Friday, 2 August 2013

Sunday 28 July - A hop, skip and a diversion

Sunday I took my friend’s father up for a quick jolly around Kent. This is the same friend in fact who a few weeks beforehand had been flying with me. I must have left a reasonably good impression with my old school chum (I’m pretty sure we didn’t lose any filings on landing or anything) because he didn’t hesitate to accept the offer of taking his dad for a spin!

So, usual gig really, we met at Rochester airport around 9:45 and after some paperwork and briefing, off we trekked in one of Skytrek’s C152s. It was lovely to see how pleased he was for the rare treat of coming flying.

I wasn’t too delighted with the cloud base to be honest. I mean it would have been perfect to have something like “few at 65000 ft” but alas it was not to be (maybe one day). The previous night we had torrential rain all over the county and although the outlook was good with clear skies forecasted there was still patches of dark cumulus  scattered around the 2,200 ft mark. Wind was a brisk affair from SW at around 25 knots at 2000 ft. Leaving Rochester was uneventful but as we headed south towards Rye the cloud base had dropped to about 17000 ft and so I decided to skip that waypoint and head towards clearer skies to the NE. Off I headed to Ashford where I opted to continue a northerly track to Faversham and skip my intended waypoint which was Canterbury which was covered in fairly low cloud.

Once at Faversham the north Kent coast was bathed in sunlight and great visibility so the trip back to Rochester was rather pleasant and uneventful.

Upon reflection afterwards and self-analysis on my ‘performance’ here was my outcome

1) Plus. Fuel. I departed with 80 Ltrs after taking the decision to delay my departure to put in an uplift of 35 Lts. Although without the uplift I already had around twice as much endurance as I technically needed, I obviously had the weather and a possible diversion in mind and so I was pleased I delayed my departure and erred on the side of safety. I was pleased I didn’t let my eagerness fog my judgement.
2) Negative. QDM check on line-up. Forgot to align the HI with the compass cross checked to the runway when I lined up. I had previously checked the HI against compass but then forgot the last check with the runway. Not happy with that oversight. I remembered to set the transponder to Alt on the way to lining up so I wasn’t a complete klutz, but still. Must do better next time.
3) Plus. Circuit join, Landing, FREDA, unprompted Position Reports – all fine, speed control better than the last jolly although I was in Bravo November and not Kilo Victor which I think cruises at a friendlier pace.
4) Negative. Dithering before diversion. The area I am least happy with. Approaching Rye I think I should have made the decision to divert sooner and I should have been clearer about my intentions on the radio to Lydd Approach. Heading to Ashford I could see the area beyond clearer but what if it had not been? I did an orbit about 5 miles NW of Rye for some thinking and observation time. I noticed the route behind me had started to close off in terms of decent cloud base. What if the route to the NE hadn’t been some much better. Would I have struggled? Which leads on to …
5) Negative. Weather. Was my weather briefing truly sufficient? Should I have really erred on the side of caution and stayed local for some general handling? I cross checked several weather reports (actuals and forecasts) and I did even ask an instructor for their view before I left. However, my lesson learned here was you have to be comfortable with your own limits and although I handled the diversion would I really want to repeat that in a hurry? I don’t think so. I think next time when the weather looks like it is going to be ‘one of those days’ then I will make some phone calls covering the entire routes weather or maybe even better stay local for my aviation fix.
6) Just remembered another Negative. Although I spent time checking NOTAMS before I left home, when I was at the airport prior to departure I forgot to call the last minute NOTAM telephone number. I’ve never forgot that one before. I’m determined to make that the last time I ever do.

Thinking of all this, I’ve just had an idea of a personal post flight performance review form. This might support a healthy continuous improvement process , I really want to learn as much as I can and be the best possible Pilot I can be, so this kinda makes sense. Yup - I should do this and look to complete soon after each flight. Watch this space I guess.

Oh hang on – so lets end on a positive. 1) I went flying and experienced the beauty of flight and 2) as I said to my wife in the evening. To be in a position where you can take somebody flying and make then so happy is not just a honour and privilege but a truly humbling feeling indeed.

Next step is starting a tail dragging course at Headcorn and of course start work on the post flight performance review form. Brakes Off: 10:20 Brakes On: 11:20

HOURS = 49:15 DUAL + 21:00 PIC [P1]
Total Time = 70:15

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