Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Flying Lesson #25 - Romeo, Romeo, Oh! There Thou Art Romeo!

Today finally the weather was decent enough to get airborne.

Today the task was to fly and navigate to Romeo airfield (D98) and do some uncontrolled pattern work.

I had just for practice previously written out a navigation checkpoint list for Romeo and it came in handy. I had the course already laid out, all the checkpoints identified and had already drawn a diagram of the airfield from the online airfield directory,so it was all close to hand.

This made it very easy to navigate there, and I hit my checkpoints pretty nicely, getting a little off by the shape of a couple lakes, which are some of the main checkpoints in the area but it was ok. Not the best naviguessing and pilotage in the world, as I didn't know exactly where I was all the time, but I knew where I was going and was quite sure I knew where I was not and I got there.

So I got to Romeo, announced on the CTAF that I was there, overflew the field and setup to a left pattern downwind for runway 18. Pattern entry is something I need to work on, but I'm figuring it out.

Romeo's runway is 4,000 feet long but only 75 feet wide so it seems kinda small when you come up on it. This results in you thinking you're higher than you actually are on approach.

So I did the first landing which was not great, and then we went to a full stop and taxied back to do it again.

Overall my approached are getting much more stabilized but my roundout and flare still suck - I either pull back too early and float up and then have a nice bounce, or I don't do enough and do not pull back long and hard enough and we come in rather flat. No frickin' clue how to fix it as I've been trying and it all just seems to suck either way with no in between. I'll just keep at it I guess.

Overall, the uncontrolled field was kinda fun - we were the only ones around for most of it, with all of one other aircraft entering the airspace only to fly on by after announcing he was overflying the field. There was no PAPI so getting the height right on the approach was all eyeball and I did ok.

Then we flew back to KPTK and while I sucked navigating back especially due to some haze that had rolled in, once I found the airport I had to setup for a right base entry as directed by the tower which was a bit of a head-scratcher until I diagrammed it out. In short, I then came in way too fast, didn't get the picture early enough to do a good setup for a landing so I didn't bleed off nearly enough speed or get setup right. As a result, I announced to Sean I was doing a go around as it wasn't feeling good at all. He said ok, I told the tower I was going around and then went around. Apparently my decision to do a go-around was an exercise in good judgment, so yay me.

Then I settled into the pattern, went around and got it landed flatish yet again, and again not enough roundout and holding it off, but I was landed - so there. Then I taxied on back following a large turboprop and that was the end of lesson 25.

Also this lesson I experimented with Foreflight - It's a preflight planner and moving map/navigation tool for your iPad/iPhone what have you. To say that it is all that and a bag of chips would be an understatement.

Not only will it give you a course and heading and a moving map to show your position as you fly, it adjusts your suggested course for wind effect on the fly, and calculates your groundspeed. It even warns you when you're approaching a runway to prevent runway incursions when you're on the ground. Awesome that it knows where you are that precisely. It worked perfectly with my Ipad Air 2 and its onboard GPS.

I deliberately didn't look at it during the navigation excercises to and from Romeo until after I already had a fix using just the paper map and visual cues outside the plane, but wow is it awesome! Given that the plane has a built in Garmin GPS and I'd have Foreflight along, getting lost would be next to impossible - so of course you can't use them and still have to know how to use ye olde paper map and outside references. I understand and appreciate that, but the GPS tools are so much easier and safer to use it's not even funny.

That's 2 more hours and 6 more landings. Some fun, some frustration, and Lesson 25 was done.


Murphy's Law said...

Satellite-based GPS stuff is cool..until you lose the satellite lock or the power cord comes lose or any of a number of other things that can and will happen. Don't rely on it, and when it gives you speed or altitude readings that are different from your actual instruments, know that the dash panel instruments are right and the GPS is wrong.

juvat said...

Concur with Murph. In the end, trust your eyes and confirm them. If the GPS says your at Point A, check the Map, check the TACAN, INS, VOR. When the main heading indicator says you're headed North, confirm it with the backup heading indicator and then with the Whiskey Compass. DAMHIK!

Flying is a participatory, not spectator, sport. Spectators are regularly killed in it, participators only occasionally.

Aaron said...

ML: Yes, I know. I figure with two/three GPS systems on board and the aircraft's instruments, and a paper map I should be in good shape.

juvat: I agree, can't have too many backups or checks. Interestingly enough, VOR around here is on the way out. While they appear on the sectional, quite a few are NOTAM'ed as DOA. I'm definitely getting my participation award trying to figure this stuff out these days....