Airborne again

After a long hiatus, I took to the skies again Thursday morning. Since early December, every flight I had scheduled was canceled either because the weather was bad or because I wasn’t feeling well enough to fly. Thursday morning was perfect weather and I was feeling great, so up I went. It was a short flight, just five trips around the airport traffic pattern at Deer Valley, totaling less than an hour. However, it was exactly the kick-start I need to get myself enthusiastic about flying again. Continue reading “Airborne again”

Shut out again

I know the Valley needs rain, but I don’t get to fly much during the week, and the last two weekends have provided less-than-optimal flying weather. We had high winds yesterday and low clouds today. For what it’s worth, the ten-day forecast does look promising for next weekend.

And no sooner it ended

The rain seems to have passed, and the skies are blue again. I’m hearing reports of snow in the mountains not far outside the city. I’d love to rent a plane today and get a bird’s-eye view before it all melts, but I’m afraid the forecast winds are just a little too much for this low-time pilot to tempt.

Flying lesson

I hadn’t been flying in almost two months, so I reserved a plane for this morning, and I took a flight. Although there were no incidents, the flight certainly could have been planned better.

I had originally been planning to fly to Sedona, but after seeing forecasts of high winds, I decided I would fly to San Carlos Apache instead. I hadn’t been to that part of the state, at least not by air, so I thought I’d enjoy the scenery.

Usually I plan a flight the night before I leave. However, I was feeling very tired last night, so I decided to turn in early and prepare everything when I got up this morning. Then, when I got up, I decided to take everything with me to the airport, and do my planning there. Big mistake.

I like to plan my flight and file my flight plan online, but the computers at the airport weren’t connecting to the internet when I arrived. When I was finally able to connect to the internet, the printer wasn’t working, so I had to hand copy everything I’d filed. When I had finished my planning, it was already a half-hour later than I planned to leave.

When I got to the aircraft, everything was starting to go as normal, so I relaxed. I started the engine, taxied to the runway, did my run-up, waited for my clearance, and took off. Everything was going nice and smoothly.

Flying over Roosevelt Lake
Flying over Roosevelt Lake
I was trying to avoid Phoenix Class B airspace, so I flew east-northeast for a while, planning to turn southeast at Roosevelt Lake. Despite the overcast weather, it was quite lovely scenery, and I even managed to snap a few photos.

I had been monitoring the air traffic control frequency for the sector I was in, but I hadn’t requested traffic advisories. At one point, I heard the controller tell an IFR pilot he couldn’t receive the routing he’d requested because it would put him through an active military operations area. I took a quick look at my chart. I was on the boundary of an MOA myself. I called the controller and asked him if the MOA was active. It was. Technically I could have asked him for traffic advisories and continued on, but I had been looking forward to a relaxing sightseeing flight, not dodging military operations. I was also beginning to wonder what else I had forgotten. I did a 180, climbed to a westbound VFR altitude, and headed back to Deer Valley.

The return flight was uneventful, except that I couldn’t reach a flight service station on the radio to cancel my flight plan until I was almost home. Not a big deal. If I hadn’t reached them, I would have called by phone when I landed.

You always hear flight instructors and examiners say the private pilot certificate is a license to learn. I’ll be reflecting on this weekend’s lesson as I look forward to a much more thoroughly prepared flight in a couple weeks.