Long Solo Cross Country

This was like the short cross country packed with more airports, more miles, more communication and more fun.

I planned a trip from Caldwell to Allentown to Sullivan County and back to Caldwell – a total of 170nm.

I used the GPS, but I didn’t really know how to use the GPS. So, after my run-up, I spent a good couple of minutes trying to get it working. I finally realized that it was two units and the second one wasn’t one. derr. Once I got that on, I plugged in “Direct to KABE”  and was on my way.

All went smoothly. I transitioned through Morristown’s airspace, then opened my flight plan, and then contacted NY Departure as I was leveling off at 4500ft. The GPS took a huge load off. I was able to spend more time looking for other airplanes and less time looking at the ground and my map. I was passed off to Allentown Approach, then another controller, and then Allentown tower. The landing was a bit of a plop. I think the wide runway threw me off and I leveled off too early.

I closed my flight plan, got my clearance out of Allentown’s Class C, and waited a little while for other traffic.

Always talk to ATC! I’m glad I was getting flight following from Allentown on the way to Sullivan County. About 10 minutes after I left Allentown, the approach controller said “677DM, traffic 12 o’clock 2 miles same altitude converging.” It was pretty hazy, I couldn’t see the other plane, and that’s exactly where I didn’t want someone to be. I said “not in sight” and the controller said “I advise you climb.” So I did. I climbed 400ft to about 5,900ft when the controller said the other traffic had passed on the right. I looked, but didn’t see him. And the pilot of the other plane, who wasn’t talking to ATC, will never even know.

The rest of the leg was less eventful. I was passed off to Wilkes-Berre Approach, which I failed to even consider in my planning. In fact, I think I was so focused on planning that first leg that I didn’t give enough attention to the other legs. That really became apparent after I left Sullivan County. I tried to get Millville FSS on the radio to open my flight plan. I was listening in on Stillwater VOR. After trying three times, I realized Stillwater VOR is too far. I switched over to Huguenot VOR. I got an answer, but it was from Islip FSS. “Shoot,” I thought. I had totally failed to plan that I would be speaking to a different FSS. It worked, though.

I made it back to Caldwell to a seemingly frazzled controller. I reported 10 miles to the north and she asked me to Ident. Another guy calls from the east and she asked him to Ident. Then a third. Man, it was busy. I was originally assigned a right base for 22, but it was switched to a downwind entry. I heard another plane coming in from the west and recognized it as my instructor. “Ooo.. I better not screw this up,” I thought. Tom gave me the right of way and I turned towards the downwind. The controller told me of traffic on the downwind. He was basically crossing my path, so I told her I can do a 360. She said, nah, just keep it wide. So, I flew basically next to this guy on the downwind leg. He did a short approach and I went long. Tom happen to come in right after me.

And that is a big step closer to getting my license.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW – ABE – MSV -
To: CDW
Duration: 2.6