Well I have started the next step of my training. After officially having my certificate in my possession, I set out on my first solo flight as a Private Pilot. I probably couldn't have picked a more challenging flight.
About 75 miles south of Vero, along the east coast of Florida, is Boca Raton. Boca is just south of West Palm Beach, which is class C(charlie) airspace. This isn't like your typical airport, as it requires a little bit of finesse to get into it. Not as much as B(bravo) airspace, but close. Basically you just need to let them know you're coming, and if they acknowledge you, you're in the clear. Well they told me not to come into their airspace, must have been a busy day.
This started what was a fairly long, stressful flight. Staying clear of the airspace meant I had to navigate around the airport, about 20 miles away from it. I had to be very precise in knowing exactly where I was, so I didn't in-advertently enter the airspace.
I never got 'lost', but there were a few moments that I was unsure. However, after a few minutes, I started picking up some landmarks again. Once I made it around the airspace, I called up the tower at Boca, told them I was coming in! Since I was unfamiliar with the area, I had no idea what the field looked like, except for my airport diagram.
The controllers there were extremely helpful, and very patient with me. I told them I was having difficulty identifying the field, and they gave me suggestive headings, and progress reports of where the field should be. I eventually picked up the field about 2 miles out, and was cleared to land, never have words said to me been sweeter.
Once the wheels squeaked on the runway, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I made it. I went somewhere I had never been. I traversed multiple controlled airspace areas, and didn't hit anything! Success!
Once off the active runway, I made my way to an FBO on the field. I went inside for a soda, and to cancel my flight plan, and file my plan back home. I stayed inside for a few minutes, as it was a very warm day outside, and the air conditioning was helping me feel better.
I kept thinking about the way back, and wether I would try going through the airspace again, or divert around it. I decided to file a flight plan around the airspace, just in case I couldn't get in again. I jotted down some headings, and marked some checkpoints on my map, and headed out again.
The departure was good, and the cloud layers had risen, so I got to climb a little higher. This time when I called up Palm Beach approach, they acknowledged my request, and gave me some vectors for a transition. This made me feel a lot better. I wouldn't have to worry about busting airspace, and they gave me traffic advisories.
It was pretty uneventful on the way back, and before I knew it, I was on the ground, and out of the plane. After a very rewarding flight, and long day, I headed home. Very pleased with the way I flew, and the way I handled everything.
There will be many experiences like this I'm sure, and I can't wait to go through em!