Sunday, March 27, 2011

Going Solo

Well, a few more flights in the log book since my last post, all of them solo.  One of the requirements for the Commercial Pilots Certificate under Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 61.129 are 10 solo take-offs and landings at a controlled airfield (tower), at night.  Well, turns out, my first solo at FlightSafety was to complete this task.  The location for this completion was Melbourne International Airport, about 30 miles north of Vero Beach.  Did I mention this was at night?  A challenge, for sure, but a welcome one.  En-route to Melbourne (KMLB), I got to learn the Cadet all over again.  Without an extra person on-board, the little Piper leapt off the ground, and in-flight, it flew amazingly well.

As the sun set over Florida, I couldn't help but marvel at the beautiful things this carrer keeps showing me.  The golden hue of the sun shone bright on the horizon, highlighting the waters of the Indian River, and melting into the azul waters of the ocean below.

My thoughts could not linger on the beauty of the world around me for too long, as I had a job to do.  Before I could "legally" log the landings at night (one hour after sunset), I decided to do a few touch-and-gos at MLB to get used to the controllers and the airfield.  There was a lot of training activity there, especially from locally-based Florida Institute of Technology.  Among some of the more interesting aircraft on the ground were 2 Boeing 707s, a 747-400, and a US Air Force C-17.  Not bad for a regional airport!

Anyways, my landings went smoothly, and after 2.9 hours in the air, I finally landed back at Vero and put the plane to bed.

Since, I've made 2 more solo flights, both to practice my aforementioned commercial maneuvers, all of which are coming along very well.  Its hard to believe in the two weeks I've been training, I've already logged 10.7 flight hours towards the 18 I've been slated for in the Cadet.  Today's flight was especially rewarding.  Few students were in the air, and the weather was nearly perfect.  A light wind off the ocean kept my concentration, but didn't overwork my skills.  The sky was gorgeous, though.  Large puffy clouds dotted the sky, and the evening light shone through them like rays from heaven.

I returned to Vero Beach to find an unusually empty traffic patter, where I did 2 Touch-and-gos  on Runway 11L, and a final full-stop landing on 11R.

So that brings me to now.  Tomorrow, I am off on my longest flight yet.  Another requirement of the commercial certificate is a 3-leg long cross-country of over 300 miles, where one leg is at least 250 miles (straight line) from the start point.  My plan is to go from Vero Beach to St Augustine, FL (KSGJ), to Albany, GA (KABY) and back.  Total distance is over 660 miles and is calculated to yield about 6.6hours of flight time, easily my longest flight to-date.

So now, a night's rest and an early start tomorrow.  Stay tuned on Facebook for flight-tracking, and right here for a recap of the trip!

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