Situational Awareness with Perry Chmilar

I have a love/hate relationship with flying in October. On the one hand, I did my 150-mile cross country solo from City Center-St. Paul-Vegreville-City Center. The October weather was CAVOK, meaning almost no wind or clouds, temps in the +10-15C range. The scenery was fantastic, farmers working their fields, ducks & geese fattening up for their flight to the southern parts of the USA.

Three good landings & take-offs, a great experience, except for not switching the compass to the right heading from St. Paul to Vegreville, but that is a story for another column! On the other hand, I had a situation @ Cooking Lake that I will never forget! I was doing solo circuits, the weather was ideal & better yet I was the only one in the circuit. As the runway is short, all circuits are full-stop landings with a backtrack for the next circuit. On what ended up being my last circuit I was dialed in, airspeed & altitude spot on, t-checks & radio work is done on time, and I came in for a nice short field landing.

The only problem occurred after the landing when I looked out to see a cow moose & calf walking across the runway! What the______! How in the world could have I missed not seeing the moose when I was downwind or at least on final?! Were they bent down and I couldn’t see them or was I so zoned in on landing that I wasn’t paying enough attention outside the plane?