Learning to Fly – Day Sixteen (Qualified?)

So after yesterday’s rather eventful cross-country today it would be on to the so-called Qualifying Cross Country flight.  I had to make a cross country of a certain length, visit at least one airport that I had never been at or even over and get signatures from airport managers along the way.  It was also the day that Jackie and the family departed the resort at St. Pete’s beach to move to the Villa we had booked much closer to the airport I was flying from.  I had rented a family van and agreed to drive out and pick them up. So I had moved the flight from a 12:00 start time to a 9:30 start time. The flight was to be Winter Haven to Seebring, from Seebring to Venice and from Venice back to Winter Haven.  The Seebring to Venice was similar to the Seebring to Arcadia leg I did yesterday which means a rather long (45 minutes) flight over country where there are almost no distinguishable features.  Venice is about 15 miles southwest of Arcadia but it has one thing going for it: It is on the beach. If everything fails, I can fly to the coast and fly along it to find the airfield.  I want to be on the way to pick the family up as soon as possible and I am all set to get this done ASAP.  Off to Seebring; it is a breeze. I go straight there, enter the pattern, land (Terrible landing) and taxi to somewhere NOT right in front of the FBO. I go to the airport director and get his stamp and signature certifying that 1) I had landed, 2) That my landing was OK (He did not see it but signed off none the less) and 3) That I had displayed good airmanship. Out to the plane and off again all within 12 minutes. Heading straight for Venice (At least as far as my calculations took me) after quite a while and about the time expected I could see the ocean. I started to look for the airfield and would you believe it: There it was, right in front of me.  Advised to use a runway where the base and final was over the ocean. That was really cool! One of my best landings, taxied to the FBO, got my signature and off again to Winter Haven. Venice is actually particularly cool.  If, on your approach, you call the Unicom and say something to the extent of: “Venice Unicom, Warrior 32990, 5 miles North of Venice, inbound for joining right downwind for runway 13, request taxi to Sharky” they will arrange an actual taxi to wait for you at the tie down apron. The taxi will take you to a well-known very good restaurant on the seaside. Excellent service and food, it is visited by people from all over Florida but is most conveniently reached by air. If early afternoon you can park your aircraft and leave the taxiway straight down to the beach for some drinks (Only the passengers off course) and some sun. Anyways, I was on my way back to Winter Haven, overflew Bartow at 3,000 feet to stay out of their controlled air space and landed without problems about 3 hours after take-off. I had my stamps and signatures and had now turned the last corner before my check-rides. All the final stuff had been booked: I am taking the written FAA exam on Thursday morning, the CAA/JAA check-ride on Friday and the FAA check-ride on Saturday morning.  I could, off course, convert my CAA license to an FAA license. So why do I take the two separately? Why do mountaineers climb a mountain? Well, actually, there are many reasons I do it: 1) it’s a challenge. It seems more fair game to take the two tests and get the two licenses separately rather than getting one “for free” from the other. 2) I want to ensure I am trained on both curriculums, which are slightly different. 3) The feedback you get form the examiner (whether you pass or fail) can be really good in pointing out different stuff from what your instructor points out. And then there is the mountain. It is there, it needs to be climbed. It is a challenge.

After 3 hours of flying, it was straight into the Tank (A Ford Expedition), 2 hours drive to Tampa to pick up the family and finally 2.5 hours back to the villa. The driving was harder work than the flying. That must be a good sign!

Summary after 16 days:
Flown:  2 hours 42 minutes
Total flying time: 43 hours and 15 minutes.
Solo: 10 hours 42 minutes.
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