Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Flight "Going Somewhere"

On Friday, May 11, I took my first flight "somewhere."  That is, it was the first time I got in the plane with a particular destination in mind and not because I was fulfilling some specific training requirement.  I lifted off from KPWK at about 8:30 in N378MA, a Cessna Skyhawk outfitted with one of those Bendix/King GPS systems that I have come to loathe.  I could not figure out how to input a flight plan, and that was annoying.  Not being particularly interested in spending more time figuring it out with the engine running and my wallet thinning, I elected to use the "direct to" function once I hit the Lake Michigan shoreline.  Once there, I set my first waypoint and called up Chicago approach for flight following.  Interestingly, I never managed to pick up flight following during my training but found it to be pretty straight forward. 

My first stop was KISZ - Cincinnati/Blue Ash Airport.  It seems that there are some rather controversial plans in the works to close this particular airport, and I wanted to put it in the log book before they did so.  My wife and I attended graduate school at the University of Cincinnati, and my initial plan was to return with a large payload of Graeter's ice cream.  This stuff really is the best ice cream I have ever eaten.  However, Blue Ash seems to lack an FBO with crew cars or ability to get anywhere.  Allegedly I could have rented a car, but I did not even try to figure that out because I was not going to pay a day's car rental to drive a 12 mile-round trip that would have taken less than an hour.  My emails to two of the FBOs on the field went unreturned.  Guess business was booming... except it was not.  While I was there I saw all of one other active aircraft.  Granted, I was there a short time.  I think I will have the store ship it to me instead. 

After picking up flight following again from KISZ, I was cleared into the class Bravo airspace on my way to KAID in Anderson, Indiana.  This was another first as Chicago's Bravo is so busy that they really don't want to deal with pesky VFR traffic if they do not have to.  Between KISZ and KAID, I was running parallel to another aircraft at the same altitude and speed.  KAID is very close to KMIE, which was the other plane's destination.  Normally this type of thing would have worried me since there is no such thing as a mid-air fender-bender, but since he was on the same frequencies as me I knew what he was up to and where he was going.

Once on the ground at KAID, I met my best friend from college, his wife, and two kids and then we had some nice conversation and food.  Now, this is a very good excuse to fly... hanging out with my friend and talking about stuff that matters.  I just need to work on getting my directions right.  As I approached KAID I stated that I was to the southwest of the field... except if you know anything about the geography of the area then you know I was coming from the southeast.  I didn't initially protest when I was given a strange instruction - to enter a right downwind for runway 18.  Odd choice, except it made perfect sense if I was coming from the direction I told the controller.  When I questioned the instruction, it was clarified where I was really coming from and the controller says, "well, that makes a difference, doesn't it?"  Ya think?  Already feeling sheepish, I didn't complain when he asked me to stay on a left downwind for Runway 12 to following a Hawker.  I had to extend my downwind so far that I could see my college Alma mater.  Guess that was worth it.

As I prepared to return to KPWK, I kept calling the tower at Anderson but was getting no response.  I pulled out my A/FD and confirmed that it was still supposed to be open.  Finally, someone was kind enough to tell me that they were closed for the day.  Dandy, please make a note of it in the A/FD will ya?  I rocked the wings a bit as I lifted off to "wave" goodbye to my friend and headed back.  It was a simply beautiful day for flying or whatever else might tickle your fancy. 

Today was also the first time I used my iPad for charts.  Gosh, was that a heck of a lot easier!  I hate paper charts with a passion though I certainly have them handy should lightening strike twice and both the GPS and iPad fail at the same time.  I found it easy to put the iPad on my lap and follow the string of reference points. 

It was a great time, and entered 5.1 hours in the logbook - the most I have ever flown in one day.  Good times.  Now I remember why I started this journey.

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