Flight Over My Hometown

Flying

With a population of about 1000, everyone really does know everybody. So when I decided on a whim to do a fly-over my Uncle jokingly told my Dad that I was probably piloting the plane that was buzzing them. Without knowing it he was right!

Double Springs Alabama

I scheduled the flight and reserved a Cessna 172, N984SP, a week before. The weather looked like it might be clear which is a bit out of the norm for spring in the south. As the day approached I kept checking the weather forecast and it stayed remarkably perfect for flying. This would be my first solo flight in the 172, I received my sign off a few weeks before (Cessna 172 Upgrade!).

I received some unexpected news on Monday morning, the day before my scheduled flight. My grandmother “Granny” had passed peacefully in her sleep at the age of 85. Her health had recently started declining fairly quickly so she was definitely in a much better place now. I thought about canceling the flight but wasn’t sure…

Not really thinking about my upcoming flight I was trying to figure out where I might fly or if I was going to fly. If I went I wanted to go about 50 mi so there are many airports in that range, most of them I had been to before. On the day of my scheduled flight a thought popped in my head, what if I flew to Double Springs and flew around where I grew up. It was a great thought and fit my 50 mi. range perfectly, 49 mi to be exact. So that was the plan, I plotted up the trip in my Garmin Pilot app on my iPad, it would only take me around 1.25 hours which was about as long as I wanted to fly. I submitted the flight plan and headed for the airport.

Shortly after taking off from Redstone Army Airfield I started talking to Huntsville Departure to get clearance thought the airspace, since I had to cross in front of HSV on the way out of Huntsville. I entered 3M2 (Double Springs-Winston County Airport) into the GPS. After I passed Decatur airport I was cleared onto my course, I found an aimpoint that looked to be a forest fire. I turned out to be just accross Smith Lake from the Double Springs Airport. (see pic below)

IMG_1627

Prescribed Burn of the forest across the river from Double Springs airport.


About 30 min later I was over the airport and turned toward the city to do a little bit of sightseeing. Posted below are a few pictures of my family’s land; Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and Grandmother. When I was a kid I ran all around that lake and had many good times on the “Hill” across from the ball fields.

The “Hill” just between the ball fields and the lake.

The lake, spent many times fishing and being chased by the geese…

Another view of the “Hll”, taken from about 1800′ AGL.

My flight path was recorded by ATC (Huntsville tower and Memphis Center).

FlightAware Flight Details

FlightAware Flight Details

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Cessna 172 Upgrade!

Flight Training

1999 Cessna 172S

To get the 172 sign-off I had to take about 5-8 hours in instruction with my flight instructor which resulted in about 4 lessons including 1 night cross country flight! The extra instruction was to demonstrate I have the knowledge to safely operate the airplane. It had more complex systems and has a bit different setup. So what does the 172 have to offer over the 152? The largest difference are the 2 extra seats along with more than double the payload capacity. A few of the flying clubs 172s have autopilot’s which is nice for longer trips. All of the 172s in the flying club have full color map GPS navigation systems as well. The best part about the Cessna 172 is that it is the safest general aviation aircraft on record.

HUA to LUG Night X-Country C172

My cross country night flight was the highlight of my 172 training! The flight was planned from Redstone to Lewisburg, TN and back to Huntsville International then a final landing back at Redstone. See flight to Lewisburg, TN (Ellington Field) detailed here. We departed about an hour after sunset into a spectacularly clear sky at dusk, you could see literally for miles, probably 40 miles visibility at 5500′ altitude. The air was clear and smooth as silk which made for a very short flight.

On the return flight to HSV I was able to try out the auto-pilot, this was always something I wanted to do and it was pretty cool to activate it and watch it track the GPS course with very high precision. I’m not sure what I expected it to do but but it put a smile on my face as it took the controls out of my hands.

I now have 5 more airplanes to add to my list of planes to fly at Redstone, so aircraft availability shouldn’t keep me from flying. Now I have to work on getting some better weather, February was an awful weather month and delayed my 172 training. Hopefully spring is here to stay and good flying weather will be more abundant. 

My Cessna 172 training flights used all 5 redstone 172s, they are a mix of 172N, 172S and 172R models ranging from 1978 to 2002 model years. It took a total of 6.3 Dual Training hours (with flight instructor) on 5 flights.