Today I went flying at 11am. I got to the airport, preflighted RJE, did the briefing for low flying, and off we went. We were cleared to operate on the western side of the Nelson LFZ at 500ft and below, but we were also cleared to operate in the CTR en route at 700ft and below. So anyway we got there at 700ft, the instructor took control and descended us to 400ft. This is frickin low, believe me! She took me round the perimeter of the LFZ first in cruise configuration, and then in the poor weather configuration (this would often be used when doing low flying, because you usually only do low flying with a low could base (low cld base=bad weather!). The poor weather configuration is flaps 15*, throttle to about 1500rpm and landing lights on. This allows good visibility for all parties.
So after two laps of the LFZ perimeter, I took control in the poor weather configuration and did some turns. Unfortunately there was no wind today so I couldn't witness the slip and skid effects . After a few turns, I was shown a reversal turn (to go back where you came from with low visual reference). That went well, so the instructor did a river run for me! We went down to 50 feet in the cruise config along a river, at about treetop height. Much fun! After that we joined again at nelson and I did my (trademark) smooth landing .
After shutting down I decided to hang around for the all you can eat BBQ later that day. Many sausages and bits of bacon later I was called into the office by the CFI who asked me if I'd like to go on a flight in the club C172 (ETU, the aeroplane I did my first few hours on) to Karamea in the back seat, then fly it back at solo rates. I said yes. One of the club's students was going back home to Karamea in a C172 so he was to fly it one way, and I was to fly back to Nelson.
I measured the fuel and checked it for contaminants, and the pilot for the first leg did the rest. We also had another passenger who came along for the ride (for free!). We took off runway 02 and tracked to the west, cleared at 4500ft and below until clear of the zone. Once clear of the zone we could climb out to 9500ft before infringing on controlled airspace. We climbed to 5500 tracking to go between Mount arthur and it's twin, then move with the Karamea river through the Karamea Gorge. It was an awesome experience to have terrain only a few hundred feet away. We flew nicely through the valleys and descended down to join overhead Karamea, to see what the wind was doing. As we passed overhead a Piper archer departed east for Nelson/Motueka. The pilot joined right downwind for runway 19, and we landed nicely on the thin runway. We taxied to the parking, had a stretch and a toilet stop and said goodbye to the pilot.
We did a quick preflight and I jumped in the front seat. it was about 9 months since I'd strapped on a C172 and taxied out, read to roll. We did the run-up etc, and went. The Cessna 172 is much more heavy at the controls than the Tecnam, and at first I found it hard to make it go where I wanted it to. But after a while I got used to it. The instructor programmed our GPS (a bit more basic than the flashy one they give you in FS, but nonetheless useful!) when we were airborne, and we followed the same route to Nelson. We climbed and descended to avoid cloud, and once I came a bit to close to the terrain during the climb, but I think I flew well. We only spotted a little bit of traffic - the same Archer returning to KM and a Tecnam on short finals. There was a low cloud base smeared over Nelson, so I put my low flying to good use! (though we didn't quite need to go to 400ft ). My approach was good, and for the first time I landed a Cessna without a big thud (though no landing of mine in a 172 will ever be as good as in Tecnam I can see). We fuelled up and taxied back.
Awesome! In one day I flew the lowest I've ever flown (excluding approaches and landings), and did my first cross-country. And, .7 + .65=1.35 - a nice amount to add to my logbook I'llpost some diagrams of where we went later.