Today I woke up early – way way early. Like, before the sun had risen early. Bleh. So to make up for it I decided to boot up the sim and hop into a plane and fly somewhere. No idea what or where I just loaded things up and looked at where my aircraft were. I decided to go with the Cessna 172 parked at Red Lion (N73), fly out to the coast and then up into the hill country of northern NJ to the northern-most airfield in the state, Sussex (KFWN). I knew the weather was decent and figured if I hit a point in my flight where low ceiling blocked me I would just divert to the nearest airport, no harm no foul. The plan for the flight was tossed – I did it all seat of the pants and wrote up the plan attached to this entry afterwards. Worked out fine, this time. Don’t plan to make it a habit just wanted to get in the cockpit and flying before the sun got too high and spoiled my dawn light.
Taxi and takeoff was uneventful although I forgot I still need to tweak the Shockwave3D lights put on the default 172 when they first install – the beacon is too bright and flashes in the cockpit and I have to add a taxi light. Again though – must get flying! I’ll tweak them for my next flight. I’ve also decided to start sticking with the safety suggestion by the FAA that landing lights be kept on below 10,000′ – in the past I’ve only had them on while in the pattern or departing.
Heading out for the coast I had to weave around some low clouds, hanging 5-700 feet over the ground. I dropped down to 250′ so I could buzz the Barnegat Bay lighthouse (which is an accurate model I downloaded off AVSIM then placed properly over the satellite scenery) but I belatedly realized I probably should have waited until I was over the water to fly that low so as not to disturb sleeping residents in the houses below me! Oh well, it’s Monday they should be up getting ready for work anyways.
Up the coast and turning back inland I was once again weaving around clouds – plenty of lateral clearance. Things cleared up for a bit as I left the morning sea mist behind but hazed in again a short while later as I approached the higher elevations. The haze burned off though by the time I was getting ready to enter the pattern for Sussex.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken a flight and it doesn’t take long for me to lose my ability to fly properly in some aspects. Two stupid mistakes I made this flight were 1) forgetting to listen to VOR station idents and 2) approaching my landing runway from the wrong end. I love that second one. It was almost an epic fail because as I lined up for a straight-in approach an aircraft announced it was taking off. Had I not realized my idiotic mistake we might have had a collision. Luckily I realized my error almost instantly – it’s the fact that I was even thinking of lining up opposite the runway heading which is embarrassing. So I swung around in a tight left pattern and was coming in for my landing way too hot – the runway at Sussex has been shortened considerably due to age (they keep moving the thresholds towards the center) so I needed a nice slow approach. To that end, I announced a go around and flew the pattern again – which was okay since I obviously needed the practice. I turned early for my final because I lost sight of the airport rolling out onto my base leg – damn hills. Other than that it was a nice smooth approach and touchdown with full flaps.
I have a new aircraft to review so I’ll be busy with that but I’ll be making at least one cross-country flight in it during testing so once that review’s posted I’ll add the flight log here as well.