For the first time in four years I flew a fixed wing aircraft solo today. I took my biennial flight review and got checked out in Oakdale Aero Club’s Cessna 152. This morning I took it out solo. It was a beautiful morning. There were still some clouds around from yesterday’s storms. It made for a beautiful sunrise, golden skies not red. A good sign.
I got the airplane ready to go, performed my run-up, radioed my intentions, and back-taxied to runway 28 at Oakdale. They are doing construction on the airport and all the taxiways are closed so we have to taxi down the middle of the runway to takeoff. This is called back-taxiing. I lined up on the runway, radioed once more and took off. I departed left downwind and flew towards the Sierra foothills.
I flew eastward until I reached the hills on the west side of Salt Spring Valley and then turned north. I knew that the morning Ham radio net was going so I pulled out my HT (handheld transceiver) and tuned into the SARA repeater. As today is Memorial Day it was a smaller group of folks on the net and wouldn’t be going as long as the regular weekday net. So when I heard a pause I keyed my radio and said “BREAK”. Net control told me to go ahead and I checked in, “This is N6SVA, aeronautical”. That’s a fun thing for Ham folks. They love talking to Ham operators that are in out of the ordinary situations. A Ham operator flying an airplane qualifies. So checking in to the morning net was a fun thing for me too. I checked in a couple of times telling them what the weather looked liked, where I was, my altitude, stuff like that. They loved it and I thought it was fun too.
After the net ended I turned my HT off and just enjoyed flying around a bit. I thought it would be fun to fly over to New Jerusalem where I had flown my powered parachute and powered paraglider so much. It felt odd approaching the field from 2500 feet MSL as I hadn’t flown over 500 feet above the ground in four years! I had a little difficulty finding the field because it had been so long since I had seen the field from that height. I finally found the field and entered the pattern on a left crosswind. I flew the pattern and made a landing that… well… let’s just say I’m a little rusty. No metal was bent, no wheels popped, and the airplane will live to fly another day but it wasn’t one of my trademark smooth landings.
I taxied back and took off and headed back to Oakdale. Happily my landing at Oakdale was MUCH better. I taxied over to the fuel pump and topped the tanks off for the next guy. All in all it was a wonderful morning but I can see that I need to get out on a few more wonderful mornings and knock this rust off.