So my instructor Jesse has moved on to the next phase of his career. The computer at the flight school churned, clicked, and whirred, and spat out the name of my next instructor. The name, which has been cleverly changed to avoid having him discover this blog, was "Jim".
This was attempt #3 at completing my dual cross country trip. The planned trip was to Willmar, and learning the intricacies of planning a trip like this was a little painful. However, like anything, after you run through it a couple of times, it really isn't that hard at all.
I got to the flight school about 90 minutes before my scheduled session with Jim so I could finish up my navigation log. The nav log allows you to calculate the wind's effect on your heading and speed. Computers can easily do this but of course, we're required to learn how to do everything manually.
The other thing I was carefully watching was the weather in Willmar. The ceilings were a bit low but holding steady, so when Jim arrived we analyzed everything together. I was hesitant, and starting to think we should abort, but my instructor explained to me that the risk was low because the ceilings would be 1500 feet above us, they weren't getting lower, and many alternate airports were within close proximity of our course in case the clouds got too low.
Besides, he said, you should fly when the conditions aren't perfect, especially when you have the safety of a CFI on board.
Convinced that it was safe to do so, we launched, and it was very cool. We hit all my checkpoints perfectly - and 2 minutes ahead of schedule for each one. My meticulous and agonized planning had paid off. We landed uneventfully (except for just a little rain) and took off again. Since we turned to the south after departure, I got off my course quite a bit. We weren't using VOR so I had to pick out new waypoints on the fly, which I did and got us back to the airport without a problem.
This flight was extremely fun, and it was nice to get flying again. I'll have to say, though, you get very rusty on the details if you don't fly regularly. My radio work was pretty rough at first but luckily it came back quickly.
Now, I have 3 more curriculum flights left. 10 takeoffs and landings at night, a cross country trip at night, and a solo cross country. After that, it's all review for the checkride.