Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My First Solo Flight in a Cessna 172 (N9525V)

The real fun in being a Private Pilot is having the opportunity to experience and learn on a variety of aircraft. After having done my PPL training in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), I knew I would want to bump up a level, to something a little larger. My goal was to fly something faster that could carry more people. As a part of accomplishing that goal, I went up with my instructor on a Cessna 172 Checkout Flight. After that flight, I was eligible to rent and fly the school Cessna 172s solo. 

The obvious next step for me was to do a "first solo" in the more or less familiar aircraft. From personal experience and advice I received, oftentimes the best way to get comfortable in a new aircraft is just to head out for a flight around the pattern, knocking out 10+ touch and go landings in the new plane. That's exactly what I did during this flight. It was a nice clear day, gusty, with an 8kt direct crosswind, but nothing too bad! It was a good opportunity for me to practice my crosswind skills in a moderate wind. 

For the day, I was going to fly in C172 N9525V, a 1998 Cessna 172R with zero glass cockpit. It was actually pretty fun to fly again in a plane with no GPS or glass, it can make things a little more simple, and fun! As you'll see in the video below, I did have my iPhone with Foreflight mounted next to me, so I cheated a little! I had the plane scheduled for 2 hours, but only planned to utilize about an hour of that for actual flying. All said and done, I flew .8 hours, knocking out 10 landings and takeoffs. 

In the video below, you can see an overview of the flight with timelapse editing and music. I only included the last 3 landings in this video, as showing all 10 would be way too long! You can find more videos like this on my Youtube channel, MartinsAviation1

Before taxiing and takeoff, I made sure to turn CloudAhoy on, with my iPhone. The app records your flight in 3D, with speed, altitude, ground track, etc. As this was my first solo flight in the C172, I spent most of my time in the pattern adjusting over and over, trying to find the right points at which to turn, in order to come in on final using little or no engine power. As you can see in the CloudAhoy screenshot below, patterns ranged from tight, to far out. I wanted to get a real sense for how the plane flew inside the pattern, how much it floats, etc. You can check out my flight in 3D for yourself, to do that Click Here.

After my 7th consecutive touch and go, I did a full stop landing to give my arms a rest. Unlike the electronic Tecnam P92 Eaglet, the Skyhawk has a mechanical trim. My arm was tired after fighting the heavier plane! In general, when flying the Cessna, you use the trim to alleviate the control pressure. Since I was flying constant, short patterns, it was hard to constantly adjust the trim properly for all phases of flight. It was also the first hot day of the new year, 80 degrees, so I drank some of the water I brought with me during the break.

Now that I'm feeling much more comfortable in the C172, I'm excited to go flying in it with passengers for the first time! As I speak, I'm headed to North Carolina to visit some more colleges over this Spring Break. 

Thanks for reading and watching!

-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

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Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin