The flight was gorgeous scenery of course, but I left most of the sightseeing and photo taking to Emily as I handled the controls.
The weather was exceptionally good. We were able to see all three mountain tops when most tours are lucky to see one or two from the coast. Our counter-clockwise trip took us over the active lava flows where Hawk took the controls and flew lower Part 136 altitudes while Emily and I ogoled the natural wonder.
After that, I took the controls again and we headed toward Hilo, brushing the underside of broken clouds around 3,000. On the far side of Hilo, we angled upslope to avoid incoming rain, but then I let hawk take the the controls and take us on the more scenic trail through the rain and low/no visibility.
Coming around the north side, the skies were clear, but we got a bout of light turbulence. Emily was mildly shaken, but I did a very good job holding altitude within 50 feet of 1,500. The downdrafts downwind of the saddle caught me off guard and I had to take decisive action when I noticed we had glided from 1,500 down to 1,100.
I told the instructor early on that I’d want him to do the landing if the crosswinds were too strong. After all, the most important things in my world were riding in that plane. When we set up for a long final at about 20 degrees left of the runway, we agreed that the landing would be doable.
We were following a light plane doing a touch and go and we were some distance ahead of a larger jet. I maintained centerline fairly well, but flared too much and ballooned the touchdown. I made a good stabilizing re-approach at wingspan height, adjusting for crosswind, and set it down with enough room to take H taxiway back to the fuel station.
This is also the first time I was directly involved in a refuel. This isn’t your Chevron filling station. Well, okay, it was *a* Chevron filling station, but the everything involved was much beefier.