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Paul Poberezny's Granddaughter Recounts First Cross-Country Solo Flight

 

Audra Hoy
Pilot Audra Hoy got closer to her checkride after her recent cross-country solo flight.

Note: Audra Hoy is granddaughter of EAA Founder Paul Poberezny

You would think the idea of a solo cross country wouldn't be too overwhelming once you've logged a handful of solo hours outside the pattern, but it was. I was about to fly more than 50 nautical miles to an airport I don't know, over terrain I don't know, deal with new towers, not get lost, and get there and back without bending metal? Yikes!

After detailed planning of my course, filing my VFR flight plan, and numerous pep talks to myself, off I went to Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA). I departed OSH and headed northwest following my planned course. With the timer going I started looking for my first checkpoint, found it, and got there right when I planned to. Perfect! One checkpoint down, four to go.

By this time everything was trimmed up and my main focus was a) fly the plane, b) maintain my altitude, c) don't get lost, d) talk to all the right people, e) keep an eye on the aircraft, and f) try to relax and have fun.

It was a beautiful, clear day and it was incredibly bumpy. Wasn't expecting that but the airplane was running great and it wasn't anything I couldn't handle, so onward we go.

After the Winneconne checkpoint, I contacted Milwaukee approach to request VFR flight following. ATC told me I was just leaving its airspace and to contact Minneapolis Center. As I was looking for my second checkpoint, I contacted MSP Center. They asked me to stand by. Meanwhile, I located my second checkpoint - still on schedule.

As I was approaching my third checkpoint I still hadn't heard from MSP Center. After contacting them again and initiating VFR flight following, I found my third checkpoint and was still on schedule, chugging along and reminding myself to relax.

On to my fourth checkpoint - by far the hardest one to locate. After much searching, I found it. Although I was not actively using the GPS to navigate, I was very glad to have it to double-check myself.

I found my final checkpoint 10 miles later - all right, we were in the home stretch now.

Fifteen miles out I listened to the CWA ATIS for the current ATIS code, weather, and active runway information. The flying gods were shining down on me: The airport was dead ahead and the sun was shining off the hangars. I had the airport in sight, contacted MSP Center, and terminated flight following.

I called CWA 12 miles out and told them I was inbound landing. They told me to call 3 miles out for Runway 35. I called 3 miles out and was told the winds had changed and he wanted me to enter the right downwind for Runway 8. Not a big change, but big enough to make you internally go, "Wait, what?"

The landing at CWA could have been prettier, but it was safe - and like my dad told me, every landing is perfect when you are alone. So, my landing was perfect - a total greaser (wink).

I requested a taxi back to return to OSH but mentioned that I would need some time to reorganize. I switched to my next flight plan, terminated my VFR flight plan, gathered my thoughts, called my husband to let him know I got there safely, and did a little internal cheer. Come on, who wouldn't?

Heading home it was much easier to relax. Still bumpy and still the same balls to juggle, but my confidence factor was much higher.

As much as there is to keep you busy, man, it's lonely up there all by yourself. I know I'll grow to appreciate flying by myself as I become more proficient, but right now, I really enjoy having the company.

I still have my long cross-country to do, but it is not as intimidating as it once was. The big question is, where do I want to go?

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