I've got a lot of sympathy for the student on this one. I could easily have bolloxed it up exactly like that in my early days of nav.
It must have been howling quite a gale for it to be "much stronger than expected", if expected was 270/20. He'd have been quite uncomfortable, I expect, being bounced around in that, which would have made a huge difference to the workload.
Without GPS, and in a strong wind, the margin of error flying down the gap there is quite small. And looking at the route quite carefully, there's quite a lot of scope for the confirmation bias the report speaks of.
That was my biggest problem when I was learning to navigate - making the ground fit where you'd like to be on the map is often remarkably easy, and I got quite a few massive bollockings from my instructor along the way for doing exactly that.
I was lucky not to make any bad similar mistakes on my own, but I easily could have until I really 'got it', and finished beating that particular tendency out of myself by rigorous application to landmark identification, and then confirmation, checking and double checking.
If I'd turned right at Stanford Reservoir instead of Pitsford, as I might easily have done at that stage if I was tense and feeling a bit sick as I often did in those early days, I can imagine my instructor saying "did you not notice that the enormous town of Northampton wasn't there?".
And I would have felt, quite rightly, like the plonker I would have been, and resolved to do better.
Utter negligence on the part of the training organisation in sending the the hapless student off without moving map
....sorry, that's a massive overstatement. How did any of us learn to fly in the last few decades if it was as difficult as all that?
He'd just flown the route three weeks earlier, so assuming he did that ok, it wasn't unreasonable for his instructor to send him that way again.
Even without a GPS, assuming he had a VOR in the aircraft, he should have noticed that DTY was right where you'd want it if you need a bit of help with the route. I always stuck the VOR on back in the day - indeed I was expected to use the navaids available as backup.
This is a classic example of a big cock-up, for a variety of very understandable reasons, from which he'll hopefully learn a lot, and I very much hope the 'just culture' really is just, and that he won't suffer any ill effects from the mistake.
It was his fault, he should learn from it, and he probably will, unless some eejit let's him off the hook and encourages him to play the 'let's see who else we can blame' game that seems so prevalent these days.
Edited to correct reference to Stanford Reservoir ironically misidentified as Blithfield by failing to read the report properly.