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2 Solos Around KELN

Posted by bluewhale 
2 Solos Around KELN
March 25, 2011 06:48AM
I am going to incorporate 2 flights into one report. The first flight was my solo flight around the traffic pattern that was to be logged for an hour. On the second flight, I was flying a practice area solo flight, where technically, I am supposed to be practicing doing stalls, flight during minimum airspeed, and ground-reference maneuvers. Since these flights are for practice and are mainly a lot of the same things done over and over again, unlike commercial flying from airport to airport, this report will be more pictures than literature.

The first flight I took on February 1st at 11:00. I would be flying in a Cessna 152 reg. N5499Q. Contrary to what my CFI thinks (because I fly the plane, she doesn’t) all 6 of the FBO’s C-152s handle slightly different from each other. N5499Q is known as the worst plane amongst us Cessna students because this plane is very uncoordinated and requires a lot of rudder control, whereas others require rudder control only during severe maneuvers. However, this plane, being one that was manufactured in 1981, has a brand new engine and is one of the fastest in the fleet. That kind of worked against me because my speed would always go over 100 knots while on my downwind leg (I also had a slight tailwind aloft, which didn’t register on the ground’s automated weather observation system), when I should have been at around 80 or 90 maximum so that I could slow the plane down enough to land well.

My plane for today during preflight

During preflight, I have to follow a set checklist to check each individual component of the plane. I have preflighted a Cessna so many times that I already know what to do without the checklist. The first think is to insure that the operating documents, which are the airworthiness certificate, the federal and state registration certificates, the operating handbook, and the weight and balance, are in the plane. Without those, it is illegal to fly the plane. Next, I turn on the Alternator and Battery switch to check all the exterior lights and check to see if the flaps retract properly. To put a spotlight on things, one aircraft that I was about to fly that I was preflighting had a flap problem, in which the flaps would retract all the way to 30 degrees, even if I only set the switch to 10 degrees. Luckily this was not the case today. After that I check the antennas to see that they won’t fly off, and the rear fuselage for dents and whatnot. I then walk to the rear where I make sure that the horizontal stabilizer works and that it is not frozen over, and also check to see that the rudder works. Next is the right wing, in which I check the light, the flaps to make sure that there is nothing caught in the tracks, and also the aileron. I also check fuel quantity, and the fuel cap is on the top of the wing, so the FBO requires us to get up on a ladder. I also make sure that the brakes and tires are good, as well as the front gear, shimmy dampner, and oleo strut. Lastly, I check the propeller for damage and check everything in the left wing.

By now, my CFI had already walked out since she wanted to do 4 landings with me to make sure that I was good to go. We got into the plane, and did the 4 touch and goes. However, it seemed a bit windy up while landing, so she told me to just practice normal landings, instead of short field or soft field landings.

So the fourth time around, I pulled the plane off the runway and she got out. This was a supervised solo, so she had to stand on the side of the runway with a two way radio to communicate with me. But just for funsies, she also decided to film the first three landings that I did. So after she got out, I taxied back around the airport, back to the entry for runway 29.


Instrument panel – normally I’m not supposed to be taking pictures like this with my phone, but there’s nobody in the plane with me to stop me!

After takeoff from runway 29, I did a few touch and goes to get warmed up, and then I took a few more pictures.

Banking left crosswind out of runway 29 with a view of runway 7

Final seconds of the downwind leg – I had already reduced the engine RPM and retracted 10 degrees of flaps. This is the street that my dorm is on.

A picture of my dorm – it’s the tallish building in the top half of this picture with the circle around it

View of the 11 end of runway 29/11

Whole view of the airport – during the spring summer and fall months, runway 7 is the primary use runway, despite the fact that runway 29 is in better condition, has lighting, and was recently redone.

On one of the later touch and goes, things began to get interesting. A pilot who wasn’t based in Ellensburg was flying a GPS approach for runway 11, even though 11 does not have GPS, only 29 does. Normally, most operations that happen at Ellensburg airport are operations from us students doing flight lessons, the CFIs from the FBO doing standardization if they aren’t with a student, and even sometimes, one of our flight professors or someone else who lives in Ellensburg doing touch and goes who are still well-known in the CWU flight community. I was still in the pattern, doing landings on runway 29. However, once the GPS pilot was about 5 miles away, he yelled onto the radio “Land runway 11!” despite the fact that I was in the pattern first and I was landing on runway 29. Normally, whoever was in the pattern first decides the way the pattern goes, unless the wind drastically changes. Then, my CFI came on the radio and told me that I should try the landing on runway 11 instead, to help cater to the GPS pilot, and that the wind had in fact changed course a little bit. So, I changed my downwind leg into an upwind leg and I circled around the airport to change course. After that, I did about 3 more touch and goes and then I landed and parked the plane. Once I got back inside the airport, everyone in there told me how they were confused about what the GPS pilot was doing, because he wasn’t following the rules and runway 11 does not have a GPS receiver. Oh well, I’m still alive, and it was a fun ride.

My next solo flight was a fun one. In this flight, I actually got to leave the traffic pattern and go out and fly over a part of Ellensburg for about an hour or so. This flight felt a lot cooler than the previous one, since I could also practice maneuvers and look at stuff and do what I want. However, instead of flying N5499Q, I was now flying N95995, which is a real tongue-twister to say over the radio. I swear that the FBO purposely requested a registration number with a lot of 9s in it to get private students used to saying “niner.”

Seeing and standing next to this King Air was an early treat before I got started! This plane is not based here in Ellensburg, and the ramper was about to tow this plane to the fuel pumps as this plane was scheduled to leave later this morning.

This was a tall plane compared to all the little Cessnas parked all over the place

This has the Great Seal of the Navajo Nation

After I preflighted, my CFI came to check the plane one more time, because she has to sign me off in order to get the keys. Everything looked fine, so she signed the paper, went into the office, and got me the key and I was on my way! This was the first time I have begun a flight without anyone sitting next to me!

Taxiing to runway 29 – you can see the Beech King Air at the fuel pumps by the BP sign.

Here’s the FBO, a bunch of Cessnas, and a Piper to the left – the guy in the black next the closest Cessna is one of my buddies and he waved at me as I taxied out all by myself…

Other planes based out of Ellensburg that don’t belong to the FBO

Runway 29



I climbed straight out and then after reaching 3,100 feet, I banked right to fly to the practice area to the east of the airport. This was my favorite practice area because it is the largest and seems to have the calmest winds.

Now flying east about a mile north of the airport—Ellensburg is the area just south of the airport.

Flying east

Road and the landing gear that doesn’t retract

Instrument panel at cruise

So I was now at cruise in the practice area, so I just started flying around and looking at stuff, and doing a few maneuvers.

I put down the flaps to slow the plane down enough to practice a power-off stall.

You’ll be able to hear the stall warning horn

The I-90 freeway which is the main freeway in Ellensburg that will take you to Seattle

I was flying around and I thought this looked a little like the Simpsons

These are stratiform clouds which indicate stable air

More clouds over Ellensburg

After that, I saw a rainbow off the right so I decided to follow it for a while.

Chasing rainbows in a Cessna! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that not many people ever get!

However, it began to rain. I was wondering why the rain on the windshield wasn’t going away, because it normally gets whisked away by the propeller.

Someone’s house

The rain kept coming and sticking to the windshield, and then I figured out that this was freezing rain and that I was getting structural icing!

Icing on the plane – we actually had not yet talked about structural icing in class so I didn’t know what to do!

Couldn’t see much, but there was still a gap on the windshield.

Rainbow – At this point, I also decided to descend about 1,000 feet in hopes that the temperature would increase a little.

I didn’t want to land and end my flight early, so I decided to keep trying to get rid of the ice on my windshield. This time, I throttled up to get the propeller spinning faster to try to whisk away the ice.

This window has no ice so it must not be that bad

Houses – I was also trying to fly in places that did not have any precipitation.

One of the many farms in Ellensburg

These clouds are responsible for the freezing rain!

The rear of the plane on my way back to ELN

High winged plane

Entering the pattern on a 45 degree leg to the upwind for runway 29 – luckily most of the ice melted away

More farms

More clouds

Banking right to follow runway 29 upwind


I believe that this is a tail-wheeled airplane that is based out of Ellensburg flown by one of the regulars here.

Downwind for runway 29 over the airport

The big plane next to the Piper to the right of ‘Bowers Field’ is a Cessna Citation and the plane towards the top going to the runway is the Beech King Air.

I’m not supposed to be taking pictures, especially on short final, but I had to make an exception!

Landing on runway 29

Coasting down the runway

Flaps down to 30 degrees

And then after I turned off the runway, I had to get a video of the King Air taking off!

Taxiing back to the fuel pumps

A look down runway 25

Looking down runway 7 – this runway is closed for the winter but has since opened back up on March 1st.

The plane that I flew on my practice area solo, N95995 parked at the fuel pumps!

Hope I got out all the typos and sorry that there isn't much to talk about. These flights are pretty routine and pictures do the talking better than also story telling.

Re: 2 Solos Around KELN
March 25, 2011 08:04PM

Instrument panel – normally I’m not supposed to be taking pictures like this with my phone, but there’s nobody in the plane with me to stop me!
The TSA, flight instructors, nobody can stop us

I swear that the FBO purposely requested a registration number with a lot of 9s in it to get private students used to saying “niner.”
At least when you have that everything else is easier in the future.. Unless you register your plane N99999 or something.

This may sound like a stupid question, but is taking a picture like that as difficult as taking a picture while driving?

These flights are pretty routine and pictures do the talking better than also story telling.
This definitely sounds like a nicer alternative to a weekly clarinet lesson. Too bad my abilities with vectors and other math fall way short.

Proud Member Since 2003
Re: 2 Solos Around KELN
March 26, 2011 02:12AM

This may sound like a stupid question, but is taking a picture like that as difficult as taking a picture while driving?
Hmm. While rotating I think it's easier for taking pictures than driving, because you can't really drift or swerve into any other lane and hit anything, and you can also keep the plane more or less on course with the rudders and just keeping the yoke pulled back. During cruise, it's definitely a lot easier. But while on final and base while landing, I think it's harder than while driving because you have to make sure your going fast enough, that you aren't descending too fast, and that you turn when you're supposed to so that you stay on glide path, while still trying to take a picture. There's a lot involved while landing and its definitely not a good time for pictures then! grinning smiley

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