Back (course) to Melbourne

Hurricane Irene didn’t do much to us here is South Florida. I didn’t even move my plane from it’s tiedown spot on the ramp. I don’t think we saw winds higher than about 25 mph while the storm was nearby. It basically stayed 200 miles offshore and followed the coast.

Today my safety pilot was Winston again. Our plan for today was to fly up to Melbourne and do the localizer backcourse. Winds were out of the west, so that would work out good. We originally planned to just fly up there and back, but when I check my fuel, I realized we didn’t have enough to do that and let me go to Pahokee later to get gas. So on the way back we would swing by Okeechobee to top off.

Just as we were getting ready to leave North County, my hood broke. That was pretty annoying, since I just bought this thing back in March. Winston ran into the flight school to borrow one of theirs so we could still do the flight. He brought out one identical to mine, except the hinge (where mine broke) was different and a much more robust design. I don’t know if mine was the old design or the new one, but it was not as good as the other one was. I’ll have to research that more since I am going to have to purchase another one to complete my training.

Once I had a proper functioning hood, we took off and headed north towards Melbourne. The plan was to follow the airway V-3 all the way up there. Since we didn’t file an actual IFR flight plan, we decided to get flight following, since that would get us talking to ATC and requesting the approach would be easier. I had a little trouble following V-3, and when we got up to Ft. Pierce, we were too low to get over their Class D airspace (because the clouds were only at around 2500 feet and we were at 2000 feet), so we had to divert around their airspace. Between trying to stay on V-3 and avoiding those airports, my path looks a little bit wiggly on that section of the flight. Once we got around the airports, I tuned in the Melbourne VOR and just headed direct to it. My flight path got a lot straighter once I did that.

As we approached Melbourne, we got handed off to Orlando Approach, where we requested the backcourse approach to runway 27L. They weren’t too busy, so they could accommodate us. We go vectored out over the ocean and lined up for the approach. Since there were jets on their way in behind us, they asked us to keep our speed up. I flew the approach pretty well. Some of the digits on my KNS-80 are starting to fail, and I misread where I was and started to descend a little early. I will probably end up having to buy a replacement KNS-80 used off eBay or something, since they aren’t available new anymore. The good news is they aren’t very expensive since no one wants them. I would rather replace it with a IFR GPS, but those are way too expensive for me, mainly because peopel still want those.

After landing, we taxiied over to the ground VOR check. Everything checked out good, and we taxiied back to the runway to depart. We got behind a Cessna 172 that either had a problem with their radio, was disorganized, or was not sure what to do. Either way, we ended sitting at the end of the taxiway for five minutes waiting for them to call up the tower and tell them they were ready to go. Eventually, they called up and departed with us a few minutes behind them.

We headed over to Okeechobee, which was a short 45 minute flight. After landing, we topped off the fuel tanks and decided to get something to eat at the restaurant there on the field, since it was about lunchtime by then. After eating lunch we took off and headed for home. I flew the ILS approach back into North County and circled to land on runway 26L. Here was today’s flight:

I got another two hours of hood time today, putting my total hours at 31.4 so far. Another 8.6 hours to go. Finally in the home stretch. I should have what I need with safety pilots in about a month from now, give or take a week or two. Then it will be back with Joel to get two or three hours of flying in preparation for the checkride. I am thinking the checkride should happen sometime in the beginning of October.

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