Since before the Wollongong nav had seen a 2 week break from the driver s seat, I thought a run out to Hoxton Park by myself would do the confidence some good and maybe take my mind off all the other stuff I had to deal with getting out and about. I'd picked a pretty good morning and had the aerodrome to myself and it felt good to just throw down some circuits trying to nail height, speed and co-ordination (and have some familiarity around) before I went up to Warnervale the next day with an instructor.
I'd looked at the VTC the night before, PCA for wx area, flicked through the Ersa and even had a crack at writing down the radio calls for the leg up and back. I can appreciate some quality time for preparation, it makes my task a little easier and helps me to have an idea before I rock up to the school. Hey even if I get it wrong (or I'm slightly off track sorry) I had a crack. If there's one thing I would emphasize to the other trainee's out there going through or just about to - PPPPP (sorry I borrowed this from one of my instructors - cheers - but it has stuck in my head) prior planning prevents poor performance. I'm sure there are other "P"'s you could put in / and / or replace, some of you are a very creative. Make sure you get the most out of your dollars in the seat. I'll get off my soap box now.
So we headed off to Parramatta, turned and tried to find Pennant Hills (being very aware of the close proximity to controlled airspace) and I couldn't see the strobe. After some coaxing it revealed itself to me and then on to Hornsby. I can pick the big railway shed up there and the rifle range fairly well, then up to Patonga. Now I've been up the lane of entry before so nothing ground breaking there (just got to keep your eyes very open) but after that - new. It was going okay but my instructor persisted in quizzing me on what would you do if... things like what if that light came on, you weren't sure of your position, how much can you put in each seat etc etc. This was great because it reinforced the need for me to know and read my flight manual as I knew some answers, was vague on others and some drew a blank. I was appreciative because some of these scenarios obviously could happen and I had to start to learn to deal with them (and hopefully by knowing more and more about the machine I fly it would add to the confidence level if they actually did). Back to the nav...
Gotta love big race courses just off the side of your track and the shore line of Brisbane Waters below. Still getting used to judging distances to objects though from up there (again I'm sure that comes from experience). Past Gosford and looking for Warnervale, okay I got it. I made something that very closely resembled a radio call and once over head, turn straight around and head back on a semi reciprocal heading and aim for Brooklyn Bridge. I turned picked a spot on the horizon, enter the log, checked the warning lights / T&P's etc, correct altitude and check for the next radio frequency. I think by the time I had done all these I was slightly off track and not going to where I was supposed to. I did pick this up early and thought I would turn, track over to pick up the normal heading again rather than trying to compensate and steer an overall different heading (I'll try that some other time) and the instructor left me alone for a while and let me realise the problem and make a correction. I guess it's all about timing as to when the instructor lets you go and then feels the need for either subtle hints and / or "rescuing". We'd made Brooklyn Bridge (only about a minute or 2 late due to my meandering) and headed down the lane towards Prospect. As long as I found strobes and didn't give the staff in the Richmond restricted area anything to worry about, getting back home wasn't too much of a problem.
A couple of days later it was almost the same flight but extended up to Maitland. Okay, so now we're going more than 50nm from departure so consideration for an alternate. Night before - look up the VTC, PCA, Ersa and AIP (I can only see this list getting longer) and have a think about the criteria for providing for an alternate. At least half of the flight plan looked familiar and added the extra bit on. The weather was on our side on the morning and no requirement for an alternate, but the wind was around to give me some grief. Off we go, similar up to Warnervale and then new up to Maitland. Our ground speed wasn't ground breaking and there was a point where you go through a gap in the range just south of Mulbring were I should've offered to get out and push. Once over that though to speed returned a bit but nearing Maitland it was a bit bumpy. We'd made our inbound call and descended towards joining the downwind leg, and what a leg! I'd started the checks, warning lights out.....harnesses / hatches and we'd reached the other set of piano keys (okay maybe not that quick but it felt quick). We had to follow a twin on base and once we'd turned on final we hit crawl status again. It always feels weird when your pointing the nose out to the side and the long slow approach to the other end of the runway seems to take forever. Had a nice little handful trying to maneuver the beast next to the refueling area in the prevailing wind and provided some guys working on an R44 next to a hangar and the people in the now stationery preceding twin something to watch. I'd just got it close enough for the earth wire to reach - phew. A splash of fuel, a visit to the aero club lavatory and back we headed.
The take off wasn't beautiful but I hadn't been up in wind like this for a while. At least we set a better ground speed on the way back. A reciprocal heading took us back to Warnervale and then to Brooklyn Bridge and down the lane to Prospect. Once heading back to Brooklyn I tried not to make the same mistake as I did in the previous nav (it was a bit better). When we did arrive back at Bankstown the instructor went inside while a shut the machine down and I watched the thermometer creep up to 40 and I was in the office attire - man I think I've found an easy way to drop a kilo or two.
I've been finding nav's good as it allows time for you to relate more to the instructor/s (in between coming to grips with finding your way and them keeping you on your toes). You can start to relate a bit more (talking about the past, what is happening now and what the future may hold) most of it gravitates to flying of course.
Next up Goulburn and the 4th exam.
Until next time...
Follow choppernut on his journey to CPL(H).
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