If you are a student pilot, you will eventually need to do a “cross country” solo away from the familiar surroundings of your home airport. This first solo into unfamiliar territory can be intimidating at first but it will also prove to be a major confidence booster.
Hence, a recent post by Jason Schappert containing a couple of tips for your first cross country solo is well worth reading. Jason’s main point is that you should start with a great plan. In other words, you need to:
– Pick checkpoints you know you can find or have found in the past.
– Start planning early, use the night before to knockout non-weather related items and do the weather stuff the day of the flight.
– Work on your organization, where will you put everything in the cockpit? Remember you have an extra seat.
In addition, Jason has also created a short aviation radio segment where he talked to a reader who was about to do his first solo. In the half-hour segment, Jason gives plenty of additional tips for students who are preparing for their very first solo and hence, the segment is well worth listening to.
Preparation, preparation, preparation… Create a mud map of the flight, visualise the flight at home beforehand either by following the track on the map or flying it in a flight simulator or even in Google Earth. Make sure you have the main events of the flight in your head (checkpoints, area frequency boundaries, CTAF boundaries, etc.) and above all remember to aviate, navigate and communicate. In that order.
My first cross-crountry flight was one of my most memorable aeronautical experiences, I rank it at the same level as my first solo, I got such a fantastic feeling of achievement from finding the destination airport right where I expected it right when I expected it… and all that without a GPS. Magical!