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XXX Flight: LTG-2012-0907-1 in N12556 (Penny) for $
KSSI - KCNI (flying time 1:54)
Flight Notes:
Time to go home! It's the same drill as on the way down, with Laura flying out and then foggle time for me. (David Thorburn-Gundlach)

(201)
From KSSI (Malcolm McKinnon Airport) 2012-09-07 21:59:40 to KCNI (Cherokee County Municipal Airport) 2012-09-08 00:40:28 [01:54:00] with 0 day and 0 night landings.
David Thorburn-Gundlach (pilot-R) / Laura Thorburn-Gundlach (PIC-legal) / Madi Thorburn-Gundlach (passenger) / Quin Thorburn-Gundlach (passenger) /
Leg Notes:
I wish I had pictures of the radar coverage for the day. Wow! No, we were never near anything serious, but there was definitely activity all over the place. The hidden bonus, though, was that with all of the vectoring around weather we got to essentially fly direct even though we're not /G-equipped. Sweet :-)
[As a side note, not only do we not fly through anything heavy, we also don't like to fly over/in a solid layer that's close to the ground, as we want to have more than a few seconds' scan time if we have to descend; that's why we didn't leave (or, more accurately, try) on Monday as planned. Although ceilings were generally only around 3k ft, the coverage along our route was only scattered or broken, and so we always had some idea of the ground below us even at cruise altitude. YMMV.]
So, then, another great foggles-and-actual trip that saw us all the way to 8000 to go above most of the clouds but still left us popping a bunch of white balloons. It was very fun to hear Laura steeling herself for flying directly into a white wall ahead :-) The weather kept us quite busy with ATC, too, which led to a couple of honest unusual attitudes and more then a few unintended course deviations. Arrrgh! Very humbling. The good news, though, is that I think I finally got past the direction/altitude confusion thing -- when paying attention, that is.
What did we learn? Well, one more reason to love flying is that I can easily be in conditions that require ALL of my attention, which sure is different for a multitasker such as I; the first and foremost thing has to be to concentrate on flying above all else, be it talking to ATC, tuning for the next controller, or helping Laura find something. And when I do talk to someone, I need to fix my eyes on the AI instead of looking off into space and thinking as I am wont to do. What else? Hmmm... It seems that the VSI is a much better trend indicator than the altimeter itself; instead of keeping the altitude needle at a certain point, keep the VSI at 0. I'm gonna have to play with that one more, though, to really get it. Paying more attention to wings on the AI also helped; that *definitely* predicted a trend (which I quite understand), and it allowed me to make smaller corrections. Speaking of corrections, too, it's probably a good idea to get into the habit of not explaining or anything else when Laura points out something; just fix it. It's not even about pride or feedback; it's just critical to fix any error as soon and quickly as possible, and talking about it wastes time! Later, too, when I'm flying along and see something that needs correction, I can't spend the time to talk to myself abou tit; I need to just DO IT. Admittedly, this one will take some practice :-)
Despite all of the vectoring and the /U prominently in our info, we got at least a couple of GPS clearances on this trip, of course. I had fun with the last one, though, when she cleared us direct to KCNI and I pointed in that direction and then reminded her that we don't have GPS and asked how this heading looked, to which she replied with some surprise that it actually was quite good :-) Hey, that's situational awareness for you.
The last half hour or so was spent in descent near and under KATL's airspace, and as evening was coming on it was absolutely gorgeous -- but everything looked huge and crazy close as we were suddenly half the height above ground that we had been for a couple of hours! :-) Everything was smooth, though, and I gave the plane back to Laura to set up for a downwind entry and another night-ish landing. What a great trip!
(David Thorburn-Gundlach)