Now that I have my private license, I look back and all I see is good memories and experiences from my training. I want to share one of those with you today: flying a cross country.
Ever since I had my first class in cross-country planning, I knew that cross-country flying was something I was always going to enjoy. Time, fuel, wind correction angles, groundspeeds… all those were hard to figure out at the beginning, but with the time it became easy and even fun to calculate them. Planning a long flight takes time, but once you are in the air… its rewarding to see that everything is going exactly how you planned it.
Here are some tips I have for you to plan a safe – and hopefully fun – cross country:
- Use updated charts and AFD. Don’t give it a chance to encounter unexpected surprises! (HINT: PGD – Charlotte county airport– now has a control tower. I almost missed it during one of my flights because I was using an old AFD)
- Check the frequencies you’ll be using. Look up the frequencies you’ll be listening to while on flight following and have them written down in case you get lost or miss a frequency change. (HINT: Use this chart! Courtesy: Lynn U School of Aeronautics)
- Look up runway length for your destination airports and also LAHSO operations. If you need to do a short-field landing, make sure you know ahead of time.
- When choosing a cruising altitude, keep in mind that there are VFR cruising altitudes. Don’t pick an IFR altitude if you are flying VFR – that might be dangerous. And take a close look at the winds aloft chart and pick the altitude that’s best according to the winds forecasted. (BE ahead of the game. Don’t let your instructor get you on that!)
- Pick easily-recognizable checkpoints along the route. Something you feel SURE you are going to see.
- If you have trouble while flying, remember the 4 c’s: Confess, Communicate, Climb (better radio reception), and Comply. If you are lost… ASK FOR HELP!
There are many other factors that contribute to a safe flight…But this quick checklist of stuff you should keep in mind. Have a great flight!