Yesterday morning, I took the biggest step in flight training since my first solo flight. With 15.9 total flight training hours, 44 landings and takeoffs, and 2.7 hours of solo flight time, I set out on my first solo cross country flight from Hanover, VA KOFP to Farmville, VA KFVX.

After having had my first opportunity for a solo cross country cancelled due to weather, I was excited to see if everything would work out for Thursday morning. In addition, the day before I was scheduled to fly, there had been a slight mechanical problem with the plane. I wasn’t sure if everything would work out. Arriving at the airport, I was happy to find light winds and a fixed plane!

When I called 1-800-WX-BRIEF to file a VFR Flight Plan and get a Standard Weather Briefing, I found the winds to be pretty good. There were clear skies for the whole flight, 10 miles of visibility, and it wasn’t too hot! Interpolating between 3,000 and 6,000 feet, the winds were about 15kts. At Farmville FVX, the surface winds were shooting straight down runway 21 at only 6kts. I called my instructor to get the go ahead for the flight.

My flight plan was to take me over the Flat Rock (FAK) VOR station, and straight on to Farmville. Coming back, I planned to fly Northeast, hit the James River, and follow it back to the Richmond/Hanover area. Here are some images from an online flight plan that I created. (*note, I did not use these plans for the actual flight, I used a Sectional Map):

Here is the video of the first solo cross country from my Youtube Channel: MartinsAviation1. In the video, I use a combination of head-strap and suction cup mounts:


Taking off from runway 34 at Hanover KOFP, I was excited for my first chance to really start “going places” by myself. The first solo cross country flight for any student is a big deal. It’s the first time that you’re not restricted to a 25nm bubble around your home airport. With the ability to fly cross country flights, I can now, in theory, fly myself anywhere in and out of the state non-stop.

Arriving into Farmville, I made a courtesy radio call at 10nm and 3nm out from the airport. I only really made one mistake during the whole flight, I almost set myself up to land on runway 3 at Farmville FVX vs. Runway 21 (which had more favorable winds). I quickly discovered that error, and corrected my entry point into the airport’s pattern. The landing in Farmville went well. There was a slight crosswind, but nothing too bad. It was good practice!

One interesting part about the Farmville Airport is that there are no true taxiways. One has to use the taxi “loops” paved on the sides of the runway. After landing on runway 21, I proceded down the runway, made a loop, and back-tracked (on the runway) to the run-up area. I did one more pattern at Farmville for practice. I thought it’d be fun to go for another round. You can see much of this in the video above.

Returning to Hanover was pretty fun. I got to fly at a lower altitude, so I could see a little bit more below me. As planned, I flew towards the James River, and once hitting it, followed it back into the Richmond Area. By now, there was a layer of “few” clouds at 3,000ft… that made things pretty fun!

Landing and taxiing to the ramp area at Hanover I had some time to reflect on all that I had just done. It went by so fast, almost feeling like a blur! When you’re on your first solo cross country, you don’t have too much time to think about anything other than flying the plane to your destination. That’s one of my favorite parts of flying: you have the chance to forget about everything that’s going on back home or on the ground.

I can’t wait to see what airport I’ll be flying into next on more cross countries! Saturday morning, I fly through Philadelphia (PHL) to New Orleans (MSY) for a family reunion in Gulf Shores, AL. I’m starting to do this thing where I take a flight lesson wherever I travel. I’ll be taking a lesson in Gulf Shores, Lake Tahoe, and in the Outer Banks (First Flight, Kitty Hawk) over this summer.

Look out for more posts coming soon! Thanks for reading!,
Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

13 Responses

  1. capnaux

    Fantastic, Swayne, congratulations on the Next Big Step in your aviation journey!

    I especially love the vid–great, upbeat, lots of fun to watch–I learned a thing or two about how to use that wonderful GoPro!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Eric “Cap’n Aux”

    • Swayne Martin

      Thanks Eric!

      The video took a lot of time to make… so many gb’s of video! Lots of editing was necessary

      Thanks again for the comment,

  2. Matt Dearden

    Great stuff Swayne! And congratulations on yet another step in your life as a pilot. I remember my first solo cross country well, I think I actually enjoyed it even more than my first solo as finally I was actually going somewhere rather than doing circles in the sky.

    Nice little video too, very well edited. I know all about how time consuming it is to edit down gigabytes of footage into something watchable. Nice job!

    PS thanks for the email and nice to hear from you. I’m still loving bush flying around the mountains of Papua and feel very privileged to be able to do so. As always my blog has the latest posts on what I’m up to :o)

    Matt (IndoPilot)

    • Swayne Martin

      Thanks so much Matt! That’s kinda how I felt… no longer restricted by the pattern or a 25nm bubble.

      You’re completely right about that video… haha must’ve taken me at least a few hours of downloading, uploading, processing, editing, etc! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Glad everything has been going well in Papua,
      I’ve been following your blog,

  3. Dave

    Congrats Swayne. Looks like it was a good time, and that is what it should be all about at this point. I love your energy as it relates to flying. It is the perfect balance between work and pleasure. Before you know it you will have that PPL in hand.

  4. Renewed Pilot

    Hey Swayne…

    Congratulations on your first solo cross country.

    I love the video. It really brought me back in time to my early days.

    I hate to be “that guy,” but I can feel my inner CFI coming out. As much as I love to video, please keep in mind that the flying comes first. Don’t ever let all the recording and blogging get in the way of the task at hand. Make sure flying the plane and good decision making always trump the technology. As exciting as it is, I can also see how it could be a distraction. I just want to see you stay safe.

    Again, congratulations! I’m sure it won’t be long we’ll be reading about the private pilot check ride.

    • Swayne Martin

      Hey Brian!

      Thanks for the comment. And I completely understand. I had to figure out a few techniques on how to film without it becoming a distraction or getting in the way before I could go solo.

      I appreciate your concern, and fully understand. I make a real effort to concentrate solely upon flying when it is the task at hand.

      Thanks again,

  5. Zidane Hadeed

    Congratulations Swayne, before you know it, you’ll be pilot soon. Keep hanging on to that dream cause it will help you go a long way, just don’t forget us when you’re in the Airline pilot business oh, my first solo was in the Caribbean islands, so much fun.


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