Last week I took my instructor and another CFI to lunch for the purpose of reviewing my logbook, completing the IACRA submission and to make sure my FAA form 8710 was in order prior to my checkride. Good thing we did this a week prior to the checkride, because the fresh set of eyes found some holes in my logbook times. According to the FAA regulations you must have 3 hrs of flight training in preparation for the practical test in a single-engine airplane, which must have been performed within 60 days preceding the date of the test. My last dual flight was in mid December, so I still needed about 1.6hrs of dual to get to the 3 total. Also, when looking at solo cross country time over 50nm (the only XC time that counts towards the private certificate), I was short 0.8 hours. The remedy? Time to fly.
That afternoon I went up with my instructor to get the remaining dual time required. We flew up to Rome, tested our VOR and then headed towards Cedartown, where the checkride will take place. During this leg of our flight, I got another 0.4hrs under the hood as well. After a few landings at Cedartown, we departed back towards West Georgia, working in some stalls and ground reference maneuvers along the way. By the time we landed back in Carrollton, we had logged 1.7hrs of dual time.
Solo XC Requirement
The weather was much calmer on Saturday morning, so I decided fly my solo cross country then. The plan for the morning was to fly to Gadsden, Alabama (KGAD), which was my original solo cross country. Gadsden is exactly 51nm from West Georgia and an easy flight. The round trip would get me around 1.4 hours of solo XC time, more than enough to meet my remaining requirement. I was careful to plan and fly this cross country much like the one I’m planning for my checkride. As soon as I departed KCTJ, I immediately got on my heading and began timing my flight to my first checkpoint. At my second checkpoint, the town of Fruithurst, Alabama, I was looking for a small town and a set of railroad tracks. When I looked out and down on my left side and verified my checkpoint and had one of those moments that makes me realize how much I love flying. Just as I spotted the railroad tracks cutting through the landscape, I noticed a diesel cargo train winding it’s way through the small rural Alabama town. It’s a hard feeling to describe, a very “Americana” moment. I did my best to get a photo with my iPhone, but it didn’t do the moment justice. As I come to the end of my initial training, this was a great reminder of why I had put in all those hours of flight training and ground study – to experience moments like this passing over the earth at 4,500 feet.
Instead of returning to West Georgia, I flew Big Red over to Cedartown to meet my instructor, who was flying up in a Cessna 182. We rented hangar space at Cedartown to temporarily relocate the Tri-Pacer, due to the runway closure at West Georgia the week of the checkride.
Icing on the Cake
After getting the plane settled in the hangar, we hopped in the 182 and decided to fly over to Paulding County for the cookout that I found out about using the Social Flight app. For this leg of our flight I would read through the checklist in the 182 as we performed our preflight checks to get used to the startup, taxi and takeoff procedures for a different aircraft. After having a grilled hot dog and hanging out at Paulding and chatting with other pilots and the airport staff for a little while, we once again loaded up in the 182. This time I took the left seat. After going through the checklist, we taxied to position and waited for a clear runway. Putting the throttle to the 182 was a good bit different than the ole Tri-Pacer. My instructor had warned me to use additional right rudder, etc. on takeoff – but it still gave me a bit of trouble. Everything happened so much quicker – throttle, rotate, takeoff, etc. I flew the short leg home to West Georgia, trying my best to get used to a different plane. The landing was much better than my takeoff. I looped around to enter the downwind 45 for runway 17, giving me a little more time to get the plane setup. Throttle back, first notch of flaps (electric flaps are a change too). Base turn, next notch. Final, last notch of flaps and trim for landing. He warned me that the nose was heavier in the flare than the Tri-Pacer, which I found to be very true. Without some help from the trim, it would be tougher to keep a nose high attitude at touchdown.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad introduction to a complex aircraft. I’m looking forward to flying the 182 more as I plan to transition to it after receiving my private certificate.