Sunday, 22 May 2011

Navigation, Diversions and Practice Forced Landings

Today was sunny but very windy – I had a land away planned from Redhill to Lydd but with the wind I was wondering if I would be able to fly at all.

Quick call to Cubair and as the wind was from the west and more or less straight down the runway, they were able to fly. Lydd was going to be a no-go as the wind was stronger there and had a significant crosswind component.

So off to Redhill and a briefing from the Instructor. Plan was that I would fly towards Lydd as planned and at some point the Instructor would get me to go somewhere else and I would have to plan it all from the cockpit while flying the aircraft. Sounds challenging – and it is.

So check out the aircraft, get ATC clearance and line up for take-off. Despite the wind, take off was reasonably smooth, then turn downwind and turn to depart over Godstone. A bit bumpy in the air but nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. At least the wind was fairly constant – it’s gusts which tend to bounce you around.

So on from Godstone to Bough Beech reservoir and once clear of Gatwick airspace, climb to 2300ft and set course for Lydd. I was tracking the planned course over the ground and noticed that Bewl water reservoir was on my left hand side – whereas it should have been on my right – so I had drifted a bit to my right. Basically due to the actual wind speed being a bit different than the forecast wind speed. So work out a correction to put me back on track and head for Lydd.

As we approached Tenterden, Instructor told me to take him to Faversham. First problem was working out exactly where I was (wind had me a little off course again) and then plan a route to Faversham. After a bit of fiddling around I got there, planned a route and set a heading for Faversham. When we were approaching Faversham Instructor asked me to “prove” I was actually at Faversham and not somewhere else. I pointed out the various towns which matched what was on the map but he still wanted proof. Next stage was to orbit (go round in a circle) and get a position fix from two VOR’s. This did indeed prove I was at Faversham and Instructor was happy that I had been able to confirm my position.

Next stage was to plan a route to Sevenoaks. A direct route would take me into Rochester ATZ so also had to plan a diversion around Rochester. I was also heading into wind so my speed over the ground was low so it took quite a while to cover distance. At one point I thought I was further on than I was but soon corrected it. Just past Maidstone, Instructor reached over and closed the throttle and said I just had an engine failure. So onto the emergency checks and find a field to land in. I soon found a suitable field but made a mistake of turning away from it. Due to the strong wind I was a bit further from the field than intended and would have only (possibly) just made it. Lesson learned here – take account of the wind when turning around and don’t turn your back on an emergency landing site.

So back up to 2300ft and then the Instructor “failed” the engine again. This time I kept the field in view and started a reasonable approach. Then I noticed there were electric power lines across the field but as there was nowhere else I could have landed I continued the approach and aimed to land before the pylons and effectively go between them. Instructor told me to continue the descent to the point where I would need to deploy the flaps for landing – he said to go ahead and set the flaps and I thought for a moment he was going to actually make me land – I was getting seriously close to the ground. Then almost at the last moment it was go-around and climb back up and set a course for Sevenoaks.

Found Sevenoaks easily then turned for Bough Beech, contact Redhill ATC and request joining instructions. Cleared for an overhead join at 1500ft, then an early right turn onto downwind and onto final approach. As the wind was strong it was blowing me away from the airfield I flew a curved approach rather than a rectangular one. Instructor commented I was flying a “Spitfire” approach and should remember I was actually flying a DA-20.

Still onto finals and even managed a reasonable landing. After taxiing back to the hanger and shutting down, Instructor asked me why I hadn’t contacted Farnborough Radar after I had left Redhill and had stayed on the Redhill frequency even though I was out of range. Basic reason was with everything going on I simply forgot. Fortunately contacting the Radar service is not mandatory – but it is good practice. Another lesson learned.

Still overall the Instructor was happy with my performance. My altitude and directional control was reasonable and I was able to correct for the wind. I managed the diversions (after a bit of effort) and the practice forced landings were just about OK. It was a busy flight with a lot to do and I had more or less coped with it. Just need to remember to contact the Radar service….

Vital Statistics : 11:15am to 12:45pm so 1hr 30mins flying time. Exercises 16 &18 with 2 diversions and 2 practice forced landings

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