You mean I can actually go places with this plane by myself? The other day I did my first solo cross country. It was incredible, I would definitely put it right up there with my first solo. There is just something different about leaving the pattern and heading to somewhere far away (well 54mi). I did it in a Cessna 172SP which was equipped with a KLN-94 GPS. I programmed my destination into the unit but then shut the screen off so I can rely on the VOR navigation. After taking off from Caldwell I tried to raise NY on the radio for flight following. However I could not get them. At first I thought something was wrong with my com but after tuning in the ATIS for Caldwell I was confident my systems were functioning properly. So I ended up flying there without flight following. It was a perfectly clear day so I just made sure to be extra vigilant about scanning for traffic.
I didn’t even see any other planes along my entire route there. I did have a bit of trouble tracking the VOR on the way to Huguenot but eventually locked it in. The winds aloft were also stronger then forecasted. I was only making 89kts for ground speed. I began my descent to Sullivan when I was about 10-12mi out, I also made the first call in on CTAF at that point. The AWOS radio told me surface winds were 310@4kts so I chose runway 33 for the landing. I made the approach for a downwind entry but ended up making it very short leg so I was almost immediately turning on base. Of course I was making frequent calls with my position through out the entire time in. Once I was on final I determined I was a bit high so I chopped the throttle and let it sink. This runway has a 4 light PAPI so determining my glide height was pretty simple. The landing was smooth and short. I made the first turn off but that isn’t saying much because it was quite far up, the runway is large at 6300×150.
I made my way to the main ramp and decided to shut the engine down, something which I quickly regretted. My instructor told me to call him when I landed and I figured it would be easier to talk if the engine wasn’t wailing in the background. After I hung up with him I proceeded to start the engine. For anyone that is unfamiliar with fuel injected vs carbureted engines they can be hard to get started when they are already warm. Especially for me apparently Mr Novice Pilot. After several tries cranking, reading the POH and all sorts of combinations of priming and not priming it finally kicked on. The first time I had trouble starting the engine I was with my instructor so he let me know what I should try but for some reason I either forgot what he said or was doing it all wrong.
Once the engine was back on the flight home was straight forward. What was interesting was that I heard someone else trying to reach NY approach on the same frequency I had tried earlier. I tracked Huguenot to and from then made my way to Boonton reservoir. That is right outside of Caldwell’s class D ring. I was given a right downwind for 22 and proceeded on in. That landing was also pretty good but not as perfect as I would like it to be. I guess I feel like landing at my home airport I should have some advantage or something. Apparently my lack of skills, the plane and winds disagree all disagree with me on that one. It was a great flight and I definitely can’t wait for my next assignment. Bring it on Mr Instructor man.