I have awaited the cross country portion of my flight training for a very long time. The idea of flying from place to place on a map rather than the usual “hey let’s fly to the practice area” lesson was really exciting to me. There is something fulfilling in actually flying to another airport rather than just doing flight planning for the fun of it (am I the only one that does this?).
The flight was from Brantford (CYFD) to Tillsonburg (CNQ4) for a touch and go then off to Kitchener-Waterloo (CYKF) for a low approach then back home to CYFD.
I arrived at the airport a few hours early with most of my planning done (as much as one can do before the weather brief). I knew from previous experience that it would take me about an hour and a half to finish up so I gave myself plenty of extra time. Once done I handed my planning to Shea and then went to pre-flight the airplane (C-GINS if you’re wondering). Upon returning to the warm embrace of the flying club’s building, Shea and I sat down to go over my planning. Seems I had chosen the flight altitudes based on true headings and not magnetic, oops! Not a big issue but still something I will remember for next time.
We took off and headed towards Tillsonburg. My excitement was mounting giving myself a mental “high-five” each time I matched a feature on the map to one on the ground and vice-versa. It looks nothing like the map from up there! 🙂 As we passed Norwich and approached CNQ4 my excitement turned into a sort of frustration: I could not for the life of me find the airport. Shea had to point it out three times before I finally saw it. Granted everything was covered in snow and not as green as in the picture below.
We did our touch and go and headed north-east to CYKF. It was easier to find, mostly because of the 401 running very close to it. We had to orbit for about 10 minutes before we were allowed in the control zone. It being a nice day everyone was out flying, especially the kids from the Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre. The controller was very nice and patient with me as she pointed out numerous landmarks which would have been known to someone from they city but to which I had to respond “Negative, GINS is unfamiliar with the area.” (Go flight sim terminology go!). After our low approach we headed back to CYFD, landed safely and completed the flight. Another one for the books!
Overall the cross country exceeded my expectations in terms of awesomeness. I came back with a feeling of great accomplishment: this was the flight I had to postpone for more than a year and now here it was, complete. Map reading and recognizing landmarks in non-populated areas was a real challenge and it is one that I will face for a few more flights. My previous experience with ATC and in a control zone while flying at CYHM really came in handy during this flight. I can see how those who have trained exclusively at an uncontrolled airport could be overwhelmed by the sudden need to fly and follow ATC directions.
All in all it was a great flight! Next up, the solo cross country!