My first flight as a private pilot, bringing LN-HOG back from ENNO to ENHD after service/yearly. Had to take the long way around the coast due to low clouds in the mountains. Cloud along the way also meant I couldn’t go as high as I wanted to.
Not the weather we hoped for
The initial plan was to take the bus from Haugesund to Notodden, and bring my wife with me as my first passenger. But the time table is severely limited due to Corona, so we had to take the car instead. That meant that my wife had to bring the car back, and I had to fly alone.
The weather wasn’t too bad when we left early to start on the five hour drive to Notodden.
The plan was to fly directly over the mountain from Notodden to Karmøy, which should take about one hour and 15-20 minutes.
However, the clear skies the forecast promised was nowhere to be seen, and it didn’t take long to realize that we had to come up with a new plan.
We knew all along that simply having to go back without the airplane was an option, but luckily the clouds were high enough to get from Notodden to the coastline. So a new plan was made, new flightplan submitted, the airplane prepared, and before I knew it I was sitting there with the engine running.
Since I’ve done my training from a controlled airport, I’ve actually never departed from an uncontrolled/AFIS airport before. It’s safe to say that I learnt a lot on this trip.
I left Notodden behind, and switched to Farris Approach after passing Nautesund. This route, which I was kind of unprepared for, took me across a lot of different airspaces. But I quickly realized that the controllers here are just as nice as the ones I’m used to back home.
Not much traffic, and mostly smooth air helped make this a very pleasant flight. The varying level of clouds meant I had to keep changing altitude, since I wanted to fly as high as possible. The friendly controllers gave me plenty of space to work with.
The clouds made me go lower than I wanted, but at least they didn’t block the sun. Which made the journey south towards Kristiansand very scenic!
I’ve always though Farris would be a busy frequency, but there was almost no traffic today, and none that affected me.
When approaching Arendal, I was told to switch to Kjevik Approach, which allowed me to continue with the same flexibility as I had in Farris.
I don’t know why, but I find it fascinating to view airports from above.
Flying as low as I did at least gave me the advantage of being able to see the cities I flew over. It’s hard to describe the feeling, but being able to fly high above people and all the problems of the world in the middle of this pandemic was simply amazing. For a few hours, it felt like everything was perfect.
After a while, I left Kjevik Approach and checked in with Polaris. Flying in uncontrolled airspace, with no traffic, meant the radio stayed very quiet for this part of the journey.
Not as smooth anymore
The weather, besides from the clouds, had been impeccable all the way down to the southernmost tip of Norway. But once I started turning Northwestbound, things started to get a bit bumpy.
During my training, I often joked that it was the windmills that made the air so turbulent here. But it’s more the other way around, the windmills are here because the winds are strong. And the air is turbulent due to the mountains.
Usually we can climb higher to avoid the worst, but I couldn’t do that today. So I just had to reduce the speed, and sit through it.
At least the sun still helped make this a scenic flight!
Stay below TMA
As I was getting closer to home, it was time to switch over to Sola Approach. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, as they simply cancelled my PPR without any explanation (Sola require PPR for operation in TMA/CTR due to Corona) when I was getting the airplane ready in Notodden.
So when I asked to transit the TMA, I should have expected “Stay below TMA”, which is exactly what I got. The TMA shelves are very close in the southern part, and the lowest are as low as 700 feet!
Approach transferred me to Tower, which sounded just as surprised as me when I asked them to transit the CTR. But accommodating as they’ve always been to me, they gave me the best routing they could.
I passed Sola, and was handed back to Approach, which once again told me to stay below TMA. I didn’t want to cross from Tungenes to Karmøy at 700 feet, so I once again had to figure out a better route. But luckily, they changed their mind and cleared me to cross at 1500 feet.
When I switched to 120.5 and got the clearance to enter Karmøy Control, it really felt like coming home. And I got a huge feeling of accomplishment. Only a few miles left until I finished my first flight as a private pilot, and the longest one I’ve ever done!
The wind was a bit gusty, so this was by no means my prettiest landing - but I did it! I safely brought the airplane back home!
This was by far the longest flight I’ve ever done! And I’ve never crossed this many airspaces before.
two hours and 50 minutes
253 nautical miles
average ground speed of 97 kt (max 123 kt)
Always prepare for the unexpected!
I brought a lot of extra maps, they helped a lot!
Always prepare the next frequency when you have time, this helped keep the stress level to a minimum
Unknown airspaces aren’t as scary as I thought, not even close!
Uncontrolled airports are OK
Bringing water and food/snacks are important, I’m so glad I did