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Airspace, navigation and zones

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Airspace, navigation and zones

Old 4th Mar 2022, 13:21
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Airspace, navigation and zones

Hi All,

I am in the process of getting my PPL in a Scandinavian country. I am now trying out some navigation tours and, one day I fly really well but the next not so much. We are required to use a physical paper flight map and not navigation. Is this the case in other countries and any recommendations? I find it difficult to spot tiny towns from that crammed map.

Another thing is that the airspace here is so regimented with control zones, etc. - it kind of takes the fun out of flying as you are constantly restricted in some way. I appreciate that there must be rules and order but it feels different from what I expected. Is it the same elsewhere to such an extent?

Any advice, personal experiences shared are much appreciated. Thank you and have a lovely weekend when you get to it!
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Old 4th Mar 2022, 14:40
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Welcome Flying Heels,

When I have flown in Europe, I have found the airspace to be "busy" compared to what I'm used to in Canada. That said I have always felt well treated by ATC, and given fairly direct VFR routings as often as seemed practical. Flying in Hong Kong is extremely cramped, with the warning that being shot at over Chinese territory, even while under Hong Kong ATC control, is a risk!

On the other hand, I've flown 40 hour, thousand mile plus cross country trips in Canada, which I could have entirely managed to fly without a radio at all. I would commonly fly 300 miles to visit friends and not use a comm or transponder at all. And when I have flown in Africa, I have found long uncontrolled stretches there, though I did not feel so comfortable about that.

If you fly to Norway or Sweden, you'll find the airspace much more free than mainland Europe.

Yes, use the paper map, it's the best way to learn. You should be less "looking for" tiny towns on the map, and more verifying that they are where you think they should be because of your good flight planning, and flight following
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Old 4th Mar 2022, 16:01
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Part of the art of navigation is learning a technique. As already said don't get bogged down looking for tiny towns, they are never the same shape on a map. The map shown on your electronic devise is only a paper map that has been digitised. Remember anything shown on the map was once on the ground wheras much that you see on the ground may never have been on a map. Fly the aeroplane and check your position about every 6 minutes, don't try and finger crawl. Preselect features that you will see and only use those to check position. Always use 3 features to verify a position, one can be time as your watch is the most accurate thing you have. Many people brought up with GPS want to fly the plane along a line on the screen, don't; always fly a heading and monitor your position. Does your instructor ever demonstrate how to navigate i.e. he shows you how to do it?
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Old 4th Mar 2022, 19:06
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I totally agree with the suggestion of not relying blindly on satellite navigation (called "GPS" by many, though GPS is only one satellite constellation among several, GPS was only the first) : if the nice little screen fails you may be utterly lost - as happened to me once, with near dramatic results.

Still, I am surprised that you should be disallowed to use satnav - is it a limitation from your flying school or club, or is it in national air law?

Myself flying in quite busy and complicated airspace, I can recommend to widen your horizon very gradually. Getting acquainted with visual reference points, especially those visible from far away, will sustain your confidence. And choose the best moments for your navigation flights: here in BE, most military airspace is inactive during weekends, making things a lot easier. OTOH, nice days in the weekend see so much recreational flying that some radio frequencies and their operators are overloaded.

Good luck!

Last edited by Jan Olieslagers; 7th Mar 2022 at 19:58.
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Old 7th Mar 2022, 19:43
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Devil

They make you use a map for a good reason. It teaches you what its like to be lost and it will help you appreciate GPS when you can use it.

Apart from that its pretty much just bad practice. You really should be taught how to use what you will actually use in the real world.

When you use a map you need to learn how to deal with being "temporarily unsure of position" quite often. You need to be used to spending a lot of time looking at the map trying to work out where you are.

Once you can use a GPS you will know where you are instantly it will be much safer. On the very occasional time that GPS fails, it hardly ever happens, you will find its easy to get help on the radio. Just like you had to when lost because you are using a map.

Some people don't like to use GPS, they are the ones who get lost and infringe airspace.

Other people will be along to claim a paper map is a great idea.
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Old 9th Mar 2022, 16:37
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Google Earth (not Google Maps) is a really good tool for practicing navigation; it's pretty easy to set up so that the view looks like the one from your cockpit at a given altitude, and then you can practice "flying" around the landscape and relating what you see out of the window (ie on the screen) to what's on your paper map. It's a really good way to get a feel for what features actually stand out, and if you don't get lost accidentally it's also very easy to simulate an "unsure of position" situation and practice sorting yourself out.

Once you're confident knowing your position on the paper map, airspace is relatively easy, especially if you've done your planning and know what airspace to expect.

Edit: Once you're confident with a paper map, as others have said, get a decent GPS-based moving map and learn to use that too; where I am there are several free options that you can run on your mobile phone. It's important to be able to navigate the traditional way, but using a moving map will significantly reduce your chances of infringing airspace. Maintain a constant awareness of where you actually are, so that you can move back to the paper map if your electronics fail.

Last edited by pasta; 9th Mar 2022 at 17:13.
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Old 9th Mar 2022, 19:53
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Flying Heels,

When you're reviewing paper charts, keep an eye for special notations. The mapmakers know that a nervous pilot will be searching the map trying to make sense of being a bit lost. Aviation charts often note ground features which are particularly visible in flight (in particular towers, for obvious reasons), and for common approach paths to controlled airspace may depict "reporting points" which are actually easily seen ground features.

If you are using a paper chart with good diligence, and are concerned that you're lost, wait no more than a few minutes (not ten) to inform ATC if you could be anywhere near their airspace. There's no harm in admitting being lost, if you do it early, before you blunder into their airspace, and send jets scattering. If you're shy to say "I'm lost" (and who wouldn't be) the phrases: "I'm not familiar with the area", or "I'm not certain of my location" have worked for me in the past, and yes, I have used them a number of times, I'm not proud, but I've only once been balled out be ATC. Okay... 'cause you asked, the story....

I was 15 years old, flying home north in the US, toward Canada, on a dark winter night with my buddy, who owned the plane (long before the days of GPS). We were navigating by a single VOR, and poorly at that. We were confirming (again poorly) our location by reference to lit cities ahead of us, and time. Unexpected headwinds, we were not as far along as we thought. We called ATC at our intended destination, and received a reply something like "The field is wide open, you're cleared to land". Well... That caused relaxation, where, in 20-20 hindsight, it should have caused us to be extra vigilant. So what did my buddy do? Land. 'Sounds logical? Dumb!!! On rollout, I happened to glance aft, to see a 737 had landed behind us, and was catching up fast! I yelled at my buddy to turn off, taxiway or not! He did, a 737 wingtip passed horribly close. We stopped, looked at the tower, and saw a red light. It just stayed pointed at us, for minutes. truck came minutes later, and the name of the airport written on the door was not the airport we had thought we were cleared to land at - but both airports had very similar runways. The driver motioned that we should follow him. Once parked, my buddy was handed a phone number. Inside he called, his composure deteriorated. Eventually, he handed the phone to me. A rather agitated ATC person asked me: "Howww old aarre ya sonnn?". "15". "Dyall understand that youuur in a lot of trouble?",'Yes sir... But sir, we had the transponder on Mode C and 1200 (VFR code) the whole flight, did you not see us coming in on your radar? We made a fifteen mile straight in approach....". :Give the phone back to the pilot". "Y'all are not continuing tonight, right....?". "No sir.". And that was the last we ever heard of the event.

So I learned, confirm your location. and continue to do so. If you loose the track while flying toward controlled airspace, tell ATC early, or turn away from controlled airspace while you figure it out. I've been lost a few times since, but never violated airspace, nor been "spoken to" or given a phone number to call. I told ATC, and always found them genuinely helpful. Okay, another story, it's a quiet evening...

I was flying by myself just after PPL. I was about 500 miles from home, close to the ocean, and I foolishly took off to continue, 'cause it was such a nice night. Yeah, for the first 80% of my route, then the ocean fog rolled in, but at night, It took me too long to figure this out. I was VFR above IMC, so Called ATC. A very cool and calm voice offered me a DF steer (again, long before GPS). I followed his instructions, counts to ten, steer xx, descent to xx, do I see runway lights yet? Eventually I did. I recall not knowing how far along the runway I was, so I literally called ATC to say I had the runway in sight, but was unsure how much remained ahead. "You've got lots of room, cleared to land". Okay, I did, no problem. I parked and went up to the tower to be sure I was not in trouble for just flying VFR in actual IMC. No, this wasn't central Canada. The senior controller told me that he was training a new controller. I sounded pretty calm on the radio, so a great opportunity for the senior guy to teach the new guy how to talk back a student pilot when they went below VMC while they were in the circuit. They couldn't send solo students to another VMC airport 50 miles away, they had to get them back. So I asked, when I had asked if I had enough runway to land, how they knew I did (observing that they did not have ATC radar at the tower). "That's easy, we open for the window, and listen for you to fly by! Whatever works in the maritimes!

That's enough for tonight, learn the paper maps first, like those of us who learned to fly before GPS, then supplement your map reading with GPS. Google Earth is a good learning tool as described. My helicopter instructor put me onto that.
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Old 9th Mar 2022, 21:14
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Flying heels
You will note Pilot DAR has kindly highlighted repeated problems with maps. All of which could have been easily prevented with a GPS. The chances are you already have something quite good enough, your phone.

Joking aside. PilotDAR has had multiple problems with navigating with a map. Some are pretty dash shocking! First not many people make so many bad mistakes. But times have moved on. We now have a fabulous tool that could have easily prevented each of those problems!

Learn from PilotDAR's errors. There is a saying "learn from others errors, you don't have time to make then all yourself."

In case your wondering. I learned to fly well before GPS was around. No I haven't made a habit of getting dangerously lost like some.



Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
Flying Heels,

When you're reviewing paper charts, keep an eye for special notations. The mapmakers know that a nervous pilot will be searching the map trying to make sense of being a bit lost. Aviation charts often note ground features which are particularly visible in flight (in particular towers, for obvious reasons), and for common approach paths to controlled airspace may depict "reporting points" which are actually easily seen ground features.

If you are using a paper chart with good diligence, and are concerned that you're lost, wait no more than a few minutes (not ten) to inform ATC if you could be anywhere near their airspace. There's no harm in admitting being lost, if you do it early, before you blunder into their airspace, and send jets scattering. If you're shy to say "I'm lost" (and who wouldn't be) the phrases: "I'm not familiar with the area", or "I'm not certain of my location" have worked for me in the past, and yes, I have used them a number of times, I'm not proud, but I've only once been balled out be ATC. Okay... 'cause you asked, the story....

I was 15 years old, flying home north in the US, toward Canada, on a dark winter night with my buddy, who owned the plane (long before the days of GPS). We were navigating by a single VOR, and poorly at that. We were confirming (again poorly) our location by reference to lit cities ahead of us, and time. Unexpected headwinds, we were not as far along as we thought. We called ATC at our intended destination, and received a reply something like "The field is wide open, you're cleared to land". Well... That caused relaxation, where, in 20-20 hindsight, it should have caused us to be extra vigilant. So what did my buddy do? Land. 'Sounds logical? Dumb!!! On rollout, I happened to glance aft, to see a 737 had landed behind us, and was catching up fast! I yelled at my buddy to turn off, taxiway or not! He did, a 737 wingtip passed horribly close. We stopped, looked at the tower, and saw a red light. It just stayed pointed at us, for minutes. truck came minutes later, and the name of the airport written on the door was not the airport we had thought we were cleared to land at - but both airports had very similar runways. The driver motioned that we should follow him. Once parked, my buddy was handed a phone number. Inside he called, his composure deteriorated. Eventually, he handed the phone to me. A rather agitated ATC person asked me: "Howww old aarre ya sonnn?". "15". "Dyall understand that youuur in a lot of trouble?",'Yes sir... But sir, we had the transponder on Mode C and 1200 (VFR code) the whole flight, did you not see us coming in on your radar? We made a fifteen mile straight in approach....". :Give the phone back to the pilot". "Y'all are not continuing tonight, right....?". "No sir.". And that was the last we ever heard of the event.

So I learned, confirm your location. and continue to do so. If you loose the track while flying toward controlled airspace, tell ATC early, or turn away from controlled airspace while you figure it out. I've been lost a few times since, but never violated airspace, nor been "spoken to" or given a phone number to call. I told ATC, and always found them genuinely helpful. Okay, another story, it's a quiet evening...

I was flying by myself just after PPL. I was about 500 miles from home, close to the ocean, and I foolishly took off to continue, 'cause it was such a nice night. Yeah, for the first 80% of my route, then the ocean fog rolled in, but at night, It took me too long to figure this out. I was VFR above IMC, so Called ATC. A very cool and calm voice offered me a DF steer (again, long before GPS). I followed his instructions, counts to ten, steer xx, descent to xx, do I see runway lights yet? Eventually I did. I recall not knowing how far along the runway I was, so I literally called ATC to say I had the runway in sight, but was unsure how much remained ahead. "You've got lots of room, cleared to land". Okay, I did, no problem. I parked and went up to the tower to be sure I was not in trouble for just flying VFR in actual IMC. No, this wasn't central Canada. The senior controller told me that he was training a new controller. I sounded pretty calm on the radio, so a great opportunity for the senior guy to teach the new guy how to talk back a student pilot when they went below VMC while they were in the circuit. They couldn't send solo students to another VMC airport 50 miles away, they had to get them back. So I asked, when I had asked if I had enough runway to land, how they knew I did (observing that they did not have ATC radar at the tower). "That's easy, we open for the window, and listen for you to fly by! Whatever works in the maritimes!

That's enough for tonight, learn the paper maps first, like those of us who learned to fly before GPS, then supplement your map reading with GPS. Google Earth is a good learning tool as described. My helicopter instructor put me onto that.
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Old 10th Mar 2022, 10:54
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Google Earth (not Google Maps) is a really good tool for practicing navigation;
Better than that it has a built in flight simulator. Click on "Tools" and look for "Enter flight simulator" then choose between F-16 or SR22.
You can start from present view or a specified location and then use the mouse and a few simple keyboard commands. You will need to right click the mouse to get control in flight.
I've used it many times for pre-flight visualisation but the F-16 in the Grand Canyon is fun!
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