To my deep frustration, I've not done much flying for these past few months.
I was doing so well in the autumn and built on my solo with my first dual cross country flights. My last scheduled training flight was to be my solo cross country from Martin State Airport (KTMN) to Cambridge-Dorchester airport (KCGE).
It's a simple flight with one or two things to watch out for. On climb-out from Martin, don't climb above 2500ft until you've crossed the Chesapeake Bay or you'll bust BWI's airspace. Don't drift too far left (North) or you'll be into the Aberdeen Proving Ground's airspace. That would be bad. Once across the water, climb to 3000ft to ensure you clear Easton Airport when you get there. At your turn point there's a single turn south and a highway to follow all the way to your destination.
Flying over the Eastern Shore of Maryland is a picturesque endeavor. Whilst it may lack the rolling mountains or savannahs of other states, it is a relatively sparsely populated with scattered towns. Sometimes I daydream of owning one of the many farms with a private airstrip that seem to litter the Section Chart in this area. It's just a shame I have no interest in farming.
So, I have managed a couple of trips to KCGE and have had two notable happenings. The first was the radio call as we taxied to parking next to the reportedly great eatery: "Piper Archer taxiing to parking..., the restaurant is closed today". Damn. That was going to be my first $100 hamburger. The second was a radio call as we approached the airport. The FAA impresses on instructors here how important it is to teach students frequent positional reports when approaching uncontrolled airports. So 15 miles out we reported "Cambridge, Piper Archer is 15 miles out inbound to land, Cambridge". At 10 miles out we reported "Cambridge, Piper Archer is 10 miles out inbound to land, Cambridge". At 5 miles out we reported "Cambridge, Piper Archer is 5 miles left 45 downwind to land, Cambridge". As we turned onto downwind, we heard "Cambridge, King Air is 2 miles downwind to land". Really??? Really??? Have you not been listening? As we peeled right out of the pattern, madly scanning for our new close neighbour, my instructor called "King Air this is Piper Archer also 2 miles downwind for Cambridge, what's your EXACT position?". "Oh, Piper Archer, I can see you. I'll follow you." "No, you're good. You're faster than us. We will rejoin behind you". So, a lesson learned then. Make lots of position calls, don't assume everyone else does.
And with my eventful few flights done, I prepared for my solo cross country. Flight planning was simple. I was practiced and confident. As soon as the Archer came out of its 100 hour check, I'd be the first one in and off I'd go. Except, the 100 hour check didn't go so well. Something was found that required the wing to be removed and this took months. The flight school only has one Archer and as I'm bound to the flight school by the TSA Alien Flight Student program, I couldn't go hunting down a replacement. And now, the owner of the Archer has withdrawn from the leaseback agreement he had with the flight school and the aircraft has dropped off their books.
So now I find myself in the New Year looking to change planes and it looks like a Cessna 172 SP fitted out with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit will be my next ride. I'm still not the greatest high wing fan, but I have to admit that I've warmed to the 172 having made a few flights while the Archer was out of service, including taking my parents sightseeing. One of these flights was taking my Father-in-Law up to Lancaster, PA for breakfast. There's a video of it below.
I will say that in the past I've owned one or two cars that I enjoyed looking back at as I crossed the parking lot, walking away. Walking across an airport parking area, slipping the Cessna keys into my pocket gave me a MUCH bigger grin.