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Should I Be Flying

Old 8th Apr 2009, 00:04
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Should I Be Flying


I have passed my PPL nearly a year ago and I am studying for my ATPL I am flying once every 7 odd weeks but I am finding navigating more difficult every time I go flying. I hate to admit this but I am worried some day I am going to go off and get lost, I also carry passengers.

When Iím flying some times I feel that I donít really know what Iím doing, I donít know where I am all the time, for instants when I started navigation in my ppl when I started to improve but not quite up to solo standard eg getting to my way points but not really knowing where I am most of the time along the route or anticipating what to expect a head.

Some times itís like I just put my heading write down my ETA and hope my waypoint appears in front of me. I obviously didnít have this problem when I was flying regularly with my instructor but I cant afford to fly that much now because I am going commercial. I canít admit something like this to my instructor.

What I am looking for is advice on how to navigate when there are not good land features along the route. How do you know weather your on track or not, How do you know weather the wind is drifting you off your intended track.

Advice will be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by VDF999; 8th Apr 2009 at 00:24.
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 04:17
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I think you should talk to your intructor and tell him all this. You should
fly more regularly also.
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 05:12
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The deep issue here is the quote "I can't admit something like this to my instructor".

Why not? The instructor's role is not to berate you for what you don't know, it's to help you become a professional, confident CPL. Pax won't want to fly with you if they sense you aren't sure what you're doing. I know that!

My suggestion, vary your instructor if intimidated, or just sit down for a beer after a day's training and have an honest chat. If they were any good, they would offer a change in training methods, and some specific Nav practice to bring your confidence flooding back.

I found Night VFR navex really sharpened my Day Nav skills. Maybe start giving that a try now...

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Old 8th Apr 2009, 06:45
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My 2p worth....

1/ Stop carrying passengers right now
2/ Own up to your instructor. Admitting your 'little problem' to him/her will be less embarrassing than when the CAA come knocking at your door asking why you've infringed some busy Class A airspace or whatever. As others have suggested, if you've got a problem with, or do not want to admit to your current instructor, try another one.... there are plenty out there !
3/ As others have suggested, once you've had a refresher with an instructor, you should try to fly more often. If flying more often isn't an option for whatever reason, then you should consider scheduling regular refreshers (monthly, quarterly, whatever ... the frequency is a matter for you and your instructor to debate) so that your confidence levels are kept high and your skills up to date rather than go rusty.

Happy flying !
mixture is offline  
Old 8th Apr 2009, 07:19
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Start being a passenger....

Find yourself a flying buddy.

Someone who can fly and navigate (and who you get on with) and navigate with them while they're flying. I'm not saying get them to teach you...but someone else holding the pole while you're looking at what's going past the window is a great way to relax and 'see what your map is actually telling you'. If you can't already do this with your instructor.

Go back to basics....with short routes to places that are obvious. Do the planning and fly the leg to the plan, watching for the first sign of the plan not being quite right then adjusting the plan to the live winds.

Spilt one long leg into 3 or 4 short ones with regular timing and check features. Study what you're expecting to see as you leave each checkpoint and do your GE check to make sure you're starting from the right place and heading in the right direction.

If you have a 'featureless' route (long periods of the same forest or desert) then find a feature and plan to fly to that even if it's slightly off your direct route. Hold your heading and speed as accurately as possible, with regular 'FREDA' checks. If you can, get as high as the airspace allows - a much better view of the whole picture and less detail to distract.

Until you're comfortable with the basics again, I would recommend against rushing out and buying a GPS - even though the temptation will be strong to have confirmation from the satelite gods as to where you are. Once you're comfortable with the basics again then think about 'grabbing a Garmin' to reinforce the visual.

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Old 8th Apr 2009, 10:01
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my two cents.

First of all, you must tell your FI.
Scnd some advices.
a) Plan your flight with dedication, get a aeronautical chart where you can mesure the headings and the distances, and also get a good chart for visusal navigation, with all the small villages, heights, rivers, railway track represented, and drawn the planning along this chart.
b) Take the latest weather report and extract the wind in the altitude or FL you are going to fly, calculate drift angle with that. And note down in the chart, the wind vector , the true heading and the calculated heading with the know wind.
c) point firstly with the true heading (the heading extracted of the aeronautical chart +/- deviation) a take a big reference far from you, then fly the calculated heading true heading +/- drift angle. And pay attention if you are flying the track that you already drawed in the navigation map.
d) A good thing to do is split all the legs in 2 or 3 minuts sectors and drawn a mark each 2 or 3 minuts. And when you are flying check each mark and make sure you are in the correct track, think in 2 or 3 minuts the difference betwen the desired track and the actual track will be small enough.
e) Google earth could be a good help, check all the points in the google earth the day before the flight, and notice the trickiest things, the shape of the village, roads crossing, etc.

Have a nice flight
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 11:10
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This sounds like a 'confidence' issue to me.

Your nav is prolly no worse than the next guys.

Do your prep and planning properly and thoroughly and your nav will mostly work out ok. If you seem to be off by a bit now and then, try to think what trend is starting to show...early at a waypoint? or late.
Off track left or right?

Nav is one of these things that the more you do the less you need to sweat it.

Relax. Fly more if you can. Share your worries widely and shamelessly!

Old 8th Apr 2009, 22:18
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Agree with a lot already said ref discussing with an instructor.I'll bet he/she has had a little crisis of confidence at some time.
If you plan meticulously,concentrate on your timings/headings then it will work.I am always filled with a little wonderment when the waypoints come up on time but it is a tried and trusted system.
Once you have calced your g/s,put 6 minute (1/10 of an hour) marks on you chart lines as it is easy to do the mental maths i.e.g/s 90knots put marks 9nm apart and mark them 6/12/18/24 etc.
Try to get a mental picture of your route i.e. first leg is roughly south,2nd leg sort of southwest etc to ensure you have not made a gross error.
If you have VOR/DME make sure you know how to operate it-all a/c I have flown always seem to have slightly different panel.You don't want to figuring out which is NAV1 or NAV2 whilst in flight as this will put extra pressure on you and distract you from holding your headings.

Good luck
modelman is offline  
Old 9th Apr 2009, 06:42
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Two handy things that helped me sort out my DR navigation were
- having a ruler that had timings for different groundspeeds - like this (but you can make your own)
- drawing a "wind star" to help with diversions - draw the 8 cardinal points in a star and mark the correction for drift if you want to fly that trick (i.e. +/- x degrees) and the groundspeed you'd have.

Than as mentioned break your legs up into 1/2s or even 1/4s and plog each leg separately. Draw on a 10 degree drift line. At each point see if you're off track and then you can double the track error to regain track in the same distance (if you're at the 1/4 way point and double the error, then you'll regain at the 1/2 way point).

Unfortunately you're not in the UK as there is a handy booklet going around from the Royal Institute of Navigation - many flying schools will probably have a copy.
JonathanB is offline  
Old 9th Apr 2009, 09:20
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From my experience being taught nav in the US I think its probably due to not being taught it completely in the first place. My navigation was taught with a complete emphasis on knowing the freeway system in Florida for navigation and forced landings.

The brits are anal retentive in the extreme with the old stopwatch drift line and all the other good stuff. But it does work.

If you do a search on the user name BEagle he has posted some extremely well written and practical posts on the subject of Navigation.

Nav is a combination of preplanning and getting yourself into some habits which you need to keep current. I would be pants these days at VFR nav without all the IFR kit to back me up.

Personally I would go and find some old hairy who has been flying since Wilbur and ask him to teach you the old way of doing it. You will learn a heap more about being a pilot as well as sorting your Nav out.

Being a pilot is just a series of habits you get into, most of them take time to bed in but after that they become subconscious and as they do the work load drops off. Just as you get happy with VFR you start instrument flying and the work load goes through the roof again. After getting your head round that the odd trip VFR is a pleasure and the workload seems to be very little.
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Old 9th Apr 2009, 12:08
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Split your legs (nav sections not biological appendages) into 'event periods'
First period, setting course, noting ATA/ETA lokking for gross error.
Intermediate period: concentrate on height, heading, lookout, FREDA and Comp/DI sync. This period ends two minutes before fix eta.
Next event is two minutes before fix eta where you start looking for fix ground to map. Find fix, adjust track if necessary and Eta for dest. Then the work cycle starts again.
Do not feature crawl and ignore the demon that is lurking airborne to convince student pilots that they are completely lost and actually flying in Azerbaijan.
The waypoints will appear. trust that. Good luck.
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