My first flight in my RV7 was last May. In September of last year I caught myself flying around Charlie airspace in Abilene, Tx so I would not have to talk to ATC! I told my wife "this is ridiculous for us to skirt around these airports because I do not feel comfortable talking to ATC!" I have been a country pilot since 1989 mainly because my airplane back then had no transponder. I kept my plane on a pasture strip in West Texas and you can go just about anywhere in the US just going from one uncontrolled airport to another, and that's what I did. Plus, I sold that plane and didn't fly for about ten years so I forgot what little I knew.....But now I have this new magic carpet and I knew it was time to grow up and learn how to talk to these guy's. So, to make a long story short, one of my New Years resolutions was to learn radio communications! For 3 1/2 months, I spent every spare moment studying Sporty's communications videos, listening to http://www.liveatc.net/
, studying airspaces, watching utube videos, practicing radio calls, and flying into and landing at Midland, Tx KMAF (I bet those guys got tired of my studdering and stammering and probably sat around joking about the hick with the RV in Garden City came by again for a touch and go today!) I cant explain why this aspect of flying is so hard for me but it is! But, after 3 1/2 months of hard work, I felt like I was good enough to go on a trip with my wife to San Diego, California! At first I thought, "we can land on the outskirts, maybe Ramona or Brown Field, and not have to deal with all that Bravo and traffic", but I caught myself, slipping back into my old ways again! No, I decided we were going to fly right into Montgomery!
First real landmark of our 926 mile adventure was the Guadalupe Mountains between Midland and El Paso...... We departed at 9 am with some low broken clouds from our farm in Garden City but they turned into clear skies after the first 30 miles. Unfortunately, the story of the day was headwinds and turbulence. I knew it was coming but we had hotel reservations that Saturday evening in SD so we braved on. I called up KMAF after we started our climb (oh, that hick again coming for a touch and go) and asked for flight following to Lordsburg NM, our first restroom and fuel stop. The call went great and I even remembered the squawk code the first time! My confidence was elevated!
Mountains in New Mexico. Turbulence was rough but my wife was hanging in there. Higher was a little smoother but we paid for it with higher headwinds. A C-172 near El Paso near us and going to Phoenix was reporting to ATC GPS was showing 50 kts per hour ground speed! Bless their hearts! Our lowest groundspeed was 105 kts groundspeed flying at 10,500'. I was handling the hand offs from flight following like a pro!
Fueling up at Lordsburg, NM. A 3:20 leg and about halfway to SD. My bladder was stretched to new limits because of those darned headwinds! Fuel was 4.20 though so that was some consolation!
Really enjoying my Skyview! Also, I built a bracket for my Galaxy 7 smart phone in the middle of the panel. It is running free Avare app which is very handy with VFR sectionals and backup navigation and ground speed. What was really surprising, is it never lost GPS signal on the whole trip, even though it is directly under the aluminum glare shield!
Next Stop was Yuma Arizona. Class D with Tower. Cleared to land on Rnwy 35 with 30knts from 320 degress. Head winds had started shifting from the North so we are making better time now.
At Million Airs Aviation and fueled up with 3.85 100LL. Checking Stadium TFR's and such. Not far to go now!
The flight from Yuma was turbulent but the winds had turned full out of the North now so we made good time. So Cal Approach cleared me thru the Bravo long before we got there but I still descended and stayed out of it. Flight following turned me loose just before Lake Murray. I had planned and practiced this approach many times in my mind. I called up Montgomery Tower and that's when the pressure was on! They gave me a straight in for 28R but had one touching down, and a Cherokee in front of me, two planes on downwind, and I'm on 3 mile final! So this is the traffic I been hearing about! Tried to slow down for the Cherokee but the controller said I was getting to close so we had to do a 360 turn.
And there it is! After 900+ miles, it was a sight for sore eyes!
Had a little trouble with Ground Control but we finally tied down at Gibbs Aviation and celebrated our journey!