Monday, 20 September 2010


Something new today – planning a flight (or a diversion) while actually flying the aircraft.  The instructor asked me to plan a flight from Redhill to Bough Beech reservoir – easy as it’s just 11 miles West of Redhill.  The idea was that once we got there he would then give me the next destination and leave it to me to work it out while actually flying the aircraft..

Well it’s a lovely sunny day with light winds and a few scattered clouds – a nice day for flying.  Took off from runway 26R at Redhill, turned through 180 degrees, climbed to 1500 ft and set course for Bough Beech Reservoir, a short flight only 10 minutes.   Once we got there the Instructor asked me to plot a course to Bewl Water reservoir which is near Lamberhurst in Kent.  Managed to work out the approximate direction, distance and time and allow for the wind.  Set course and arrived more or less over Bewl Water on time.  Not really that difficult as it’s a large area of water and clearly visible from quite a long way away.  Next I had to plot a course to “Old Hay” which is a disused airfield to the north of Bewl Water.  After getting there and turning through 360 degrees, Instructor asked me to work out a course for Detling, which is a few miles NNE of Maidstone.  This is harder as I can’t see it and the Instructor won’t let me use the Radio Navigation systems – I have to do it all by eye.  Still, estimated the course, distance and timing and the Instructor asked me to say when we had arrived.  Well I flew over the top of it, and was only 20 seconds out in my timing estimate.  Next was set a course for Tunbridge.  My estimate on the direction was not as good and I ended up over Paddock Wood so needed to make a correction to get to Tunbridge.  I’d made an error of approx 20 degrees in my estimate of direction.  Still, we got there as I could see I’d got it slightly wrong as we got closer.

Then it was back to Bough Beech and on to Redhill.  Did a reasonable landing and taxi back to the hanger.

Overall I felt it went reasonably OK.  Estimating angles and distance, correcting for wind drift and working out estimated time of arrival is easy sitting at a table.  In the air it’s harder as there are other things to do as well.  In an aircraft you can’t stop at the side of a road and have a look at a map.

Next time it’s another navigation exercise but I’ll see what the Instructor throws at me en-route.

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