Thursday, 17 April 2014

Not exactly to plan (part 3)

Except it really was.  I picked up my heading and followed the landmarks marked on my chart. I knew what I needed to do.

Exercising my newly discovered map reading skills I made a call to Oshawa tower. Technically I’m not really going to be in their airspace, it’s only controlled up to 3000ft and I’m at 4500ft, but I want to descend and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to let them know I’m here.

I plan my radio call carefully in my head, not wanting to sound like the rank amateur I actually am. I worry about getting the distance and direction from the airport right. I do my best to pinpoint my location and double check my heading indicator for the direction.

I make the call with no major problems, I repeat back the squawk code and my instructions to report clearing to the SW. I’m pleased to hear that his radar-identified confirmation of my position is only one mile out from mine. I’ll live with that for sure.

Happily trundling through his zone, I suddenly spot Oshawa airport. For some reason this marks the end of my fears. I take a huge breath in and exhale a stream of profanity as the tension of the two previous legs washes out of me. I am actually going to do this.  I finally take a moment to enjoy the scenery. Lake Scugog is particularly splendid for many reasons.

Unbelievably to me, I can see Pickering and Frenchmans Bay in the distance. I can fly this route with my eyes closed. Resisting the urge to do exactly that, I switch mindsets. I’m no longer a scared student on an epic journey. I’m just coming back from back from a Local East jaunt, like I have a million times before.

Focussing on the closing portion of the flight, mindful of the fact that screwing up now would be really stupid. I make my call to City, remembering to include all the info they need; my squawk code from Oshawa, my last point of departure and my intention to land on 08.

Mercifully, I either get lucky or the controller remembers me as a student because they clear me into the right downwind without  question.

The circuit is uneventful, I comply with the request to widen out for traffic and eventually land, first time, on 08.  I float a little but am easily off by Foxtrot.

I taxi in to Bob’s welcome marshalling and we are done.

JES and I both intact. One of us overwhelmingly happy.

Friendly faces great me and I can’t help but feel that this trip has now put me as one of them. I’ve crossed a barrier, I’m not a student  restricted to local trips.

Today I was a pilot.

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