The transition to Jandakot Flight Centre (JFC) has meant my flight training has picked up in pace massively. Lets just say this the last few weeks have been pretty intense. With the challenges at work being at an all time high, its the limited weekend time that we’ve squeezed in three nav’s so far. I’ll covered each nav separately as they all have their own story (of course).
Sunday the 9th October was my first game of baseball for the season. It was also the day of my first Nav flight with JFC. Finishing our baseball game up (20-3), it was 100 mile an hour down to Jandakot to get the required pre-flight preparation completed. Being the first Nav at a new school and it also being 2 months since the last Nav flight, I was expecting to be rusty. … and rusty I was!
The signs of rust started from the minute I sat down with the flight planning form. It looked somewhat different from what I have been using, but you could tell that somebody has packed a lot of effort into it. It has the usual items, but the weight and balance, aircraft limits, aircraft/runway performance calcs and more. In the end it took an absolute age to complete the full form, do my maps and submit my flight plan.
Wilson didn’t say too much about my excessive flight planning time, just a subtle, “Far out, you’ll need to get faster at that”. It was the first of a long list of feedback for the day…
The next bit of feedback was, “You’ll need to get more familiar with the checklist for VH-VMH”. Again feedback that we were probably on the “too slow side as well”. In practice, the 20 year newer C172 has considerable more functions even though on the surface not much is different. On startup, the big 360 cubic inch fuel injected 4 banger is quite impressive. In V8 petrol head terms, that’s just shy of 6 litres!
Typically nav 3 is all about entering controlled airspace, using Nav aids, more non-controlled airport procedures and then a diversion. In addition, there is an element of instrument flying, stalls, practice forced landings (PFLs) and generally anything else your instructor throws at you. See, after this nav, it is typically the first solo nav and your instructor wants to be sure your going to come back.
Being signed out solo after this flight was always going to be a tall ask. I’d have probably needed to walk on water to give the new flight school and instructor the confidence to sign me out solo first up. It didn’t matter anyway. See, Wilson was actually the instructor who signed me out for my first ever solo at Air Australia. I remember the first check ride with him. It resulted in nearly two pages of notes and several more lessons to address them. This one was no different…
Today though, the notes were not about ballooning the landings or other early stage mistakes. The notes listed diversion procedures, too much head down time, getting directions right, 1 in 60 practice, faster flight planning, non-controlled aerodrome procedures, fuel logging, radio calls and more. The last few days of cramming the basic nav skills hadn’t been as successful as I’d thought. Nothing beats good old practical experience!
The flight route itself was as follows:
Jandakot (YPJT) -> Armadale (ARE) -> Victor 66 (Canning Dam (CDM), Helena Reservoir (HRR), The Lakes (TLKS)) -> Clackline (CKL) -> Cunderdin (YCUN) -> Corrigin (YCIG) -> Beverly (YBEV) -> Serpentine (YSEP) -> Jandakot.
In practice though we diverted from Cunderdin to Beverly and then Beverly to Jandakot via Six South. The flight went something like this…
With the controlled airspace requirements, we had to radio to Perth Centre Delivery while on the ground at Jandakot and request an allocated squalk code. This was all good and we put it into the transponder before take-off. After that we took off on runway 12 and headed straight to Armadale. At first I was slightly confused as to where I was flying, because Armadale looks quite spreadout. With that resolved, it was nothing unusual.
Towards Armadale we commenced our climb out. Our target was 3500 feet. It was at this point Wilson introduced the FMQDC check. Frequency, Mixture, QNH, Direction and Compass (aligned). He said these are the quick first things to get sorted, then the rest of the CLEAROFFs are easy when the time comes. In practice the FMQDC is pretty good and setups you up well.
On climb from Armadale, you can clearly see Mount Dale in the distance. We headed in that general direction and knew we’d easily find Canning Dam, the start of our Victor 66 route. Perth Centre handed us off to Perth Departures and we received our Victor 66 clearance. Turning on track at Canning Dam, we flew towards Helena Reservoir. It was at this point I knew there was something wrong with the headings I’d written down. Off to my right about 16 degrees was my next waypoint. Wilson spotted it too. He quickly worked out that I’d done my wind corrections back to front…
That is a rather bad mistake. At least knowing the mistake meant that I could correct my flight tracks. From Helena Reservoir the next way point was “The Lakes”. The corrected tracks were spot on. On approach to the end of our Victor 66 route, Perth Departures warned us of an oncoming aircraft. We were both at our correct altitudes and he passed safely below us. From here it was on to the Clackline NDB (Non-directional Beacon) We spotted the towers in a paddock and then turned towards Cunderdin. The flight to Cunderdin is simple as you literally follow the highway.
At Cunderdin we were met with several other aircraft doing IFR flights and a handful of gliders. We joined the circuit and did a few touch and go’s. These were my first landings with Wilson since he helped me sort my ballooned landings out 6 months earlier. He commented that they were very much like his. I took that as a compliment given I’ve heard him talk them up before 😉
On leaving Cunderdin Wilson called a diversion to Beverly. Having done only one two months earlier, my revision hadn’t been so good. The mental blank kicked in. I got my heading approximated to Beverly and turned that way. However my altitude and distance calcs were a little on the “very disorganized side of things”. Wilson let me go without saying anything. It became very obvious that I was well off track and re-calced using my protractor. Covering good ground, I was missing nav points quickly.
To top it off, I could clearly see a big hill to my right, but was struggling to find it on the map. In the end I got it. The realisation was that I had now covered 15 miles and was about 5 miles off track. My 1 in 60 meant a big left turn of 40 degrees to hit Beverly. Within a few minutes of the 40 degree direction adjustment, Beverly came into sight directly off our nose. Phew!
From Beverly it was directly back to Jandakot. The flight was ok but the feedback was extensive. It meant that I’d have a big week of revision to give Wilson the confidence to let me go solo after the next flight. Overall I was impressed with the aircraft. It is really well appointed, the avionics are great and it flies beautifully. Wilson was good too and the feedback was really constructive. I knew if I got all that nailed, the next flight would be much better than this and it was…