Cross County Flight Training
Soon after my first solo flight, Evelyn Johnson my instructor began preparing me to begin the next phase of training, which was cross-country flying. Now, this training took place long before we had GPS satellite navigation in our aircraft. We were using land based navigational aids such as the NDB (non-directional beacon) and VOR (VHF omnidirectional range) that showed us with some precision, where we were throughout the flight.
Eventually, Evelyn said, “I think we are ready for our first cross-country flight, Eric.” I want you to plan a trip the Tri-Cities Airport for our next lesson. Do all of the planning and conduct a “Weight and Balance” check for the flight. Bring all of your planning to me and we will review it, and then we will make the flight.
The following week I showed up with all of my flight planning materials, and Evelyn meticulously reviewed all of my paperwork. She made some suggestions and corrections but overall, I had successfully planned for the flight. “OK Eric, go on outside and pre-flight the plane, and I will be out in a minute,” she commanded. Soon we were rolling down the runway and climbing out to our cruise altitude of 3,500’ MSL. I leaned the engine, checked out all the of the engine instruments, and turned to my True Heading, which should have taken us to Tri Cities airport.
Soon, were back home on the ground and Evelyn spent some time critiquing our flight and providing me with some really fine instruction. “OK Eric, you did very well today; next flight we will go to McGhee Tyson and then Chattanooga airport for your next cross-country,” she said. “Do all of your planning and let’s discuss it before we go,” she said. That next flight went very well, and I learned quite a bit through some mistakes I made. Evelyn taught me on that flight how I could contact the Flight Service Station in the event I became lost. She also taught me how to use the NDB to track my progress and to navigate using that instrument.
My next phase of training was my solo cross countries, where I took off from that little airport and flew to Tri Cities airport all by myself, and then the next flight which was Morristown to Tri-Cities to Morristown to Knoxville to Chattanooga and back. All of those flights were safe and yet, I learned so much from some minor mistakes. With all of my cross-country flights complete, the next phase of training included night flying and the preparation for my check ride. I will share more about those flights in my next blog post.