Holy cow it’s already April, and I don’t know how you guys feel but this semester is zooming by very quickly. This past week here at the University of Oklahoma the weather has been a huge pain in the neck with all the rain, and storm systems that keep sweeping the area. In fact, Tuesday night we picked up four inches of rain in the Norman area alone, so I’m sure you all can imagine trying to fly this past week has been nearly impossible. While the weather has been uncooperative for flying, I was able to go on my longest cross country flight from Norman to Amarillo Texas, and I wanted to share with you all my experience from being on a five-hour solo cross country.
Monday morning, I woke up to low hanging clouds which concerned me because I knew if they didn’t clear up by noon, I would not be going. Luckily the clouds did begin to taper off for perfectly clear weather all the way to Amarillo. After filing my flight plan and getting the aircraft signed out, I started up the aircraft and took off out of Norman shortly after the 2:30 pm (14:30) heading to Amarillo. The great thing about this flight is that there is a major highway (I-44) that runs directly from Oklahoma City to Amarillo, so if my GPS, or foreflight failed on me I could use that as a VFR waypoint to get to Amarillo.
Another unique feature that I realized on my way to Amarillo was the drastic change in elevation as I got closer to Amarillo. In my flight plan I filed to fly at 6,500, and in Norman the airport elevation is 1,182msl so I was really flying around 5,000 ft above the ground. Yet, as I started getting further out west I went, the higher the elevation got and the closer I was getting to the ground. In fact, when I was beginning to arrive into Amarillo the airport elevation there is around 3,450 msl; so, I was only about 3,000 ft above the ground when I began descending into Amarillo.
(Photo Credits to Amarillo International website)
I landed in Amarillo a little after 5:00 pm (17:00) and only had time to make a fuel stop at the local FBO before I had to be on my way back to Norman. I’m sure as you all can imagine Amarillo is not a big airport with a lot of planes that come and go, but it was really cool to be so close to the few that were there and to imagine that maybe one day I’ll be the pilot of one of those aircrafts stopping in Amarillo, Texas. Once I filed for my flight back to Norman, and the Aircraft was all fueled up, I started up the aircraft and was on my way back to Norman. As I was rolling out to the runway, I was following behind a Southwest Airline Boeing 737, and had an Envoy CRJ 700 following behind me, so I was sandwiched between two airline aircrafts.
Once the Southwest Airline took off it was my turn to takeoff and I was notified by ATC to try and make a clearing turn once I was up in the air so that I could get out of the way of the CRJ 700, which was extremely exciting to see how fast it got up into the air and was right behind me during the departure out of Amarillo. As for the next two and a half hours of flight it was just me and the aircraft heading back to Norman trying to race against the sun before it fully set, so it was sort of different going from day cross country flying into night cross country. Finally, at around 8:00 pm (20:00) I made my final descent into Norman completing the five-hour cross country, the longest flight and cross country that I’ve ever flown.
Overall, I did enjoy the flight, but if there’s one thing I do hate about doing these long cross countries is that it can get very boring and lonely. Like I said I had to do this as a solo cross country, and since I had no one else to talk to but myself, you easily get bored with just talking to yourself (especially when it’s 5hrs of just yourself), and it was sort of boring just watching windmill farm after windmill farm pass by, but again I enjoyed some of the unique features of western Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas.
Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out https://blog.globalair.com/ for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as other reviews on aviation related articles. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”