Flight 22: The $100 Hamburger

We were supposed to do our first cross-country flight today, but we got conflicting weather briefings and cancelled. While I plotted a course, my CFI got a briefing that indicated decent weather for the next five hours or so, then an incoming line of storms. Our round-trip time would have been less than two hours, so we were going to go.

A few minutes later he had me get a briefing for the experience, and I was given a completely different forecast (storms coming in about two hours, with winds exceeding 30 knots, wind shear, VFR not recommended, etc.). It was odd to get such different interpretations a few minutes apart from giving the same data to two briefers.

As the day passed the first briefer turned out to be closer to the mark, but since the winds aloft were 20 knots at our intended departure time, it was just as well that we delayed the cross country.

We hadn’t had lunch yet, and there aren’t any restaurants near the airport, so we were hit by the $100 Hamburger Syndrome and flew over to Lakeland (LAL) to eat. (It was quicker to fly to the next county for a meal than drive around the outskirts of Tampa.)

I hadn’t been to a controlled airport since learning how to land, so this was another case of opportunity arising out of disappointment. Last time we went to Lakeland, I didn’t get on the radio, so this was my first time talking to a controller from the air.

I’ve gotten the hang of announcing my intentions and position at uncontrolled airports, but this is going to take some time to get. I identified myself several miles out, due west of the field, and got no response.

As we got close to the airport, we turned to south while awaiting instructions. I would have been content with a runway number and a word like clearance, but instead I got a speech that would have made an auctioneer proud. To me it sounded like


Manufacturer’ssuggestedretailprice.Actualpricesetbydealer.Taxestitleanddealerprep notincluded.Yourmileagemayvary.Offervoidwhereprohibitedbylaw.Under18,getyour parent’spermissionbeforecalling.Nopurchaserequired.Accountsandpicturesofthisgame maynotbetransmittedwithouttheexpresswrittenconsentofMajorLeagueBaseball.

but my CFI was able to detect a clearance to land on runway 23. We turned to enter the pattern and were surprised to see two other planes headed in our general direction- one a few hundred feet lower to the right and another to our left which seemed to be headed for a runway crossing ours. There was no real danger of a collision, but so much for ATC keeping us separated! After dodging that traffic, I heard

Cessna NNNNN, I see you now. If you had said you were southwest of the field, instead of west, I would have warned you about those other planes.

Well, excuse me, but we were due west when I reported our position, and if I had continued on that heading much longer, someone would probably be grilling me about why we cut through the pattern at a controlled airport without permission. I haven’t found a way to make the plane hover in one spot for several minutes waiting for a clearance. Maybe I could have reported again as southwest after turning, but the frequency was too busy. If you thought ATC would be watching us on radar and know our position, guess again, because that airport doesn’t have radar.

Today: 0.9 hours
Total: 24.6 hours
Total Solo: 3.3 hours

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