Short Solo Cross Country

Let’s clear up one thing first – “cross country” does not mean I flew to California. It means I flew from one airport to another. The requirement for the short cross country is to fly at least 50nm away. So, I planned my trip from Caldwell (CDW) to Sullivan County (MSV).

Tom was laughing as I was leaving. I asked him, “What? Are you worried?” and he said, “No. What, I can’t be happy? I like seeing progress.”

MSV is quite an airport. It’s a 10,000 ft runway with all the instrument approaches you might want in the middle of nowhere. It’s pretty quiet over there, so it’s a Class E airport.

I took off of 28, found the starting point near Lincoln Park and turned on course. I did the whole trip using pilotage – meaning looking at the ground and a map. I actually didn’t know my instructor would have been fine with me using other navigation – we always trained for the worst-case. The course took me through our typical practice area anyway, so I was familiar with half the route.

I opened my flight plan with Millville FSS, but didn’t call NY Departure on the way there. I thought it would just distract me and I wanted to focus on flying. Then I realized it would have been nice talking to them. I was just leveling off at 4500ft when I see a commercial airliner fly right over me at 5000ft. Don’t worry, 500ft is the required separation, so it wasn’t too close, but it would have been nice to know.

At some point during the trip, I realized I was having trouble holding altitude. I went through why that might be and found that I was gripping the controls …and that’s where Tom’s voice popped into my head.

There was another person in the pattern, so I watched out for him and landed. I don’t really remember the landing there. I closed my flight plan and took off again.

On the way home, I did contact NY Approach. I had no advisories and cancelled flight following as I was descending below the Class B.

The winds were dead all day. My planning was easy because I didn’t have to calculate any wind correction. But, I got a bit nervous coming into Caldwell because the tower said the winds were (something like) 5 gusting to 11. I hadn’t done crosswind landings in a while. It was a straight-in for 22 and I kept in mind the crosswind. It may have been the smoothest crosswind landing I’ve ever done, with the upwind wheel touching first.

When I was packing up my stuff, I found myself laughing to myself. I did it. I did everything. It didn’t really occur to me earlier, but that was a whole trip I piloted and I’m just about done with my training. I then realized why Tom was laughing earlier.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW — MSV -
To: CDW
Duration: 1.6