Ok, I know you've had enough about the training area solo thing but I had 2 more flights out there last week (sorry still have one to go) and I had no luck finding that aussie pool (I have resisted temptations to search google earth). One morning saw a band of light fog stretching down form the northwest and covered a chunk of the training area, so no luck, I was more focused on staying above more visible (relevant) ground features - hey it's a legimate excuse. The next time, I thought, I've seen Warragamba a few times (and last time it had this brown "sludge" near the dam wall - suffice to say bottled water looked like a better option for the rest of that day) so I asked the instructor whether I could depart to the south, head around to YHOX and throw a few circuits in, then come back through Prospect. As long as your confident with that - then go for it. It felt much more satisfying and had the mind working a bit more (ie reporting points, heights, radio calls and some circuit practice etc etc). That gives me about 9 hours PIC (that's 9 hours more than I had just over a month ago).
Yesterday morning I was supposed to do my last hour of solo for this part of the course but alas the wind was 12 - 15 kts so solo was a no go. Ok back to work then , no let's talk about the lane of entry . Although I felt a little under prepared not having sat Nav yet, many things weren't unfamiliar (but there's a crap load for me to find out as well!) so we talked about planning / preparation, the weather, the map and what we could expect during (or to look out for) the flight. With a cloud base of about 3000ft and showers forecast it was a nice grey day and a bit bumpy on the way up. To be honest it all happens pretty fast - I've become used to the areas I frequent up until now but throw in a whole new area, a map, the radio and still trying to fly like you've been taught - it seems very busy at the moment - but it's gold because I can feel the confines of the training area being eroded away .
From choppers north to Parramatta not bad, up to Pennant Hills, not sure if I remember that strobe working or not (how many Airservices guys does it take to change a lightbulb - it's ok my brother in law works for them - that was purely for him - great bunch of people). I spotted the railway sheds and the rifle range at Hornsby ok, then adjust that heading and track over to trees and water - suddenly Cottage Point pops out and I'm reminded to make sure I'm actually aiming for Patonga as some of the peninsula's start looking alike. As we turned westward my instructor pointed out the very last house on the land mass opposite Dangar Island and there's a red H on someone's roof - not sure if they're having lend or they have a remote control chopper. Reminds of the decal you can get for the roof of a Mini (cool and have yet to see one).
At Brooklyn Bridge we turned south and it was stressed the importance of looking out for inbound (and outbound traffic in an area like this). We also made a voluntary broadcast and the map suggested I start looking for Berowra. Now I thought I had it sited but the instructor was looking and finding it elsewhere and it made me very aware about confirming what was actually seen and cross referenced to the map before assuming that the feature was correct and just start heading towards it (eg it's a definite heading away from the F3 but my track would have us more aligned to it - inexperience). Then I saw the strobe at Berowra and was now looking for either a substation or Round Hill (South Dural Tanks).
My first catch 22, strobes somewhat easier to see on days like this one (less glare) but makes it harder to make out certain features from the map. There's a substation that basically marks the corner of the Richmond control zone. But the grey horizon and the grey substation look the same - crap. Ooh picked up the strobe at Round Corner -cool. Change frequency and head towards Prospect (again not easy to pick up to the untrained eye but locating Parramatta again helped). The quarry and Prospect, finally some familiarity from the training area jaunts. What they blow stuff up in the quarry, I'll just deviate around that a little bit - great flight.
So I'll hopefully do that one more hour in the training area next week, then I think we're off to Warnervale - reminds me better not fall behind in that study!
Until next time...
Follow choppernut on his journey to CPL(H).
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