I flew my first real cross-country flight this week with a teacher. The route was Malmi (EFHF) – Turku (EFTU) – Tampere (EFTP) – Malmi (EFHF) and the whole trip took about 3.5 hours. The weather on Thursday was perfect and the trip was great!
Flight planning for this trip took a little bit longer than before, because I had to prepare three operational flight plans, one for each segment of the trip. (I explained the OFP in a previous post: Flight planning.) I prepared everything I could the previous day and then woke up really early in the morning to do the rest of the calculations once I got the wind information for the day.
Before the flight I had a brief, as usual, with the teacher. We went through the flight plans and the route, and also the radio communication since we were flying to other controlled aerodromes for the first time. After about an hour we left for the plane and we took off from Malmi at 1032 local time.
The first leg to Turku took an hour. It went fast. There’s so much to do in flight, chart reading, filling out the OFP and trying to keep the plane on heading, that time always seems to fly. Landing at EFTU went fairly well. Even though the runway width (60 m) is double the width at Malmi, I managed to make a decent landing. When you’re used to a certain runway width and then land on a wider runway it’s easy to mistake your altitude being lower than it actually is and this can cause you to start the landing flare too early.
Walking to the terminal in Turku I had a funny feeling, the kind you often have when traveling by plane to faraway places, about suddenly being in a different place when you step out of the plane. I hadn’t yet actually landed at another airport and it all felt new. I was pretty excited about the whole thing – I had just flown to another city!
After we had lunch and checked the latest flight information, it was time to get back to the plane and head for Tampere. On this leg we were going to climb to flight level 75 (7500 ft=2300 m). We got the clearance to climb straight to FL75, but before we took off something pretty exciting happened again. A Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornet took off as we were at runway holding point. “OOG, line up runway 08. Expect take off in 2 minutes due to wake turbulence.” This doesn’t happen at Malmi! By the way, I love Hornets. Below a few photos I took last summer at the Midnight Sun Air Show at Kauhava military airport (EFKA).
Climbing to FL75 took about 20 minutes. Before that the highest altitude I had flown at was 2500 ft. FL75 felt pretty high. I almost got fear of heights in that little Cessna! We only had about 8 minutes in that altitude before we had to start the descend, but the point was to get up there to fly the ATC route and to fly the whole leg in a controlled airspace as well as have radio communication with Tampere radar which is responsible for the area. The communication was slightly different than what I have been used to so far. It was all good experience. The descend took 14 minutes and then it was time to land at EFTP. The approach wasn’t as nice as I would have wanted, I was in a little hurry in the end, but I landed safely anyway. It was time to taxi to the fuel station.
Three more Hornets flew in formation at EFTP and landed while we waited at the fuel station. At EFTP it is an everyday thing to see Hornets. I however get excited every time I see them. They’re amazing.
It was the first time I fueled the plane by myself. At Malmi we always get fueling service. It was like fueling a car, but you have to climb up to do it. I’d get pretty tired fast of going to the fuel station if I had to climb on top my car everytime I pump gas.
We took off for the final leg at 1450 local time. About 20 minutes into the flight, I suddenly experienced a simulated engine failure at 1400 ft (430 m). I quickly trimmed the plane to fly airspeed 60 kt (best glide speed) and started looking for a place to land. There was a field on my left and I decided to go there. “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY, OH-COG, engine failure..” Then the teacher told me to go around at about 700 ft. The elevation in the area was about 300-400 ft so we were pretty low. I find the emergency landing exercises extremely useful. The more I do them, the more I build an attitude that it’s not a catastrophe in itself. The plane still flies. Of course depending on the altitude, you might not have much time, like in this exercise. If you remember I did the first exercises at 2500 and 2000 ft. It was quite a big difference compared to this.
Contacting Malmi tower on the last leg felt like coming home. The trip was awesome, but it also felt good to come back home. I was expecting to be exhausted after the trip, but I felt great. I suppose I’m getting used to traveling in a Cessna. In a near future I will do this trip all by myself!
Lately I have also flown an uncontrolled aerodromes flight. The route was Malmi (EFHF) – Hyvinkää (EFHV) – Lahti-Vesivehmaa (EFLA) – Malmi (EFHF). I did two touch-and-gos at EFHV and EFLA, but not a full stop landing. It was a nice flight also, but I have to admit flying to controlled aerodromes this week felt like I was really going somewhere. I have also flown basics of radio navigation. The objective was to practise the use of the radio navigation equipment, VOR, DME and ADF. Lately I also flew some traffic circuit solos. I did my first solo spot landings this week. I was a little anxious before, it had been a while since I had done them and now I was doing them by myself, but they went really well.
All in all our PPL training has advanced well. Right now I only have ten flights left according to our syllabus. Time flies when you’re having fun.