Friday, February 15, 2008

First Dual Cross Country

Yesterday we flew our first dual cross country. I flew the 172 (N183SP) from Melbourne (MLB) to Okeechobee (OBE). Flight time was 35 minutes. For this cross country we used pilotage and dead reckoning for navigating. I really enjoyed navigating this way. Although the trip was short, it is interesting to see just how accurate the sectionals are. I managed to stay fairly accurate to the estimated airspeed (105 kts.). I was surprised at how quickly the checkpoints arrived. Once I calculated the time it took us to get from our first checkpoint to the second, it was time to look for the next checkpoint. After the next checkpoints, Casey asked me if I could see my next major landmark. Well.....if you look at a map of Florida, there is this gigantic body of water in the south central part of Florida. I pondered for a few moments and looked at my sectional only to see no more checkpoints, but I did not see anything that jumped out at me. Little did I know that about 15 miles in front of me was the huge lake of Florida known as...well....Lake Okeechobee. Once I saw that, I knew the airport was close. We had an uneventful landing and went inside to have some coffee and take a short break. They had a complimentary coffee/cappuccino/french vanilla/hot chocolate....you get the picture, machine in the lounge so I enjoyed a french vanilla and managed to scald the tar out of the roof of my mouth so needless to say nothing tasted the same for the rest of the night. On our way back to Melbourne, I got a little off course because I read from the sectional a bend in the Florida Turnpike that was a bend off to the west so I was flying about 5 miles west of our ground track. Other than that, the trip went fine for my first one. What did I learn? Don't focus so much on too much detail in the sectional. See the big picture. The sectionals are very detailed and when something is just off of the right of your ground track....it really is...just off to your right. The scale is much closer than I was thinking. Also, stay ahead of the airplane. I always know this, but easier said than done when your 3500. And the last thing - get a kneeboard so you’re not fumbling with everything when the ride is bumpier than expected. Our next cross country scheduled next Thursday is from Melbourne (MLB) to Lakeland (LAL) to Orlando Executive (ORL) and back to Melbourne. I have already started plotting the course. I should learn a lot on this one seeing as how both LAL and ORL are Class D airspace.

-Greg

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