Lesson 13: Area Familiarization

Aircraft: C172 N52654

Flight  Time:  1.1 hours 

Total Hours: 14.3

The goal for this lesson was for me to become familiar with the areas around Anchorage and to get a feel for basic VFR flight out in a real world setting. It was first time we went away from the airport traffic pattern and the practice area. Essentially, it was my first ‘real’ flight as pilot out into the world.

We took off and did an east departure away from Merrill Field, and then turned north and followed the Glenn Highway alongside the Chugach foothills, past Eagle River, Birchwood and up towards the end of the Knik Arm. From there, we headed towards a large bump in the landscape called ‘the butte,’ which I used to practice my turns around a point. Off in the distance to the right we could see the Knik Glacier, and north of that, we were looking down the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

From there, we turned and circled over the town of Palmer, then headed west over Wasilla and Big Lake before turning south back to Anchorage. (Yes, we flew over Sarah Palin’s house.) Along the way, I practiced some basic navigation skills using the Nav radio, VOR receiver and DME. The weather was beautiful- cold and perfectly clear and we had great views of all the mountains, including Mt. Redoubt, over 100 miles away. Fortunately, we didn’t see any smoke rising from the summit. At one point, we saw a number of moose loitering out on a frozen lake bed, soaking up the sun.

When we passed Twin Island Lake, I called up the tower and announced myself inbound. I recognized the voice on the radio as the same guy who ATC-ed me through my solo. I’ll probably never forget his voice. My landing was pretty good. There was a slight crosswind, and I didn’t do a perfect job with the rudder and wing adjustment, but we came down well and rolled to a smooth stop on the taxiway before returning to the hangar.

Another hour and one more step along in the learning process. Next time I’m scheduled to do my first solo away from the airport.

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