I started out at 8:00 this morning. The plan was to do some navigation work and maybe a stop at College Station. We did our pre-plan, gathering all of the information we would need - primarily tower and navigation frequencies - then we taxied out to the runway. I think I’ve mentioned before that the taxiways at this airport don’t quite reach the south end, so when the big birds want to fly, they have to taxi to the runway, then enter the runway and back-taxi all the way to the end so they have plenty of runway for takeoff. This morning was the same story. I had to wait on a big bird.

When a small plane follows a big one, there’s always the risk of running into wake turbulence. The solution is to either wait for the turbulence to dissipate, or take off above the flight path of the bigger bird. In order to do this, the tower instructed us to taxi back and take off from the end of the runway! Who’s the big bird now?!?

We got into the air and turned northwest, tuning in the beacon on the VOR and I got my first experience navigating with gauges instead of GPS. Unfortunately, College Station was smothered by low-lying clouds, so we had to divert to Brenham.

That was OK. It gave me a chance to look up the airways while in flight and determine which radial to fly outbound to get to my target. The line of clouds was drifting south, so we barely had enough time to get in a single touch-and-go before the clouds overtook Brenham. Whew!

Advertisement

From there it was a fast dash back to home base. As I was leaving, I passed through the hangars to take a few pictures. Check these out!

Cessna Skymaster
Pitts Biplane. I’m not sure how old this fellow was, but he was definitely of retirement age. He was wearing a flight suit, military-style helmet, and a parachute. I was told later he does his best to fly the wings off that plane every weekend.

Advertisement

Here we have a V-tail Bonanza and what one pilot identified as a Harmon Rocket.

After an afternoon break, I went back to the airport for my first night flight.

This is Houston from the air at night. I found out how bad the iPhone camera is for night shots.

Advertisement

We practiced navigation at night with a quick trip up to Navasota where I had a chance to make my first night landing. We came back to Hooks so I could get one of the requirements out of the way - 10 take-offs and 10 landings at a controlled airport at night. That was a bit of a grind, but well worth it.

The next weekend of flying will feature two long cross-country flights, one during the day, the other at night!