I’ve finally gotten back into “Big Red!” What a great feeling. While I am enjoying getting to know and fly the Cessna 150/152 with my instructor at Falcon, there is just something about the Tri-Pacer that feels like home. I’m sure it’s because the bulk of my training has been in that plane. I met my instructor at 5:00PM for a afternoon dual cross country I had been planning for some time. The plane has been down for a while and weather and schedules haven’t permitted us to fly much, but it was like we just picked up where we left off.
After preflighting the plane and filling up with fuel, we reviewed my route plan and prepared to depart. We recently had a fuel trailer setup for 100LL to fuel Big Red and the other piston planes that reside in the hangar. This is a HUGE benefit. While it’s not terribly inconvenient to fill up at the FBO, it does add time when taxiing down to the pump and back, especially when runway 17 is in use. The hangar we utilize is at the departure end of Rwy 17. Now I don’t have to cross my fingers when checking the fuel quantity (hoping I won’t have to fill up), because the pump is now right next to the plane.
After topping off the tanks, we departed runway 17 to the southwest headed for Auburn University Airport (KAUO). The trip down to Auburn had quite a few checkpoints that were easily identifiable on the sectional chart. In addition we were backing up the pilotage and dead reckoning with GPS navigation via a Garmin 496. It was nice to have the GPS to cross check against, but I was careful not to look at it first and tried to utilize it only for verification of our heading and/or landmarks. We contacted Atlanta approach and obtained flight following enroute. It was good to once again get some practice with ATC radio communications. We notified ATC when we had Auburn in sight, squawked VFR and prepared to land. This preparation included obtaining AWOS information. We also attempted to contact UNICOM for airport advisories, but didn’t receive a reply. There was no traffic in the area to identify the runway in use, so we chose to land on runway 18. This is the runway we were lined up, but rather than doing a straight in final, we circled out and entered the pattern, making left traffic for runway 18.
FBO ReportThe Flightways Columbus FBO was small, but very clean inside and out. There was a cooler outside with plenty of ice cold bottled water for pilots. The restrooms were clean and well maintained. We picked up a few publications that were made available to pilots - a Georgia AF/D and a runway markings pamphlet. Overall, I was pleased with the FBO and the service that we received. I look forward to dropping in again in the future.
We continued to discuss the features of the Garmin 496 for identifying landmarks, updating direct to headings and locating the nearest airports. As we flew a straight in approach to Carrollton, I did get too low a bit early, but was able to make a correction and get back on the glide slope. **Side note: During my excitement of being back in Big Red and about to fly a XC, I forgot to power on my primary camera – the Nflightcam+. So I didn’t capture any over the nose video, GPS data or cockpit audio during this trip. I still have two other angles for most of the trip, so the video is somewhat salvageable.** Here is where I really wish I’d had been recording with my primary camera – as we approached KCTJ, the sun was dipping below the horizon, so my instructor asked me give the mic seven quick clicks. At first I thought I hadn’t done it quickly enough, but then it happened. The runway lights faded on. What a beautiful sight! A great way to end a great afternoon of flying!