An anonymous forum to allow you to share those moments in flying that caused you concern. You can post without registering a username, registered users can log out to post
By Anon
So I'm new on the board but thought I'd kick things off with a confession. Not too bad a mistake but bad enough that I still squirm to think about the way I reacted.

Relatively newly passed PPL, but I'd already taken a few passengers up and was comfortable having pax on local flights round the area. One evening decided to take my neighbour for an evening flight up towards the Wash / Kings Lynn area.

So being new to a PPL, I'd only just started to get familiar with the joys of GPS and Sky Demon. (That's another subject but why they don't teach you how to use those things as part of the PPL course I just don't know...)

It seems that the default setting for Sky Demon when you plan a route is that it gives you warnings if your route infringes airspace but it _doesn't_ warn if your route goes through an AIAA (area of intense aerial activity). My route just nipped inside the Wash AIAA near Kings Lynn and I didn't notice it.

Lesson #1 - plan your route properly and _never_ assume there are no hazards just because a computer program gives you a green light

But that wasn't really the bit I'm embarrassed about. So we begin the flight, beautiful evening, all going well, and as we get closer to Kings Lynn Sky Demon puts that funny ring around the plane which warns you're near something you need to be aware of. I wasn't that familiar with SD at the time and didn't 100% know what it meant, but I was on track at the correct altitude so I figured it wasn't anything to worry about.

Then as we neared Kings Lynn Sky Demon tells me "entering AIAA" or something similar and flashes up a red warning that it might be 'active'. I'm ashamed to say:
- I couldn't remember what an AIAA was and, worse...
- Instead of reacting "This is worrying, I'll turn around, get out of it, and then assess what it was", my reaction was something along the lines of "I don't want to admit to my passenger that I don't know what's happening, so I'll just ignore it"

I'm incredibly ashamed of that reaction - just shows how the pressure not to look stupid makes you do stupid things. Looking back on it it's really clear that you just have to swallow your pride.

I'm now a year on from that and have never made such a mistake again, even when faced with a similar situation (e.g. aborting a flight with a passenger because I was slightly worried about an engine vibration during runups that turned out to be nothing) so I'm fairly sure I've learnt my lesson.... but I squirm just thinking about it.

Could have been so much worse. Of course, there's no legal obligation to obtain clearance to enter an AIAA but you'd obviously be mad not to call up the relevant station and ask for a service. There were apaches doing exercises in the Wash at the time :shock: :shock: ...
By Anon
Yeah it wasn't so much the situation itself that was the problem, it was more my reaction to it - I'd rather pretend it wasn't there so as not to look stupid in front of a passenger than try to troubleshoot it and admit that I didn't understand what my GPS was telling me.
By johnm
You've learned the important lesson, if you don't know take precautions or ask!

You can play with Skydemon and many other similar products on the ground, I recommend doing that. I agree that PPL courses should at least include an appreciation of tools like Skydemon.

However if you think that's bad wait until you start looking at the IR syllabus and how much of it is relevant and how much stuff you need to know that isn't in there!!!
By TopCat
First, fair play to you for admitting to the shame and facing up to the bad decision. If you still squirm when you remember it, then that's a good thing and will help keep you safe.

I can recall a few things that I still squirm a bit about, and they keep me safe. The first was on my first solo, and the most recent was just a few months ago. I might tell the stories at some point.

So we're none of us immune, no matter how much experience we have, and I bet you have a lot more of that, a year on.

My only comment about the incident you mention is that other than the bad decision, the real problem, as you alluded, was simply a failure to plan. SkyDemon had nothing to do with it - you'd have had a map, and you'd have learned to read it, and AIAAs are marked. So if you'd planned, you'd have seen it, and looked it up if you didn't know what it was.

I'm pretty old school I'm afraid, I got my licence in 1992, and hardly ever used a GPS (I borrowed a very old one with a B&W screen briefly, but hated it) until a friend gave me a SkyDemon subscription late last year. So, much as I absolutely love SkyDemon and find it an utter revelation, I'm deeply suspicious of the effect it will have on low hours pilots who progress to using it in nav mode, soon after getting their licence. Without a decent amount of experience of map reading, it will be difficult to fall back to old-style techniques when the tablet dies, near controlled airspace and when the workload goes up.

Still, :thumleft: to you.
By johnm
The key to the use of products like Skydemon is to learn in detail how they work on the ground before you fly.

Immediately after my PPL in 2002 I bought a Garmin Pilot 3. The reason was simple, I go to the channel islands a lot and there are few visual features between Portland and Alderney! Thereafter GPS was always my primary navigation source.

in 2005 my wife bought me the entire Bottlang VFR library for Europe. Then Skydemon appeared ......

I now have the entire European AIP loaded in my Ipad both IFR and VFR and the Bottlangs languish on a shelf and haven't been updated for years.

I don't buy charts much anymore and all my flights are planned and flown using a combination of Skydemon and GTN 650, whether IFR or VFR, though I use Autorouter to get an IFR plan through the Eurocontrol computer.

The one advantage of paper charts is for teaching and understanding the various items shown there so that you can ensure that the stuff you want is readily displayed or filtered on the screens and you know what you are expecting en route.