Because he is a lot faster than you

Finally, first solo flight! It was slated originally for Sunday (all my cross country stuff is currently slated for Sundays); however, the weather was forecast to be too windy for my endorsement. A plane was available to do it Saturday; I went ahead and took advantage of it. Even still, wind was borderline - by the time I had the plane preflighted, and started listening to the weather, the wind was gusting more than allowed. An hour wait later, and I was off.

My first solo “cross country” was fairly short distance wise, and to an airport I’ve been to before - Modesto. (Nice folks there!). Drawing on my previous trip there, I rerouted things such that all the distinguishable landmarks would be on my left, where I have much better visibility. Checkpoints would include my usual Franklin Field (it just happens to be on both sides of the map; and the map stops a mere 12 miles south of my home airport before needing to be flipped over); Flagg City and Lodi (in particular, interstate 5 and highway 12 area); then outskirts of Stockton and the i-5/205 (to SF) junction; final leg would be aiming directly at the Modesto airport. Everything went to plan, and my arrival time was off by a minute.

Returning was much more direct; Modesto to the right edge of Stockton; a few degrees to the right to go just barely over Lodi (to avoid any skydivers at Lodi Skypark); and direct to Franklin and Sacramento. I must have rushed through the plan on this one as my angles were dead on even with wind correction but my times were way off. I also had difficulty opening my flight plan on the ground over the radio - Rancho Radio doesn’t pick up pilots on the ground at that location. The tower staff were kind enough to phone it in for me. My instructor told me later that for Modesto you have to open your flight plan once you’re in the air.

A minor bit of amusement was just before I reached Franklin on the way back home .. Norcal Approach advised me to descend immediately from 4,500 to 4,000.. “because the plane behind you is a lot faster.” That’s the sort of instruction you act on immediately, then read back the instructions they gave you for confirmation. Since I was close to my descent point anyways, I requested permission to descend all the way down to 1000 feet, which would get me out of the way of any other heavy aircraft who were heading to Sacramento International.

Still on the todo list: one long cross country solo (probably to Chico and Redding); and one night long cross country with my instructor. Apparently I don’t do night time solo until after I have my license.

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