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Author Topic: First time: Three full-stops at controlled airport  (Read 8340 times)
Chadan
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« on: August 06, 2011, 03:16:49 PM »

Hi pilots and atc. I'm scheduled to complete my 150 nm XC tomorrow and plan to stop at Des Moines Int'l for three full-stops. Is it recommend to call the tower manager's phone a day ahead or just contact approach when I'm ready? I'm slightly familiar with radio ops but am still really anxious about this. Any tips?
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eltors0
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2011, 10:30:16 PM »

Are you looking to full stop and taxi to parking or are you looking to do a stop and go? I don't see why they would have issue unless you are going to conduct pattern work.
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Chadan
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 10:49:33 PM »

well, yeah, I suppose it is pattern work. It's the 3-stop at a controlled airport.
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Chadan
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2011, 01:02:43 AM »

I happened to meet a flight instructor out of Des Moines when I was in Winterset watching some friends skydive. He recommended just radioing in to Approach and stating that I'm a student pilot and I'd like to perform several full-stop landings. They were very cool about it, and helped me navigate to the airport since I lost my bearings while I was up there. I was forced to abort my first takeoff at Des Moines due to a door latch malfunction but eventually got off all three full-stop landings! It was a busy but fun day!!
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t3hwookie90
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2011, 04:37:31 PM »

Congratulations to you and I wish you well in your future flying adventures.
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Chadan
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2011, 06:45:40 PM »

Thanks wookie! It was fantastic, but exhausting! I had no idea how tired I'd be after 3.2 hrs flying.

At the risk of being on the receiving end of another stupid-stick I share the following:

These three full-stops at DSM were combined with my 150 NM XC requirement. The flight started off great: an on-time 8 AM departure with calm winds and a beautiful sky. I climbed into fairly strong winds aloft (for me!) of 35 knots @ 4,500 ft which were forecast and planned for. Heading calculations were pretty close so dead-reckoning was working as predicted and I saw all of my landmarks. Landed at my first airport about 60 NM away: Audubon, IA. The runway was a little difficult to spot being very close and parallel to the highway (and very narrow), but I was able to see it and performed a normal landing. It was the narrowest runway I've seen so I was a little anxious, but dare I say I greased it in  grin

As soon as I landed I attempted to close my flight plan. Checking my cell I noticed there were zero bars for me at this dinky little airport just west of the middle of Iowa. I stopped the plane and went into the FBO to find exactly two working pieces of electrical equipment: a 1960's-style green CRT monitor serving as an automated airport weather station with some wires strewn about the floor, and a coffee maker. I located a phone's handset with one button on it hanging from a nail on the wall, but it had no sound and pressing the button had no effect. The other end of the phone was no where to be found. A note reminded visitors to please leave the computer turned on.

So here I am in a tiny airport with no phone and no means to contact anyone (I know, excuses excuses!) I saw no one in the vicinity so figured my best bet would be to take off for my second leg and call Ft. Dodge over VHF from altitude. I called them several times - 2,000 ft, 2,500 ft, 3,000 ft and never heard a response. I attempted to call traffic that I heard at nearby airports stating 'Guthrie traffic, this is a student pilot with request' to which I didn't hear any responses either. At this point I'm wondering if my radios are working because the radios in our training aircraft are pretty terrible, so if they failed it wouldn't have surprised me one bit. After trying Ft. Dodge one more time I figure I'm close enough to Des Moines approach that I can at least establish communication and ask them if I had the correct frequency for Ft. Dodge.

Des Moines approach responds to my second hail and gives me a transponder code and asks my altitude and position. I'm very relieved to be speaking to anyone! As I'm dialing in my transponder and describing my location and situation I hear Ft. Dodge on my other radio so I say to Des Moines that I'm going to switch back to FSS and will return to this frequency as soon as I am able. They approve the freq change and I get back to Ft. Dodge. I tell them my tail number and he pauses for a minute and says: "You're currently in search and rescue status. Would you like me to cancel that?"

This is not exactly how I wanted to start off my 150 NM solo XC. I'm feeling pretty ashamed then FSS says "I see you've got another flight plan from Audubon to Winterset. Would you like to open that now?" I look out the window to see the Winterset runway and politely decline the second flight plan.

The rest of the day's flying goes pretty smoothly. I completed a few of the most significant milestones for my private pilot's license and learned gobs of lessons along the way. First lesson learned: have a method to contact FSS if you're going to open a flight plan! I understand some pilots cancel the plan from the air as soon as the airport is in view. I may do that, but if the airport is abandon like this one appeared to be, there might not be anyone around to call 911 in the event of an accident on landing.

How do the rest of you handle closing your flight plans at tiny, remote airports where a phone might not be available?
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mikenftsmith
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2011, 08:57:02 PM »

Hey Chadan congrats on your cross country. I usually just close it while I'm still in the air. If i cant raise FSS i try the center covering that airspace or the neatest tracon or tower. Also your instructor might be able too give you some answers. Again congrats  on your flying.
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Chadan
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2011, 12:10:43 AM »

Thanks for the tips Mike. I didn't realize tracon was a legitimate method to close my flightplan. Guess I could have just stayed on with DSM approach and had them close it.
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Jason
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2011, 11:09:38 AM »

How do the rest of you handle closing your flight plans at tiny, remote airports where a phone might not be available?

I usually just ask the TRACON or ARTCC to call FSS and relay the flight plan closure if i can't get reach FSS. Like Mike, I also try to close while still in the air if that's an option.

Congrats on your XC, nice work!
« Last Edit: August 16, 2011, 11:13:34 AM by Jason » Logged
Chadan
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2011, 11:55:36 AM »

Thanks. I guess I meant when flying VFR in remote areas.
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Robin Rebhan
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2011, 04:53:01 PM »

    Always good to have a cell phone and cell service. If you frequent " no cell service " areas you may want to consider a SatCom phone, ain't cheap though.
    I have been in the Adirondacks and out of radio range, no cell service, nobody at the FBO which was locked up, the AF\D said it was open and all I could do was go to a diner down the road and use payphone to cancel flight plan. Since then I always call ahead for info like; Are you open, someplace to get food, crew car, rental car, restrooms open ( wife hates going behind bushes ) and #1 do you have fuel today so we can get out of there!
    It's what makes flying and adventure!  grin
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Chadan
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2011, 06:41:05 PM »

Thanks for the tips Robin. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that it's pretty rare to not have a phone at an airport. I think I just picked poorly. My advice to myself would be to try to choose an airport that offers fuel or other services and to avoid the podunk ones on your first XC!
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Z06_Mir
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2011, 05:39:04 PM »

Congrats on  your XC first of all! Secondly, I wouldn't worry too much about the search & rescue, it happens more frequently than you would think. Personally I prefer airports with full service FBO, even if the fuel is a little steeper. They always have working phones/internet/bathrooms and most of the time someone is there. If you're lucky you'll even get a crew car for lunch!
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Chadan
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2011, 05:57:42 PM »

Thanks Z06_Mir! I earned my PPL since then, but that solo XC is still one of my most memorable experiences. I agree - go for the full-service FBO. I'll certainly pass that tip on to others who are doing their first XCs!

Speaking of crew cars, I took a trip to Omaha for a nice steak dinner the day before Thanksgiving and landed in the nearby Council Bluffs airport, KCBF, where they treated my friend and I like visiting royalty! Lent us the crew car over the holiday at no charge! A very nice airport with very modern facilities, leather couches in the pilot's lounge, satellite TV, huge ceilings, immaculate restrooms, etc. And the president of the FBO greeted us and recommended hotels and restaurants. Adjoining the hotel we chose was a casino where I won enough to pay for the flight! Flew home in very windy conditions on Thursday and cooked a delicious turkey dinner! Turned out to be the best Thanksgiving ever!
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