Monday, October 19, 2015

Flying Lesson #17 - Naviguessing Using VORs And Pilotage

Today while beautiful and sunny, came with a 20 knot shifting crosswind and some heavy wind shear and turbulence around 2,500-3,000 feet. So it was not a day for pattern work. Also we didn't have a plane suitable for pattern work.

N73455 wasn't back from the shop yet, N757MK was in the shop, and Papa Romeo was scheduled so that left me having my second flight in the Cessna 172RG Cutlass. Complex aircraft time.

I did the pre-flight and got it all ready, not a lot of difference from the fixed gear but there were some things to lookout for and I rigorously followed the checklist as usual.

Start up was a little different, as was finding some of the controls as they were in quite different places. But I got it started and all set and we were cleared to takeoff of Runway 27R. As we took off, there was one helluva gust that picked up from the left which made for not my best takeoff. I got to adjust the constant speed propeller which was interesting to do having read about it and now I could actually do it.

We headed off to the northeast to where we knew not, but would learn as that was the point of today's lesson.

Finding out where you are is important. Note that this is so important that, as can be learned at Chant Du Depart, the Navy has professional naviguessers, who are very good at their trade.

Today, I got to be the amateur at aerial navigation. I had a shiny new current sectional chart I had just bought for today's lesson. There's nothing like a new pilot and a new map. . . . .

I am pleased to report I did not violate any controlled airspace nor violate Canadian sovereign territory during this exercise, nor did I end up in Chicago.

However, in the immortal words of Winnie The Pooh, there were moments when it could be accurately stated: “I'm not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”

Something like that. After all I knew where I was - sitting in an airplane and flying it.

So I learned to fly the plane, handle the sectional map to lookup and then dial in VORs, identify VORs, then set the VORs properly and with two VORs properly setup figure out where I was by intersecting the two radials. All this while being bumped around pretty good. I was getting kinda busy up there.

Identifying VORs is rather important to be sure you're on the right one, which is checked via Morse code, but also as some are not functional and if you dial it in you won't get any response which will not be helpful. They're still listed on the sectional but they do not work. So I was setting VORs and working the radios to pick them up.

Listening to Saginaw's VOR was kinda interesting. There was not only morse code but there was also a voice - it was HIWAS, the Hazardous In-flight Weather Advisory Service, letting us know about Airmet Tango (turbulence) and other fun things. Good to know that's there.

Then Sean threw in a "your engine just died - what do you do?" emergency and he seemed pleased with my response overall.

Then we did some pilotage (this is the visually follow roads meaning of VFR) and I managed after some fumbling around to find out where I was and then find the Romeo airport which took a bit of doing. Then I pilotaged my way from Romeo back to KPTK.

I called the field when we were about 10 miles out, and then at 6 miles they called that we could come straight in but warned about some very shifting winds and wind shear.

Sean handled the landing which put the serious crosswind in a crosswind landing indeed. He made it look both smooth and ridiculously easy.

Not a bad 1.5 hours of aerial navigation instruction.

1 comment:

Murphy's Law said...

Busting Canada's airspace is no big deal. I mean, it's not like they have an air force to do anything about it. It's Canada...expect a harshly-worded post card where the author chastizes you for your violation then apologizes for bothering you.

"Engine out" drills were always fun for me, but the instructor quickly tired of my responding by dialing up 121.5 and screaming: "Oh my God, we're gonna die, we're gonna DIE!" and quit pulling them on me.

Seriously though, get good at those. When it happens for real, it needs to be instinctive. And if you practice enough, including AFTER you get licensed, it will be.