The day started for me at home with a review of how to plan a flight, necessary flight calculations, learning about weight and balance, and checking more about the airport we were going to fly into. It was a little stressful for me the first time going over how to plan a flight, it's a lot of steps. I'm sure it will all become second nature with more practice.
Arriving at the airport, I knew I was in for a big learning day. My instructor and I went over how to plan out a VFR flight step by step. We started by mapping out a course in pencil on my sectional from KOFP Hanover, to the Flatrock (FAK) VOR Station, to KFVX Farmville Municipal Airport. Along the way, we chose some landmarks to use as checkpoints (they are shown in the image below). We calculated the weight and balance for the plane, which went fine. I had already had some experience with CG/weigh and balance calculations. Next, we calculated speed, flight times, and course between each of the way-points. Finally, one thing I found especially helpful after receiving the advice from my instructor, was to draw a sketch of the airport I was about to fly into. The quick drawing included the runway (with directions, length, and width), wind socks, and taxiways.
After filling out the VFR flight plan, I called the 1-800-WX-BRIEF number for the first time to file a flight plan and get a standard weather briefing. I was more nervous about calling than I should have been. It really was easy. The man who I spoke with knew I was a student pilot and was fine walking me through the information, he took it slow, which I greatly appreciated. It's an amazing thing that we as pilots have the ability to call for a weather briefing specifically for our route of flight.
After getting some water and finishing up the pre-flight checks, we were ready to go. The weather was much better today than my last lesson. It was still windy, but not nearly as turbulent. We flew from KOFP Hanover to KFVX Farmville today using the VOR Station FAK (Flatrock) for navigation on the way out. Using a combination of VOR, GPS, Pilotage, and Dead Reckoning, the flight went smoothly, and I learned a whole lot. There was a decent amount of turbulence, which was annoying, but nothing too bad. I was amazed at how accurate the flight planning was. Passing by each waypoint, we were only about 1 minute off... which is pretty good for a first run!
10 Nautical Miles out from Farmville, we made a call on the CTAF Frequency 122.8 to announce our position. We checked the weather which read that winds were from about 050 at 8kts. Based on this, we chose runway 3 for landing. Beginning the legs of the 1,400ft pattern, we extended our downwind to allow a Baron Beechcraft to takeoff ahead of us. On final into Farmville, the crosswind came from our right. I was just hoping for a better landing than the last flight lesson! It turned out ok but not great, we landed slightly sideways, which is never good. Farmville airport is in a nice, rural spot. It has a golf course on one side and a large forest, with a view to the mountains, on the other. Unlike Hanover, it was nice and quiet. No traffic to deal with, basically just us out there.
After taxiing back around, I asked my instructor if I could have another go at a landing, to see if I could do any better. We flew around the pattern again, and this time... the landing was perfect! I was so happy that I was finally getting a better hang of crosswind landings. After our touch and go, we flew on a course of 050, towards the James River. We followed the River all the way back up to Richmond. We flew down Patterson Ave. and back into the Hanover area. By this time, the air was completely smooth, and was fun to fly in. It's the best feeling getting out of turbulence and into smooth air, much less stressful.
Overall, I loved my first real cross country flight. Farmville has a nice airport, in a cool location. This was my longest continuous flight to date, nearly 1.8 hours! I can't wait to see where we will fly next!
Have a great week and thanks for reading,