Today was my first solo cross-country. I thought I would be more nervous than I turned out to be, though I admit I had trouble falling asleep last night. But, I’d been to Bolton with Pete a couple of times, and we did a few laps together this morning, including a simulated emergency before I set out, so I was feeling pretty comfortable with the airplane.

I launched at about 9 am local time for the 30 minute flight to Columbus and called the Dayton Approach frequency, advising that I was a student solo, to get flight following. It was a very cool morning, with the clouds reported at 8,000′, but there were airliners complaining of moderate ice as low as 9,000′ so I stayed at 4,500′. Climbing out Cesar’s Creek lake was off to my right where it was supposed to be and started to get the Appleton VOR. I never turned to get it dead centered because ATC always wonders why I’m turning away from my course, but it was coming in, and I could tell by rotating the OBS that I was within a couple of miles of my course and had I-71 in sight the whole time, and landmarks like Greene County airport and Wilmington airpark where easy enough to see.

Before I could make out the Columbus skyline I was handed off to their approach control, and could very soon pick out both the city and the airport. They were landing to the north, and the controller went ahead and gave me the weather at Bolton, saving me dialing in the AWOS. I requested lower and frequency change, and once I established contact with Bolton tower they asked me to report a 2 mile final. I was immediately cleared to land and made pretty decent touch down and taxied in. The woman at the FBO was also getting ready for her first solo cross-country, and see took my picture and pulled out her sectional to see where I’d come from. After going to the restroom and getting some water (and texting Pete and Beth that I was safe at Bolton) I was back in the plane.

The only real gaffe I made on the day happened after departing Bolton. The controllers were very busy working airline traffic, and it was hard to get a word in. By the time I did they almost immediately handed me off to Dayton’s controller, and I was slightly flustered. He asked me to report I68 (my home airport in sight), and instead of telling him I would, I told him I did. He didn’t believe me (check out the video or audio). I reminded him that I was a student, and maybe a bit nervous. Otherwise the trip home was just as smooth. Well, there were a few bumps close to Lebanon as the wind started to pick up, and a lower cloud layer was starting to appear, but I had no difficulty at all. I picked up the lake and asked for lower, and almost immediately also saw our tank farm (the unofficial entry point for the southerly downwind for runway 1). No one else was flying. Pete had made it back to the airport before I arrived, and I taxied in triumphant. It’s been over 10 years since I started this journey, and the end is near. At least, the beginning of the next chapter.

As a Postscript I’ll say that I used CloudAhoy, and iPad application, for the first time this flight, and it seems like a fabulous little app both for students and their instructors, but also for keeping a log of your flights. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of installing an APRS unit in your plane, this might be the ticket.

Second postscript is my camera ran out of juice before I took off on the return trip. I have audio both ways, and video of the trip up though.


Bolton FBO

Me at the FBO





Posted By: Brett Ferrell
Sunday October 7th, 2012 at 8:29 PM

Categories: Blog Flight Training
Tags: Blog Flight Training

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