I flew three times last week. On Friday, T instructed me to fly at 3400′ around Lake Winnebago counter-clockwise and land back at Oshkosh. Well, all of the weather forecasts, satelite images, and ATIS broadcasts indicated clear skies, no clouds. As I headed south towards Fond du Lac, however, I noticed a layer of clouds (scattered) developing right at 3000′. So it was an opportunity for me to exercise some good judgement. I tried things out above the clouds, but I didn’t exactly feel like cruising at 5500′ and the clouds looked like they were getting thicker so I descended through a hole and made the turbulent circuit at 2000′.
I am finding that a great way to learn about procedures is to listen to other pilots talk to the controllers and vice versa. For example, I heard a pilot tell the Oshkosh controller that he was going to travel through the Oshkosh airspace at 6500′. The tower asked him to keep them apprised of any altitude changes, so later, when those clouds came into view for him, he notified them he was descending to 4500′ and later to 2500′. Also, I’m finding that when there is a question about some communication with the controller, it is alright to just ask the question and sometimes even explain why you have the question.