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First solo cross country

5K6 - 3CK - KDKB - KLOT

Last Friday was the first time I used the airplane for a purpose other than fun.  For my very first solo cross country, I visited my flying friends Tim and Anthony at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL.  Anthony invited me to visit him for the day, and with the university right on the airport, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fly down and meet him.  I arrived at Westosha at 7:30 in the morning to meet with Greg Smith.  Greg is an instructor at Westosha and agreed to look over my flight plan.  With the technicalities signed off, I wished Greg a good day, preflighted N25351 (which I had flown the last time it was started up) and departed south towards Lewis University.  I planned my route from Westosha to Lake in the Hills airport (where I took flight lessons previously) then to De Kalb airport and finally to Lewis University airport.  The reason I planned a round-about way to Lewis is because of O’ Hare’s airspace.  Being a student pilot in a small Cessna, I did not want to have to deal with the added stress of navigating huge jumbo jets.  The trip to Lewis went almost flawlessly.  I arrived at Lewis within 15 minutes of my plan.  Lewis University airport is easy to find because of the cluster of smoke stacks near the airport.  It really helps in identifying the airport.  I set up in the traffic pattern to land and came in way too high.  About a third down the runway I was still too high, so I punched in some power and performed a go around.  My second approach to land was nice and long to give me time to prepare for landing.  My flare and touchdown were not the best in the world but I’ve definitely had worse.  Approximately three seconds after touch down, the nose of the aircraft begins to shake violently.  The airplane began to swerve back and forth on the runway emitting a loud, fast-paced thumping noise from the nose.  After comprehending what was happening, I realized that something happened to the nose wheel.  At this point, I wasn’t sure what exactly happened.  I did know, however, that weight needed to be taken off the wheel.  I increased power slightly and pulled the yoke all the way back to try to ease the nose wheel off of the pavement.  Once I was clear of the runway, I shut the plane down and inspected the damage.  The tire was detached from the rim but still in one piece.  I called Anthony to tell him I arrived and I needed some assistance.  He and Tim both came and helped me push the plane into a parking spot.  After having a mechanic inspect it and determine that the tube had broken (according to the mechanic, it was due to fatigue, not my hard landing :p ), I called Greg to figure out what to do.  At Westosha, if maintenance needs to be performed, a club board member (Greg) must approve the maintenance.  After giving the mechanic my information, Anthony and Tim showed me around Lewis.  It was a very nice campus.  It wasn’t as big as other universities but it still took a good 7 minutes to walk end to end.  Another benefit of the campus was that it was right on the airport.  All in all, it was a good tour.  Tim and I headed over to the airport around 3:30 to take care of the repair while Anthony left to drive to Westosha for a lesson.  We sat down with a nice lady from Windwalkers who explained what they had done and what was going to be done as far as payment.  Their mechanics had replaced the broken tube and filled the tire up with compressed nitrogen.  Because I didn’t actually own the plane, it belonged to the club, they sent the $200 bill to the club. In the worst case scenario that the club didn’t pay, a lien could be placed on the plane making it impossible to sell.  With the whole tire fiasco taken care of, it was finally time to depart.  Right before takeoff, I taxied over to the self-serve gas pumps to top off the tanks.  Greg was saying earlier “the only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire”.  I would be reimbursed for the fuel anyway, so it would be dumb not to side with safety.  The trip home was uneventful.  I requested flight following on the way home in hopes that my flight would be published on flight aware but I have not been able to find it.  The landing back at Westosha was uneventful.  Overall, it was great trip and an even greater learning experience.  I’m looking forward to my next solo cross country.  Thanks for reading everyone!!!

-Evan Krueger

3 Responses to “First solo cross country”

  1. Congratulations on your Cross Country! It's just the beginning of your great aviating future.
    Smitty -

  2. Bobby Patterson Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. Fledgling pilots like me are always in pursuit of uplifting, inspriing, and insightful stories of others who continue to slip the bonds of earth as well.

  3. I think Flight Aware only tracks IFR flights?

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