Lesson 45
6 April
2 hours

Chesterfield County Airport (FCI) to Newport News (PHF).

This was an interesting trip--but tiring because Adam loaded on a lot of new things.  In addition to the pilotage--naviating by looking at the chart and the ground--he had me try "flight following," in which you ask ATC to monitor your progress by radar, as they would if you  were flying IFR.  Also, the Newport News airport is s somewhat bigger-time operation than I'd flown into before--has two runways and lots of radio frequencies to worry about in addition to the tower.

Navigating to the airport wasn't too difficult, as we were following the river almost all the way.  I was surprised several times, however, by how different the terrain looked from half a mile up than it does on the chart.  One place in particular, a sharp point of land on the south bank near Newport News is marked "Buildings" on the chart.  I was expecting to see tall office buildings--mistakenly thinking it was nearer to Norfolk--but they turned out to be a few farm buildings, instead.

On the way back we had a 16 knot headwind, so that leg of the trip took longer--and that made us much more susceptible to up- and down-drafts.  The river meanders under our course, so we were alternately over land and water.  Over the water we'd go down about 500 feet and over the land we'd go back up again.  Because we were using flight following and were under ATC control, we had to try especially hard to hold a constant altitude--2500 feet that time--so I spent most of the trip working the throttle to fight the drafts.

I'm behind on these notes, so I'm going to skip to the next lesson and maybe come back to add a few things to this one later.

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