Flight Lesson 23: Uncontrolled Airports

Today  I practiced navigation using the sectional maps (pilotage) and operations into uncontrolled airports.

We departed runway 28 at CDW and flew north.  Our first stop was Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1).  From the preflight weather briefing in the area, I knew that the winds were predominantly from the north west.  I took a look at the sectional during the flight and saw that runway 6 would make most sense with the prevailing winds.  I listened into the CTAF and heard there was traffic landing on runway 6 so I was right after all.  I took a look at the sectional in order to get an idea of the field elevation and traffic pattern direction before I started my descent and entry into the traffic pattern.  The field elevation was 790 feet (1790 feet traffic pattern altitude) and runway 6 used a right pattern.  With the information, I haphazardly entered the downwind at my best attempt at a 45 degree entry.  Tom gave me a pointer that I should fly over a dam (Monksville Reservoir dam?) as a waypoint to enter the downwind at a 45 and that the downwind coincides roughly with some power lines.  We landed at 4N1 to a full stop and departed again on runway 6.  Tom handled most, although not all the radio communication as we announced our intentions over the CTAF in the pattern and the ground.

After departing 4N1, Tom instructed me to fly to Warwick (N72).  We tuned into CTAF to listen in on the traffic and Tom didn’t like the conditions so then he told me to fly to Randall (06N) instead.  Using the sectional and whatever landmarks I could find, I tried to find Randall but couldn’t.  Tom suggested to go to a higher altitude which can help with finding the airport.  We then entered a standard right turn and circled a couple of times above the farmland in order to regain our bearings.  It is so much easier to keep a constant standard right turn in real life than in the simulator.  I eventually identified 06N so we head there and I repeated the same procedure I performed when landing at Greenwood Lake (listen to the CTAF, determine the active runway, traffic pattern altitude, and direction of traffic.  We flew close to a hospital during the left base for runway 28 which I remarked is convenient in case we crash.  This wasn’t my best landing but we got on the ground in one piece.  Tom again handled the majority of the communications over the CTAF.  It seemed I was preoccupied with landing at this unfamiliar airport.  I was really surprised by the waviness and elevation changes of the runway.  We taxied back to the active and took off to head back home.

For some time, I flew toward a body of water which I thought was Greenwood Lake but I realized was the Hudson.  I then correctly identified the right landmark and flew in the right direction without Tom telling me.  After getting CDW ATIS and contacting CDW tower, we were told to enter the left downwind for runway 4 which we did and landed.  My only mistake during my approach into CDW was I descended slightly below 1700 feet when flying over Lincoln Park airport which wasn’t very safe since you want to be at least 500 feet above their pattern altitude (1182 feet).  I was too fixated on another task (reading a sectional) which I need to do a better job of avoiding.

The flight went well enough that Tom scheduled the pre-solo checkride with Tomoharu (another instructor at Fischer) for this week.  I’ll need to review the maneuvers and hopefully get some more flights with Tom beforehand.

Logbook Entry N5253R (C172)

Flight Details

CDW to 4N1 to 06N to CDW