turn I had planned there. 

We started heading almost directly west into a headwind.  I got a little off course when I misinterpreted one of the checkpoints, and found it was actually about a mile off my right wing when it should have been about a half mile off my left one.  I checked the DG against the compass and it was ok, but then I realized that I had steered about 10 degrees off course during that leg.  We computed a correction course and tuned to the Hoquiam VOR that we were receiving to track the correct radial into the airport.

About 25 miles from the airport, Matt announced that he could see the airport.  All I could see was haze, but I didn't know what to look for with this airport.  I kept tracking the VOR and after a few minutes, was able to see the inlet of the water the airport was supposed to be on, so I knew I would be close.  We continued and announced our approach to the airport.  Hoquiam Unicom answered stating the altimeter and preferred runway.  I then started my descent to 1000 feet and spotted the runway  at about 7 miles from it.  

I knew that this runway was 150x4999 and was on a peninsula.  Matt stated that this used to be a military airport, but was converted to a GA airport when the base closed down.  Either way, it was a lot bigger runway than I was used to, and I remembered the illusions I got on an earlier flight to Tacoma.  I set up for entry on a 45 to the downwind, and although I should have entered that leg farther out, I did a normal approach and a pretty damn good landing considering I really hadn't flown at all in 3 weeks or so.

We taxied off the huge runway, and I was grinning ear to ear. I know this wasn't a solo or anything, but for me it was an accomplishment after all.  I had done the first half of my cross country and was pretty damn happy with myself for not getting lost or landing badly.  I asked Matt if we could do a few takeoffs and landings here, and he stated he had that in mind already, so I taxied back to runway 24 and took off into the pattern.  I was the only plane for most of my takeoffs and landings, so things weren't pressured at all.  I went and did a pretty good landing and taxied back to do it again.  This time, Matt wanted me to do a soft field takeoff, which I asked him to remind me how to do, as I had only done one before.  

The soft field takeoff was pretty decent, and took the plane around for a touch and go and then performed a soft field landing.  I forgot that at the end, however, and Matt had to prompt me to lift the nose up off the runway.  We then taxied back to the beginning of the runway and decided to start back.  We checked the flight plan, and I got my first course to steer, and we took off and opened our flight plan.

I did a MUCH better job at maintaining the correct course this time, although my altitude control needed help.  It seemed that every time I checked the chart and looked for checkpoints, I would lose 300 feet of altitude and Matt would either correct or tap my altimeter.  I felt like a bonehead each and every time I did that (which is to say I did it several times).

We were following checkpoints better this time, and didn't get off course at all.  I called up McChord this time and requested the transition which was approved again.  I then spotted the warehouses that mark my airport all too well, and turned to head right for it.  After clearing the McChord airspace, I closed our flight plan and entered the Pierce County airport traffic pattern as I had done so many times in the past, and landed normally.  We parked the plane at the pumps, and got out.  As all the blood rushed back into my lower extremities from being trapped in a sitting position for 2 and a half hours, Matt and I discussed the flight, and started discussing the next one.  

We secured the plane and headed in to the office to debrief.  Matt said he wants to do another dual cross country with me before releasing me to go solo for it.  We are going to head out to Jefferson county airport (0S9) and then head to Boeing field (BFI) and then back to 1S0 for next flight, but Matt wants me to do all the planning this time.  I will try this flight on Thursday, weather permitting.  The forecast looks promising, but I know how the weatherman likes to play those little games with pilots.

I had a terrific day and had lots of fun flying.  I can't wait until I get to do this again.  I am going to try to sneak in some solo time this week as well.  Hope I can get an open slot somewhere to do this.

Until then....Journal Page 44



Last Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2000


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