Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lesson 35: Cross Country Navigation and Low Flying

It was a great day today as I went flying. I loved it. When I arrived at the airfield I didn't think I would be lucky really owing to the problem of the high gusts blowing across the runway. This made for dangerous crosswinds. The windsock was up and down like a fliddlers elbow! 
After some ground school, the wind had abated slightly and it was decided the wind was OK for us to proceed. As I did my external aircraft checks the aeroplane rocked with the wind and it was two very cold hands I had by the time I jumped in to the aircraft!

Today's lesson was to be a cross country navigation trip taking us East to Maypole Farm airstrip and then turning onto a South Easterly heading over Canterbury, Ashford on towards our next turning point Battle (Scene of the Battle of Hastings). From here we were to turn North up through Maidstone and home to Rochester.

En-route we were to fly low though two hills while approaching Ashford. This involved slowing the aircraft down and putting one stage of flap down. This technique allows you more time for getting your bearings and deciding on your next move. With one stage of flap, your visibility is improved. 

During the ground school my instructor taught me how to calculate "on the fly" a detour to another location. He had a detour calculator (like a ruler really) which was rather simple but like all things in this sense quite clever. I need to get one of these and practice. He explained that the examiner at the end of the course would be asking me to demonstrate this skill. Note taken!

We were on Runway 20 Relief for take off which was new for me and the take off run required full ailerons into wind and then after rotation a head into wind. As we climed out over the motorway and hit the turbulance from the trees the aircraft did quite a dance up and down actually and I commented that map reading in these conditions was going to be quite a challenge. In fact, I thought that if I was to be thrown around like this for an hour then I would be feeling quite queesy by the end of it never mind map reading!

I climbed out and turned west climbing up to 2,000ft and then looped back upon myself for an overhead departure on a heading of 94 degrees magnetic.

The first leg went fine although the wind appeared to be from my left (which would have been from the North). Sky Demon and also the Met Office Spot Wind Chart I took in the morning had forecast a tailwind and a groundspeed of 140 knots! Still, I made a correction once I got to Whitstable and found the Maypole airstrip fine. Turning around and heading down SW over Canturbury and Ashford everything went fine. During the low level flight it wasnt too easy to get the plane in trim but then climbing to 2000 ft again things were calmer.

I found Battle easy enough, although I had studied the area during the week similar to Maypole. Maypole was always going to be easy given it's proximity to the coast and other distinctive land markings but I wasn't too confident I would keep on track from Ashford down the Battle. In the end it went well as the first thing I recognised coming in was the Darwell Reservoir close to Battle.
Coming back North from Battle was OK, passing Bewl Reservoir on the left, crossing the railway line that runs East/West with Paddock Wood on the left hand side and Headcorn on the right. Overhead Maidstone I made a call into Rochester Information. From here I joined the circuit for a straight in approach to Runway 34.
My instructor pretty much landed the aircraft at the end as we were faced with a 25 Knot 50 Degree crosswind, and on 34! Not nice.
All in all, I had a great day with 1:25 Dual in the logbook and despite the wind reasonable navigation. I learnt about low flight and how slowing it down and putting a stage of flap in can help things considerably!

35.27-11-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 11:05 12:30 1:25 1-1 EX18A/B

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