Week Sixteen: Solo Nav

I completed my first Solo Nav as the flying ramps up for the PPL. It’s been a busy week and they’re only getting busier, with plenty of flying as the PPL Flight Test¬†edges ever closer. Since last week, I have done the second training area solo, the solo nav check and the solo nav itself. Just being up in the plane a few times by myself has started to ease the stress, I’m a lot calmer now and will no doubt continue to become more collected with time and experience. For the solo I went from the Gold Coast to Casino to Grafton, then back again via Casino. I thought the flight went relatively well with no major problems or dilemmas, the weather held out, traffic was fairly light and I really enjoyed the flight. My landings are probably what need the most work, they are getting better and I know I’m very critical of myself. I want to not just fly a plane, but do it well, smoothly and professionally, and show good airmanship.

The weather was okay, some cloud at around 5000′ as I left the Gold Coast. My outbound track on the VOR came up much faster than I was expecting, something to keep in mind when departing off runway 32 toward to the south west. Heading out to Casino went well, going past the Nimbin TV Towers is probably my new favourite place, such beautiful countryside with rugged cliffs, waterfalls and dense forest. I would love to do some hiking around there or maybe own some land out that way, some of the houses look amazing, away from the rat race immersed in nature. The rest of the flight progressed without issue, however heading back from Casino to the Gold Coast there was a few clouds starting to pop up at roughly 4000′ and I was cruising at 3500′. There weren’t many of them, literally only a few, but it did click the brain up a step. The wind was up a little too so I was ready for things to get bumpy as I came back past the TV Towers and over the range. I didn’t really want to divert out to Mullumbimby or the coast, I could see through to the Gold Coast and made a decision to continue, weighing up the factors at play.

Everything worked out, it was a little bumpy coming back in but nothing I haven’t experienced before. I managed to stay well clear of the cloud and avoided going IMC, but it was a good experience, I really enjoyed dealing with something that wasn’t planned and having to make decisions on the fly. I came back in to the Gold Coast through Brisbane Approach’s airspace which went well, I was on quite a long final which was good practice too. On the whole I really enjoyed it, in fact the last few weeks have been great with plenty of flying, I’m able to start consolidating the skills and procedures to progress forward. I get the feeling the PPL Flight Test will be coming up really soon, although this coming week the weather looks like it might deteriorate as the week goes on, but we’ll see.

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