Argh. Grounded owing to the really poor weather this morning. Never mind - thats flying I suppose. This week I had spent time getting ready for Ex 16 which is the forced landing drill and mentally preparing myself to complete my solo circuit work.
I had also spent a lot of time practicing my navigational skills in the simulator. I have to say, I've found it really useful just to use my simulator (x-plane) to fly a route that I've calculated using the wizz-wheel and general chart calculations. In doing so, I've spent a few nights this week flying to our well known aerodromes over kent which I know I will have to visit as part of my cross country at some point.
It's good when a plan comes together and you arrive (OK I know it is just a simulator) right over the runway bang on time. As part of this experiment, it is really useful because you get a 'feel' for your bearings (tracks between aerodromes) and the orientation of the runways. This has to hold you in some good stead when it comes to the actual time you drag your chart out and plan your flight for real.
Anyway, all that mucking about aside, in preparing for Ex 16 I found it educational to read about the 5 S'. These are 1) Size 2) Shape 3) Slope 4) Surface and 5) Surround. That is to say, en-route things turn bad (engine goes 'bang') and you have to find somewhere to land; consider your equivalent "10 degree down cone" in working out what is reachable. In picking that field, consider the size of the field and its shape. While a narrow strip of 2000 metres may look good, consider the approach and the limitations getting to it. Avoid slopes, but.... if thats what you have to contend with - try to land up slope for obvious reasons! The surface itself should ideally be as flat as possible and of course what actually surrounds your "field of choice" is very important. 300 ft conifers and a canal snaking its way round your ideal choice may not be such a good idea.
Anyway - all good stuff. A good week on the simulator learning about navigation. I am impressed how 'real' it can get to be honest. Also, I have to say, I'm really pleased I purchased the VFR scenary software for x-plane (and upgraded the RAM on my computer btw). It has made the experience more 'real' and really really good fun.... oh and educational of course.
Next week.... I hope to fly and complete my circuits. I really want to progress to the navigation section of the course!!