My First Lesson As a Private Pilot . . .
Tonight was my first lesson towards my commercial rating. More importantly, it was my first lesson as a private pilot!
It wasn't a huge difference from my previous lessons except that this lesson was more about getting comfortable with towered airports other than the Class D where I flew my first solo towered cross-country.
With that goal, I selected KFAY (Fayetteville Regional). It is class C airspace and about 69 miles away from my home base.
We left the immediate area of the airport once we lifted off and then called the local FSS to open the VFR flight plan. Afterward, we called Raleigh Approach and requested flight following:
"Raleigh Approach, Helicopter N7717Z 10 Miles to the South-east at 2000' en-route to Fayetteville. Request Flight Following."
"Helicopter 7717Z, sqawk 0430 and ident"
"Sqawking 0430 and identing"
"Helicopter 7717Z, we have you at 2000, 6 miles NE of Hartnett Regional."
Pretty cool I hadn't done that before but it was easier than I had expected (just so you know, the conversation isn't verbatim, but its pretty close).
After a while they tell us they're terminating coverage and for us to squawk VFR.
Next we call Fayetteville Approach. For some reason, they couldn't see our transponder until we had climbed to 2500' but after that, they provided flight following and then handed us off to the tower. The tower cleared us to land immediately and there was no one else in the pattern or even in the area.
The runway was very clear even 10 miles out (it's huge!) and we went in for a landing (we did an auto). Afterward, we requested departure to the Northwest and were given clearance to depart direct so, away we went.
Since we only climbed to 1000' on the way back, we were outside the Class C airspace after about 5nm and called requesting to squawk VFR (1200). They gave permission, terminated radar contact and we headed back.
All in all, it was a great flight. I learned some new stuff, got more comfortable on the stick (my speed and altitude were spot on, my heading control was off a bit at times - usually when I was messing with the radio or GPS), and had an enjoyable and relatively uneventful flight.
I'm really looking forward to moving on with my commercial rating and this was a great start for me.
P.S. I forgot to close my flight plan and my CFI got called after we had landed. Ooops! Definitely one to remember for next time. I need to get in the habit of closing in the air. I'll do this next time for sure.