So the fact that I’m a certificated private pilot is beginning to sink in a little. Although I was able to fly solo as a student pilot, the accomplishment of getting the license and proving that I was proficient enough really changes things. I feel more confident in my abilities with the airplane, although I make sure to never allow myself to feel over confident. Since taking the check ride almost two weeks ago, I have gone on to start my instrument training, but I have also taken it a bit easier for a little while, giving myself and my brain some time to relax after a grueling zero-to-private pilot dash in just over 4 months.
Last Sunday, I planned and flew a cross country flight down to Cape May NJ, and visited the NASW Aviation Museum. The flight was a straight shot, about an hour each way. Pretty uneventful for the most part, although it was the first time I was cleared into Bravo airspace on my own! When I landed in Cape May, I taxied off and parked at the Flight Level FBO. I was greeted at the airplane and told them that I wanted to visit the museum for a while before departing. They chocked my wheels, and gave me a lift over to the museum. Very helpful, and I wasn’t even charged a landing fee — Thank you!
It was around 11AM on a Sunday morning, and I was one of the only people at the museum. The
weather was beautiful and I was surprised there weren’t more people. I guess it becomes busier as the summer rolls in at the Jersey Shore. I paid a $12.00 admission fee to the museum and started a self guided tour of the exhibits. It was very cool to walk in there and experience all the aviation history as a newly minted pilot.
There were some great exhibits and awesome aircraft – including a F14 Tomcat, F16 Fighting Falcon, and Vintage Boeing-Stearman PT-17 Biplane. They also have many interesting helicopters (mostly Vietnam era) and other interactive displays and special exhibits. I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area or looking for places to go while in flight school and looking to build cross-country time.
In another exercise my new private pilot privileges, I took my first passenger up for a flight — my Mom! She has always been interested in aviation and is a complete supporter of my career change / aviation ambitions. I had planned a cross country flight out to Pennsylvania, where we could land and grab lunch at an airport restaurant overlooking the field. We arrived at the airport, I got a weather briefing, and pre-flighted the plane. Although it was VFR conditions along our entire r
oute, there was marginal VFR reported at Allentown, PA, not to far north of our destination. Along the route, there was also visible precipitation (rain) on the radar. I decided that we would not be heading out on the cross country flight due to weather. Seeing as we were already in the plane, and the local conditions were just fine, I decided we would go up for a quick flight around the practice area we use at the school, and then out over the town of Princeton, NJ. We took off and climbed out to the Northwest, and then flew out over Doylestown, PA. I have been showing Mom pictures, and telling her about the places we go and the maneuvers we do, so I wanted to show her the area from my perspective. We did a 180 over Doylestown and headed back east to New Jersey. The air was very smooth, and I could tell that Mom was having a great time. We crossed over the Delaware river and headed direct to Princeton, were I entered a 30 degree bank turn to the right, giving Mom a birds eye view of the grounds of Princeton University and the Princeton Tiger’s Stadium.
From here we headed back to Trenton Mercer Airport, where I was told to enter a right downwind for runway 34. As we entered the traffic pattern I talked through the traffic pattern procedures and it was nice that our touchdown point was off our right side, giving Mom a great view of the airport. All our turns were to the right also, and I could sense a bit of uneasiness from Mom as we turned base and then to final, seeing as the view from the passenger’s window was of more ground than sky during those maneuvers. Then just like that, we were on final, right on glide slope, no winds and smooth air. We touched down on runway 34, and mom said “I’ll fly with you anywhere!” Haha, nice to hear. Taxied back to parking and my first passenger flight was a success.