Sunday, 7 August 2011

Lesson 27: My First Cross Country Navigation (Exercise 17)

A great day!!!

.... I had been looking forward to today so much as it was to be my first dual cross country navigation exercise. Since I found out about this on Wednesday, I had done some prep work plotting the course and thinking about visual reference points. I also flew some of it on the simulator.

The course we were to take was to go from Rochester, to Canterbury, to Ashford and back to Rochester. Looking at this I thought that perhaps on the return leg back to Rochester it would be good to avoid a couple of private airfields which were for paragliding and microlites. To do this I added on my route plan, another turnng point (waypoint), which was Royal Tunbridge Wells. In speaking to my instructor before the flight he said that wasn't strictly necessary but we would fly it anyway. I calculated the route to be around 74 nautical miles (nm). With an IAS of 95 knots taking around 48 minutes.

For the flight I took quarter mil and half mil charts and took the recommendation from my instructor that he prefers the quarter mil ones. These are avaiation charts which have a scale of 1:250 000.

For preparation I got up this morning and checked the met office website for the briefing bulletins Form 214 (low level spot winds) and Form 215 (synoptic chart). I also checked XCWEATHER.CO.UK. Yesterday, I setup SKYDEMON (Flight Planning Software) and spent some time both getting used to the application and also setting up my route. I have to say, I am really impressed with the way it lets you plot your route and for it all to come together with weather information (TAFS and METARS), and relevant NOTAMS. What a great piece of software and I look forward to using this in the future as it has so many useful features. As a precationary measure I also plotted the route manually to make sure all was well.

OK then, in terms of how it went, well, the wind was very strong which made it interesting. Forecasted to be around 25 knots it was gusting quite a bit more and the turbulence was noticeable at times. I kept fairly well on my headings despite being blown about abit and was pleased to go round the circuit pretty much on time. I had planned to keep to 2,100 ft altitude across the whole route but oscillated from 2,000 to 2,300 at times on a headwind leg. Mike my instructor was OK with this and was encouraging.

Despite the conditions, all my route plan legs flew well, and went something like:

Rochester - Canterbury (12 mins), eta = ata
Canterbury - Ashford (9 mins), eta = ata
Ashford - Bewl (15 mins) eta <> ata [Actual was 17 mins]
Bewl - Royal Tunbridge Wells (4 mins) eta = ata
Royal Tunbridge Wells - Rochester (8 mins) eta = ata

Basically all went well. I was a little out in the Ashford to Bewl leg but I think that's because I took a wider berth around the Headcorn ATZ upon advice from my instructor.

So then, things I learned and [need to think about] was

1) Learn about the new Radio Telecomms
2) get better cockpit organised (Knee board, maps etc)
3) plot the half way point and associate a visual marker to look for.
4) mark 10 degree lines on the chart route
5) maybe transpose key info from the plog to the chart.
6) keep doing those FREDA checks and keep a good lookout
7) keep listening to the radio comms for situational awareness.
8) plot your course in a good flight planner beforehand (like sky demon). Opening up the plan on the day of the flight wil refresh all the headings based on the current weather. All the other items like NOTAMS will also get refreshed!

For more information about Air Navigation here is a link on Wikipedia.

I did use my iPhone Motion-X GPS Lite App but it appears for some reason to have ended the route just before the final leg was about to happen! Anyway, the route is above, from Rochester back to Rochester. Brakes Off/On was 1 hour ten minutes in the end.

I have booked a lesson for next weekend which may (weather permitting) also be another Navigation Exercise (Rochester, Hastings Pier, Ashford and back to Rochester).

Today was a great day in my course because it was my first jolly out across country as a student and a valuable learning experience.

27.07-08-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 13:40 14:50 1:10 1-1 EX17
02:25 SELF

No comments:

Post a Comment