Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lesson 31 : Cross Country III and some Practical Radio Navigation

I woke up at 6:50 AM this morning to the sound of an absolute torrential downpour. However I knew from studying the weather reports the previous night it was probably a just a local summer shower. Sure enough when I got up to make some tea and went outside; half the sky was clear and the other half like a scene from a horror movie.

I logged onto my computer and ran up Sky Demon (Flight Planning Software)  to print to off my Pilots Log (PLOG) and then I went to the Met Briefing section of the Met Office website and printed off the weather report and low level spot wind report. A quick check on some other weather websites (I like and I was good to go.

I arrived at the airport about 8:30 and performed my checks on G-BNIV. My instructor arrived soon afterwards and after a chat informed me we were 'a go' for my 3rd navigation exercise. This was to be different than the previous two 'NavExs' as it was to use radio navigation. Previously the lessons were more about plotting and flying a course than using radio navigation techniques. Today was to be different. Aside from the use of a VOR and DME, there was also to be more radio telephony work although as it transpired this was only to be asking (Southend Approach and Manston Approach) for a basic service.

The course was to be Rochester, Southend, Whitstable, Manston, Dover, Detling and Rochester.

So then.. How did it all go? I took off on runway 20 fine (it was a bit gusty on the climb out over the M2 motorway) and circled back to depart Rochester overhead the aerodrome at 2000ft. On the climb out I called Rochester Information to let them know it was an overhead departure at 2000ft.  On circling back my instructor hinted that I should use just a shade of (left) rudder to accelerate the turn which worked a treat. I called Rochester Information to request frequency change to Southend Approach when I was entering the Isle of Grain. This was granted fine. However when I made contact with Southend Approach the Radio reception was really very poor. We could only hear every other word and then it was very strained.

At this point my instructor had a go trying different tricks but to no avail. We just about struggled to get rid of Southend and tried contact with Manston but after a brief promising contact the radio went beserk again.

So then, after making radio contact again with Rochester we skipped the Manston turnpoint and headed to the Dover VOR/DME. From this point forward the lesson proceeded well and after reaching Dover I headed North East and tuned in to the Detling VOR/DME.

It was interesting to fly "on the needle" but as it was explained and then demonstrated to me, it is coupled with the need to have positional awareness and be able to fly a sensible heading. Obviously the further  you are from the VOR then the greater degree of latitude you have. If you flew the needle too early then that can send you off track, albeit temporarily. As you get closer the tolerances become less. My instructor guided me with suggested 5 degree tweaks on both VOR tracking legs which gave me a good practical appreciation. I had already done the Navigation exam but this was a great practical exercise.

The landing back on Runway 20 had a 15 kt headwind from 190 degrees so the conditions were fine. It was good experience though, because as I was landing I got hit with a gust which sent me slightly aloft again. However with a suggestion from my instructor I just momentarily throttled in and then back again and gently landed. A nice recovery. That's something I'm glad I tried because it worked beautifully.

My instructor was pleased with today despite the radio problems and so was I. I didn't see many aircraft around today. The weather in the south of Kent was not that good with a cloud base around 2000 feet. Towards the north of Kent though it had became very clear by the time we had returned.

I have another lesson booked for next week..... which I am already so looking forward to. It was great to be flying again today. I loved it.

Logbook Entry:
31.11-09-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 09:30 10:40 1:10 1-1 EX18
03:00 SELF

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