Later on in the day, the weather is looking more promising. With the exception of gusty winds, there is not much to complain about. Sure enough, two hours later I am printing off my weather briefing and going to meet my instructor. I discuss my thoughts on the weather with him, and we agree that it is safe to go ahead with the flight. After our pre-flight briefing, we are soon dispatched an aircraft. I decided to do the exterior pre-flight today, and my instructor gets to work on the interior pre-flight. The airplane is in one piece with full tanks and we are good to go.
The engine, after repeated attempts to start, is now flooded. We wait about 2 minutes, apply full throttle with mixture to idle, and she finally gets going. Mixture rich, throttle about a 1/4 inch, and we are in good condition. After our takeoff briefing, we are now taxiing to a very busy runway 17L.
Before takeoff checklist complete - time to get going! Full power and we are now approaching 54 knots to rotate and begin climbing into the skies over Grand Forks. Normally, our departure procedure here requires us to maintain runway heading up to 2,500ft and then turn 30º on course, once we reach 3,500ft we then turn on course. Luckily, tower lets us turn on course right away. With the early start, our groundspeed at the first checkpoint is relatively accurate.
Cockpit at 5,500ft enroute BDE
Left wing while enroute to BDE
Another cockpit photo while enroute at 5,500ft to BDE
After a relatively uneventful one hour flight, we are now beginning to descend into Baudette, MN. We descend quickly, and enter a 45º left downwind for runway 12. 200ft AGL and we are established on a stable approach. I begin to flare over the runway and we touchdown. Nothing too smooth or too firm. We stop on the runway, clean up the airplane (retract flaps to 10º for takeoff) and configure our flight plan to TVF. Full power now, 54 knots, and airborne. We quickly turn on course and soon enough we have reached our cruising altitude of 4,500ft. There is continuous light turbulence, with the occasional moderate chop. We run into some light rain showers along the way - still maintaining VFR. Of course, with the airmet zulu in effect, we turn on the pitot heat while in the precipitation and ensure the OAT is above freezing.
As we get closer to TVF, we begin the descent checklist and do the approach briefing. We are planning on doing 2 stop and go's, one short field, and one power off 180º landing - then back to Grand Forks. The short field landing and takeoff goes perfect, with great accuracy even with the wind gusting up to 20 knots. On the second approach, we are now abeam the numbers and I pull power to idle and begin the power off 180. I immediately start a turn to the runway at 68 knots (best glide) and go through the emergency checklist from memory. I'm now heading directly at the numbers, I start adding flaps and touchdown firmly with 20º of flaps on the second centerline stripe. Not bad. Bring her to a stop, configure the flight plan back to Grand Forks, and off we go.
We get back to Grand Forks a bit earlier than expected. As we approach the field, approach assigns us to enter via "East Ponds," a VFR reporting point used by ATC to manage traffic flow into Grand Forks. We report East Ponds, and get handed off to Tower where we report "Lagoon" at 1600ft. Soon after, we are on short final into runway 17L with full flaps. 200ft and the approach is stable so we continue. I begin to flare and the plane is really lagging, so we touchdown very firmly. In hindsight, I realize I didn't have the trim set correctly which made it harder to flare the aircraft, but it makes you realize how complacent you can become on the last leg of a long cross country.
We taxi in and shutdown uneventfully. The flight is good and we are onwards into lesson 4.