When I first woke up I assumed I wouldn’t be flying, as the weather was rubbish and the forecast didn’t look good, however it turned out to be one of those rare days where things turned out better than expected, and by 11:00 things were looking quite good (albeit still quite cold).
The route today was a triangular route out to the Northwest, with the first turning point being Raunds, then up North over Peterborough to Crowland, then back down to Cambridge.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download
I got to the airfield a little early in order to get my planning finished (taking in to account the wind conditions etc) – when the instructor (Jamie) got back from his previous lesson, we went through my PLOG to check it was right, and then it was time to go.
Fortunately the aircraft had been used already that day, so it was nice and warm which meant no waiting at the hold for it to come up to temperature (which at just over £3/minute gets quite expensive!). Once airborne I headed for a landmark known as point alpha (a distinctive double roundabout where the A14 meets the M11 and A428) – I initially was looking in the wrong place, but a quick prompt from the instructor sorted that out.
Once there, I turned on to the first heading and noted the time. At this point I misheard the instructor (he said time, but I heard ten), making me think it was 10:18, when actually it was 11:18, which led to some confusion later on!
Grafham water came in to view fairly quickly, and the route took us straight over this, so it became very easy to check we were on course. Throughout the route the instructor asked me to try and identify various towns to check we were where we should be, which took me a while at first (even big towns look quite small from the air, so correctly identifying them can be tricky), but by the end I think I’d managed it alright.
My climbing problem from nav 1 was back, but during the course of the exercise I realised why – I wasn’t properly trimming the aircraft and thus requiring a bit of a pull back on the controls, which then made it easy to pull back too much. Once properly trimmed I could essentially apply no pressure and then things pretty much stayed where they were supposed to (which is of course the whole idea of trim in the first place!).
We couldn’t raise Wittering to try and get a MATZ clearance, so instead we talked to London Information after leaving Cambridge.
As we got overhead Peterborough, it became clear that ahead of us the cloud base (which was below us) was thickening considerably, and so we decided to divert. I hadn’t had a briefing on this, so it was a bit of a trial by fire – the basic procedure is to plan a new route, estimate a heading for it (attempting to take in to account the wind), then fly that heading. It sounds simple enough, however attempting to draw a line on the chart while also maintaining an orbit around a point is ‘interesting’ to say the least.
Once on the diversion heading, doing a good gross error check and keeping an eye out for landmarks became even more important, as unlike my pre-planned headings there was a good chance this one wouldn’t be quite right. Fortunately things seemed to work out, and we proceeded pretty much on track (though I did keep drifting off heading for some reason, which I need to work on as that could cause me big problems on longer diversions).
The instructor did have to take control at one point on this leg as he spotted an aircraft at our 2:00 position same level, and he wanted to make sure we were out the way of it, as it would have been close otherwise and it had made no sign of having spotted us. I’d like to think I would have spotted it shortly afterwards on my own, however I think my lookout was a bit poor today (I was spending too long checking my heading/altitude and looking at the chart), so need to work on this in future.
We arrived at our diversion point (a village called Sutton), albeit a bit South of where we should be (but easy enough to fix). At that point it was then time to plan the next leg of the diversion to Cambridge – while we were close enough and there were enough familiar landmarks around that I could probably have got back anyway, it was still worth doing, and more practise at gross error checking and landmark recognition etc.
As we got back to Cambridge the instructor told me to get us in and he wouldn’t say anything – I eventually got visual with the field (after realising I’d been looking too far in front of us for a while), and opted to do an overhead join – if I’d got visual sooner I might have tried a crosswind as this would have saved a bit of time. This was all fairly straightforward, and the landing ended up as one of the nicest I’ve done so far, which I was happy with.