It’s been nearly two months since the last time I was up flying. Last week I scheduled some time with my CFI to take up a 172 for this afternoon. I trained in a Cessna 152, a two-seater, for financial reasons with the intent at some point in time to get checked out in a 4 seat Cessna 172. I was surprised at the ease in transitioning to the 172R. There were a few new things to learn because the 172R I took up today is fuel injected rather than a carburetor like the 152 I trained in so there was no carb heat to deal with but there was a fuel pump to learn about in the start-up procedure.
Another difference between the 152 and the 172 was the radio and navigation system. The 172R has a GPS system as well as two NAV/COM systems. It was very convenient to set up my tower and ground frequencies on one NAV/COM and my weather on the other NAV/COM. It really eases the workload as you are coming in to land the plane in they are already programmed in rather than having to dial them in as you are approaching the airport.
This afternoon the winds were strong and I had a lot of crosswind to deal with on landing. I was a little worried about the cross winds when it was time to land but I was surprised at how much easier the 172R was to land even with a crosswind. It is about 500 lbs heavier than the 152 and doesn’t seem to get blown around as much. I still need to work on my flare in the landing. My landings were a bit flat but no bounces and I managed to stay on the centerline which is always good. We went out to the practice area and worked on steep turns, stalls, and slow flight. I thought that they might be a bit rusty but went surprisingly smooth even in a different plane. Everything about the 172R seemed to be easier or maybe it was just because knowing that I am already a pilot takes the edge off and I could relax at the controls.
The past month has been very frustrating in trying to get my medical certification for my pilot’s license. When you are over 40 you need to have an exam every two years for a third class medical. Mine expired on July 31, 2010. Without it I can not fly without another pilot in the plane. I had to go to a new AME for my exam this year because the one I went to two years ago for my medical is no longer allowed to do flight physicals for the FAA. I chose an AME that was close to home but one I didn’t know. I went for my exam on July 6, 2010 to allow plenty of time to get it processed. At my exam I passed all portions except the phoria section with deals with depth perception. There is no standard for phoria for a third class medical so it shouldn’t have been a factor.
The AME sent me to a opthamologist to fill out an eye report to send in with my medical exam. I had the eye exam done and brought it to the AME’s office so he could send it in with my exam. The AME wasn’t too pleased with the way the eye report was filled out by my ophthalmologist and chose to call him and rake him over the coals but I think he finally got the information he needed for my report. I felt bad for my ophthalmologist. He’s a kind man and has always treated me with the greatest respect. Something I feel he didn’t get from the AME.
While I was out at AirVenture I got a phone call from my AME to inform me that he wouldn’t be issuing my medical certificate but he would be deferring it to the FAA office in Oklahoma. What this means for me as a pilot is that I cannot fly solo until my medical is issued. Also once the FAA receives my electronically transmitted forms they can choose to request more information. This process I am told can take as long as 90 days. I’m trying not to get depressed about the situation and work on some things like the 172 in the meantime. This was something I needed an instructor for anyway and hopefully it won’t take the full 90 days or more.
I plan on scheduling some more time with my CFI in the 172R in a couple of weeks. We are flying to a few local airports in our area so I can try some short field and soft field take offs and landings at some uncontrolled airports. I did all of my training at a controlled airport with a 7000′ runway which is not the norm for most airports to which I will be flying. It felt so good to get back in the plane today and realize that I didn’t forget what I had learned. I was a little worried about that after two months. I miss the time at the airport and listening to the hangar talk. We are in the middle of fly in season. I hope that my medical certificate will be issued in time to fly and enjoy some of the local fly ins for the first time as a PIC (Pilot In Command)!