Survived (Solo X-Country)

BCTAv8r

Well-Known Member
Man, the initial solo around the pattern is nothing. The solo x-country is where the real fun is.

Departed BCT at around 1330z and headed Northwest towards Okeechobee. Near Pahokee (West of PBI) I was at 6500ft looking out for traffic (swerving around clouds) when right in front of me just 500ft below heading Eastbound I see Expressjet flight 2930. That was more of a holy crap moment than cool. After that I decided to go down to where I wouldn't encounter any airlines, 2500ft. Followed the edge of the lake all the way North and found OBE with no problems. The way back was uneventful and although I was confident most of the time, I really am glad just to have made it back.

One of my concerns was the separation altitudes. I had to stay out of them most of the time as there was a significant amount of clouds and to steer away from them I felt like I was flying at unsafe altitudes (altitudes used by opposite traffic and IFR aircraft). What is the best thing to do when I have to maintain VFR and keep safe separation simultaneously?
 

av8or91

Well-Known Member
Congrats on your solo cross country:nana2:

You can typically get a heads up on other traffic if you get flight following. Atc will, if they have time, point out traffic that may be around your immediate flight path. You shouldnt have too much of a problem staying away from IFR traffic traveling the opposite direction since they should most of the time be at IFR altitudes which if they are traveling in the opposite direction be 1500 below or above you. Maybe that expressjet was just descending. I wouldnt worry about it too much, probably a little nerve racking the first time and once you see more planes you will get a feel for it. Just curious, how do you know he was 500 below you?
 

BCTAv8r

Well-Known Member
Just curious, how do you know he was 500 below you?

I don't know for sure but it's what it seemed. What worried me the most is that If I had been a little ahead, I would probably have hit it as I had clouds at my altitude and would have to descend right through where it was to clear the clouds.

Separation altitudes don't really work when you have people changing altitudes, huh?
 

surreal1221

Well-Known Member
Congrats!

The most fun I've had was doing cross countries in light twins / singles. It's nice being down low and able to enjoy the surroundings.
 

KLB

Well-Known Member
Never knew flight following was an option. Will be sure to use it next time.
It's one of the greatest tools in the bag tricks for a student pilot! You let them know that you're a student pilot on initial contact and they will keep a third eye on you.:)
 

taseal

Well-Known Member
Never knew flight following was an option. Will be sure to use it next time.
yup.

just tell ground (or tower) before you depart that you'd like to get flight following. they'll give u a squawk and a frequency to tune to after you depart. when you get switched over, just tell them tail number and what altitude u are at and what you are climbing to, they'll take care of the rest :)

you could always get it in the air too... in your case, just tune into PBI app @ 125.200.

to get it in the air, tell them where u are (just departed BCT, or 20 W of BCT) ur altitude and a cardinal heading along with type of plane and tail number.....

simple as that!

on my solo I got to 12,500 in a 152. (it took about 45 mins haha) but when I contacted miami center for flight following, tehy were amazed there was a 152 at 12,5 lol. i'll never forget that. she made me descend actually :( hahaha
 

av8or91

Well-Known Member
I have never been denied flight following or had them tell me they are unable. The best way to do it or the way I have figured is to tell the ground controller on initial contact where your going and what altitude(also a route if your not going direct) and also what type of plane your flying too. Ive been asked for a TAS once.

Here was my last flight that I got flight following. If you click track log next to the status you can see the alttude and groundspeed at 1 minute intervals.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/NDU92/history/20080625/0130Z/KGFK/KMKT
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
I don't know for sure but it's what it seemed. What worried me the most is that If I had been a little ahead, I would probably have hit it as I had clouds at my altitude and would have to descend right through where it was to clear the clouds.

Separation altitudes don't really work when you have people changing altitudes, huh?
That is why we have the 500 below, 1,000 above or 2,000 horizontal rule when dealing with clouds. It allows us, VFR traffic, to deal with traffic. I do not know how close you were to the clouds, but if you were close enough for him to just pop out, that is too close. We need to be able to see and react, leave yourself a nice safety cushion.

Congrats on the first cross country!
 

troopernflight

Well-Known Member
Glad to hear that you made it just fine. Yes, always use that flight following. It just gives you an extra comfort level. They will even let you know if you are drifting off course if you have a significant deviation. (I know from personal experience) Good luck on the rest of the training!
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
so you never learned about flight following during ground, and your instructor has never mentioned it to you?
 

BCTAv8r

Well-Known Member
Congrats!

The most fun I've had was doing cross countries in light twins / singles. It's nice being down low and able to enjoy the surroundings.
I actually enjoy going higher than 5,000ft. But by your standards that is probably low.:)

yup.

just tell ground (or tower) before you depart that you'd like to get flight following. they'll give u a squawk and a frequency to tune to after you depart. when you get switched over, just tell them tail number and what altitude u are at and what you are climbing to, they'll take care of the rest :)

you could always get it in the air too... in your case, just tune into PBI app @ 125.200.

to get it in the air, tell them where u are (just departed BCT, or 20 W of BCT) ur altitude and a cardinal heading along with type of plane and tail number.....

simple as that!

on my solo I got to 12,500 in a 152. (it took about 45 mins haha) but when I contacted miami center for flight following, tehy were amazed there was a 152 at 12,5 lol. i'll never forget that. she made me descend actually :( hahaha
Will do. So Miami center if heading South and Palm Beach approach if heading North?

That is why we have the 500 below, 1,000 above or 2,000 horizontal rule when dealing with clouds. It allows us, VFR traffic, to deal with traffic. I do not know how close you were to the clouds, but if you were close enough for him to just pop out, that is too close. We need to be able to see and react, leave yourself a nice safety cushion.

Congrats on the first cross country!
Thanks. There was quite a bit of clouds so sometimes I had to squeeze through some rather small holes (sts) and that much separation from the clouds might have been violated. But at no times did I go through clouds. Next time I'll choose an altitude more suitable so I don't have to be so evasive.

Glad to hear that you made it just fine. Yes, always use that flight following. It just gives you an extra comfort level. They will even let you know if you are drifting off course if you have a significant deviation. (I know from personal experience) Good luck on the rest of the training!
Thank you.
Congrats Brian! Well done!!
Thanks man. I'll give you a call sometime for details.
Congrats!

If you ever make it up to VRB, let me know :)
Will do. I think I'm heading to Ft. Pierce for my next x-country.

so you never learned about flight following during ground, and your instructor has never mentioned it to you?
Not that I remember. I had heard of it before but didn't really know what it was. But like said earlier, if I had known that it was an option, I would have used it.
 

PGT

Well-Known Member
Flight following is the shizznit! I absolutely love it.

Question:
Under flight following, while VFR, can I change altitude without ATC's permission if in Class E airpsace? I believe so (complying with altitude rules though), not that I would ever do it but just wanted to confirm it.
 

TheFlyingTurkey

Fetus Worshiper
Congrats Brian!

Actually you were flying in a pretty busy piece of airspace. I know when I worked at Pan Am in FPR I trained my IFR students at the PHK VOR all the time. There could be 1-2 guys teaching holds over the VOR at different VFR altitudes. I would always broadcast my position on the PHK frequency. OBE can be very busy too, with student pilots learning to land there.

Use flight following and have fun!
 

taseal

Well-Known Member
Will do. So Miami center if heading South and Palm Beach approach if heading North?
Most of the time you get handed off to PBI RIGHT around boca, so I would call PBI app (125.2). if I was around pompano, it would be miami @ app at 119.7 IIRC
 

PaulRix

Well-Known Member
Congrats on completing your first solo Cross Country flight! Your CFI deserves a slap for not teaching you how to use Flight Following though. I would recommend you learn about it and use it on all X-Country flights. Flight following gives you two things.. the added safety factor and experience with communicating with ATC (which will help a lot when you start training for your instrument rating).
 
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