First Solo Cross Country

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Sat. 6th October 2001

A "cross country" is defined as a flight to a different airport (land and stop) with a distance exceeding 50 nautical miles. Cross country training is very important, navigation is all important in these flights. Navigation with minimal instruments (or none whatsoever) is a skill to shoot for. While GPS has made navigation a breeze, GPS units do run out of batteries (yes, there are many stories of hopelessly lost pilots with dead GPS units).

By the time I arrived at the stage of doing my first solo cross country, I had done two long flights with my instructor. One was to Tucson, and the other was to Prescott. The solo flights would be similar, hence I was not too apprehensive. 

[The rest of the story is a little boring, the second cross country was better]

I was instructed to go to Tucson International (TUS) and stop there. Then go to Ryan Field (RYN) and perform a touch and go, and find my way back to Chandler Municipal (CHD). I spend hours honing my flight plan. I had everything memorized. I knew what to do. Thanks to meticulous planning, everything went quite well.

I called Vikram, who lives in Tucson and set up a lunch date with his family. On the Saturday morning I reached CHD and called Prescott FSS for a weather brief and took off on time with no incidence. I opened the flight plan with Prescott Radio as soon I was airborne and then headed direct to Tucson, on the Victor Airway. There were a few brief moments of concern – specially when some plane dropped a cartload of sky divers on top of me while i was flying over Eloy (or that’s what it sounded like on the radio).

Nearing Tucson I called the approach controller of TUS and was cleared to land on runway 21. Runway 21 is the "shorter" runway and crosses the two long runways used by the "big boys". As I sailed over to make a base entry for 21 I had a great view of the Davis Monthan Air Force base that shares the class C airspace with TUS.

The approach and landing was uneventfully. Vikram was there at the airport with family. His daughters ran out to check the plane out. They were actually in quite a bit of awe, as they were told I was flying in, specifically to have lunch with  Vikram as it was his birthday. 

The birthday

All in all -- nothing to write home about.