Bryan Kendall

28 Oct 2013

Over the past couple months, I decided that I wanted to get my private pilot licence! It was a pretty straightforward process, and I ended up taking my checkride with just over 50 total hours (had 43 when I applied). Now I get to go explore the skies and fly on my own! It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made, and flying these little planes out of the big Austin-Bergstrom airport is always an adventure…

The trainers that I used were mostly Cessna 172s, but the school also has a couple 152s that are usually more available. It had been a while since I had taken one of the 152s out, so I was coming back from a quick trip to Lockhart where I was doing some practicing.

Flying out of Austin means that you usually have to be vectored around some of the usual commercial jet traffic. On a normal day, there are 2 runways that are used and there’s tons of room and time when using the runways. This particular day, one of the runways was closed so everyone was using 17R (the long runway, the one we usually aren’t directed towards).

Coming back this lovely afternoon, I was given the clearance to land behind a Southwest 737 - which is great since I was far enough out I could just keep pointed towards the jet and never catch up, and set right up for my landing. As I was making my way across the airport to set up a nice landing, another plane came onto the tower frequency: FexEx Heavy, landing after me.

Then, I got one of my favorite calls I get from Austin’s tower: “796, keep it tight and your speed up as much as practical, MD-80 following, 10 mile final.” This basically means I get to zip right down to the runway and get my butt on the ground and out of their way. “Long landing approved.” Perfect, now I get to really keep my speed up.

I set my nose towards the end of the runway, and turned my head back behind me to see the big FedEx plane coming in behind me. If there’s any good motivation to keep your speed up, a massive plane coming at twice your MAX speed is perfect.

Keeping my speed up all the way to the runway, I crossed the displaced threshold at about 115 knots indicated. With permission to land long (and almost 5000 feet of runway before I get to the first taxiway), I pulled out all the power, pitched up, and burned off all the speed right above the runway for a nice, smooth touchdown and rolled right off the runway. Looking back once I cleared the runway, I see Mr. FedEx Heavy coming right down, a couple miles away.

I know I enjoyed it when I started chuckling to myself, and contacted ground with a big stupid grin on my face.