Monday, 16 August 2010

CPL training, part 3

More CPL navigation!  I was given the destination of a small village near Montgomery, in Powys.  It turns out, looking on Google Maps, that it was Weston Madoc though I did not know or need to know this at the time.  In keeping with last time, Liverpool were operating on runway 27 so we left the zone at Chester and the navigation was planned from there.  Much like the previous session, with the preparation done in advance, the flight went according to plan and saw us arrive at the halfway point slightly east of track.  I made a small correction to the course, but was admonished for doing this by feel rather than calculating a heading correction and applying it.  Sometimes experience isn't a good thing, and I must calculate headings for corrections in future.

Nevertheless, with a suitable heading correction applied, we arrived overhead our destination at the expected time.  It had been easy to see it coming - a lesson learned! - and be prepared to point out where it was.  As the town was close to Welshpool airfield, we talked to them and gave position reports to let any local pilots know that we were there.

Earlier, while I had been preparing the aircraft, my instructor had called an airfield to check that the cafe was open.  I knew the call had taken place (it was in fact my suggestion to do it while I checked the aircraft) but not which airfield it had been to.  This was so that I would not know where we would be diverting to with the planned navigation complete.  Above Weston Madoc, I was told to divert to Wellesbourne Mountford, a lovely airfield that I have been to several times.  As before, this involves guessing a heading from the chart, setting course and then planning the diversion  We turned east and I got to work with the protractor and ruler, finding that my original guess had been within a few degrees of the subsequent result.  With the small correction made and timings calculated, we were on our way

It quickly became clear that we were some way south of the intended track, and that my heading keeping had been well below my usual standard.  I plotted a new course and turned slightly left onto that heading, doing a much better job of holding it this time.  Even so, after a short time I noticed again that we were south of the intended track.  To confirm this, I was asked to make a quick position fix - no problem with a couple of VORDMEs around.  I used the HON to fix our position, confirming that we were indeed south of track.  Another correction and allowing some more for the wind saw us proceed to Wellesbourne without any further difficulties.  On the ground over a cup of coffee for my instructor and something soft for me we agreed that the northerly wind had been stronger than forecast and that by noticing the effect of this, I had done sufficient to satisfy both my instructor and the examiner.

On the return flight, after being careful not to climb above 1500ft and infringe Birmingham's airspace - runway 36 departures from Wellesbourne are the no. 1 infringement in the UK - we did some more general handling.  A few PFLs on the way west, before we could get high enough to do some steep turns and some stalls.  Nothing really to report, other than continuing to practice using rudder in the steep turns to maintain altitude without looking like I'm doing so.  Examiners apparently do not like this standard technique for aerobatic pilots!

Some way south of Liverpool my instructor was happy to just say "take me home" and let me get on with it.  I  have plenty of flights from and to there, so liaising with the controllers and getting home isn't a big deal.  We entered the zone at Oulton Park (as we were VFR) and proceeded along the usual set of clearances to Helsby, the south bank of the Mersey and then onto left base.  Again we had some fun squeezing in between airliners and were offered the chance, while orbiting over the south bank, to fit in between two 737s.  Hauling the aircraft round to point at a short final and keeping the speed up ensured that we made the gap without difficulty and I rounded off the day with a very smooth landing.

As we got closer to Liverpool after entering the zone, there was a chance to chat - the flying at that point is routine and easy and the conditions were easy VFR.  My instructor declared that I should do an instructor rating when I'm done with the CPL.  Easy for him to say; it's me that would have to pay for it!  It does interest me though.  I've always enjoyed taking other people flying and helping fellow pilots in situations that I have more experience with.  Maybe it'll happen...

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