After flying

First Solo Cross Country flight

Sunday was a beautiful day for flying. I have been preparing for the day where I get to fly around solo for over a year now. I’ve always been fascinated with flying, and have been interested in it as a hobby. I took several introductory flights, even flew a Robinson 22. Now I’m going for a Sport Pilot license. The idea is that it takes fewer hours of training compared to a Private Pilot. It has some restrictions such as only flying during the day, and limited to one passenger. The end goal is to be able to fly a Gyrocopter. I’m in no rush to get my license and only go flying when I have some free time.

Now back to this past Sunday and the solo cross country. Here’s the flight plan that I created:

First solo XC flight plan

In the top, you see the little sheet the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) printed out for my flight. I visited the tower after my flight, and he gave the slip to me as a souvenir. More about that later. I also have my yellow sticky note that I wrote down ATC instructions while in the cockpit.

In a Cross Country for a Sport Pilot, one must make a 75nm trip with landing at 3 airports where one leg of the trip must be at least 25nm. Sounds complicated, but it’s really not too bad. There are lots of nearby airports, and it’s just solving a variant of the travelling salesman problem. If you’d like the spreadsheet I use for my NavLog, you can get it here. It’s set up for the Piper Sport which is the plane I fly, but it’s trivial to change to any other plane. Below is a picture of me after my very first solo take off and landing:

Very first solo flight

Before any flight, it’s a really good idea to hit the restroom. At Beverly, they just got brand new bathroom signs. How fitting. It’s a whole day of new things. New signs, new experiences.

Bathroom signs at Beverly flight school

As for the solo flight, I stayed relatively close to the plan I set out to do. I managed to stay outside of air spaces I’m not allowed in, and avoided other airplanes. The plan was to take off from Beverly, fly towards Bedford, land at Norwood, fly back over Bedford, land at Lawrence, then fly and land back at Beverly. The total time took about 1h30m. You can also see the elevation of my data in the flight at the bottom of the image below. I recorded this data using a GPS logger on my cell phone.

First Solo XC flight path

You can watch the shortened version of the 1.5 hour flight here (if you watch it on YouTube, I’ve put interesting timepoints in the description):

With the plane tucked away for the day, time to head out to see what the good folks do in the tower. There are all sorts of scary signs like the one below which you must pass through to get up to the tower.

Beverly Tower entrance

Once in the tower, the view is really great.

Beverly tower selfie

You can also see the little slips of paper on the board that list the other planes flying around.

View from the tower

Post your questions and comments below. I’d be happy to answer them.
-András

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