Cross Country Flights and The Wind

Today was to be my first dual cross country flight.  We’ve been trying to get this done for about a month and the weather just hasn’t cooperated.  I know no matter what time of year you end up planning cross country flights, there are weather issues to contend with no matter where you live.  This just happens to be winter and it’s been a really cold, wet and windy one for us here in North Carolina.

Coastal Carolina Sectional
Coastal Carolina Sectional

I have two flight plans laid out on paper and marked on my sectional chart.  One is to Myrtle Beach (CRE) and the other to Wilkes County(UKF).  I don’t have a preference to which route we take, I’m just eager to get this accomplished.  It’s an important milestone along the way to becoming a pilot.  One in which you show that you can prepare a flight plan, calculate winds, headings, fuel, weight and balance and naviagate to a point and back.  I’ve longed to do this for months and can’t wait to go. 

Flight planning equipment
Flight planning equipment

It’s a beautiful day, 58 for a high, a few stray clouds way up high and winds are reported at 10kts at the airport.  I thought this was going to be the perfect day for a cross country until I arrived and my instructor showed me the winds aloft report for the area.  It’s gusting upward of 30kts at the higher elevations.  My instructor asks if I brought a helmet because it’s rough up there today. After reviewing the winds in both directions, nothing looks good for getting the cross country done today. 

Front view

Am I disappointed? No, not really.  I believe that all things happen when they are meant to happen and that no matter what, you’re not going to change it and you can’t rush it. 

I also believe that at my age, I’ve learned to manage my expectations so that when things don’t work out the way I wanted, I’m not as disappointed as I would’ve been if I had bet on this being completed today.  The only reason we’re ever disappointed is because we set an expectation in our heads and then people or situations don’t meet them.  When I was younger it was easy to be crushed by disappointment, but with age comes wisdom and experience.  Experience has taught me that you should always manage your expectations in life. Whether it’s work, kids, love, or recreation, you need to roll with whatever comes your way.  I have come to believe that delays are a way of protecting you from unforeseen circumstances, or a way of teaching you patience.  I’ve never been fond of learning patience, and it’s been a lesson I seem to keep having to repeat, so apparently I’m not learning it well enough to move on to the next lesson.

We decide to spend some time creating an alternate flight plan to a destination about 80nm to the East as a backup and practice for preparing a flight plan.  It’s a good way to review and get me back up to speed on using the electronic E6B, calculating headings and fuel consumption.   I love doing navigation.  I know that may be a little strange to some, but the idea of planning a flight and marking spots along the way to seek out is like going on a treasure hunt.  You need accurate calculations and good landmarks to make sure you are staying on course.  Something about doing all this makes it seem like such an adventure, and I love an adventure.

We go over VOR and tracking the radials for them, something I haven’t done yet but I’m eager to have the opportunity to use for a change as well.  Seeing it in action and using it will help it make a lot more sense I believe.

C172 Cockpit view
C172 Cockpit view

After finishing a flight plan, doing calculations and checking the forecast for the remainder of the week, we decide to try again this coming Friday.  I can’t say for certain it will happen then, but I do know that if it works out, it will be exactly when it was meant to be and it couldn’t have been any other way. (Yes, in my head that’s my Morpheus voice going off from The Matrix.)

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