Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

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By Nero
#1783142
Evening all

I'm going to be moving onto navigation soon in my PPL and I want to be prepared to save precious time at the school during the pre flight brief (and not look a complete Wally)

I wondered if you knew of any good resources or specific videos explaining how to plan a good route from A to B

I often use skydemon to plot pretend routes but, here in the south east, the map is awash with restrictions and gliding and CAS. It's a bit bewildering to a student.

How do you folks get anywhere without constant weaving?

Thanks
Scott
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By VRB_20kt
#1783145
It’s undoubtedly easier to fly in long, straight lines in the north of England, but the challenge of navigation is part of the fun of flying.

What you’ll find is that your instructor tends to follow his/her pet routes around your area - particularly you will find yourself repeatedly passing the same ground features. These become ingrained and in your early solo career they become familiar friends. As you spread your wings you will develop your own set of important points - you may even load them into SD!!

You’re quite right to avoid gliding sites. Gliders are hard to spot and winch cables impossible to see though they will slice through a wing effortlessly.

Controlled airspace is another matter. Don’t be afraid of it but welcome it as another layer of safety. Of course you have to plan a route to avoid it but often enough transits is approved.

If you’re flying VFR try to pick really distinctive ground features as waypoints. For instance, villages look identical from the air but junctions of rivers, railways and roads tend to be distinctive.

As ever, talk to your instructor.
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By Charles Hunt
#1783148
Nero wrote:
I wondered if you knew of any good resources

Scott


Use SkyDemon (or equivalent).

With the complexity of air space, restricted areas, gliders, NOTAMs, and the penalties that can be imposed if you get it wrong, for anything other than a local bimble where you know the local area like the back of your hand you (I!!) need some electronic assistance in the cockpit.

In my view you need this even more in the early stages when you don't have a mental picture built up of what things look like from the air.

In general I'm a believer in following rules/not cheating, but if a student were to whip a phone running SkyDemon out of their pocket during their QXC I'd give them 10/10 for common sense.
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By johnm
#1783159
I would advise reading the classic books such as Trevor Thom and getting familiar with drawing lines on charts, calculating drift from wind forecasts and so forth.

A chart will give you an overall picture of a large area and help you understand how various bits of airspace fit together, the "big picture" if you like.

This will give you an idea of what Skydemon is doing in the background (albeit using slightly different maths) and help you make better use of it.
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By Rob P
#1783185
Right, now how to condense thirty-something years of navigation experience into a few words :scratch:

Firstly, I remember being in your shoes vividly. Staring at a huge, laminated chart covered in arcane symbols and areas and wondering how I would possibly cope. The answer is, you just do.

There is nothing sacrosanct about straight lines. Yes, they can be the fastest track between two points, but if you hate flying so much that you want it to be over quickly then you have maybe chosen the wrong hobby.

Training flights are generally at around 2,000ft as the instructor doesn't want to waste your time dragging an underpowered aircraft up to more sensible levels. Once qualified and the master of your own fate - higher is better. (Caveat: not into clouds or airways of course)

Once above 3,000 you can virtually ignore the GA airfields on the chart and for the purposes of travel just overfly them as if they didn't exist. This does not apply to gliding sites.

Most larger airfields have some airspace of their own. Marked Class D. You are welcome to fly through this airspace, but you do have to ask nicely first. Until you hear the magic words "Cleared to enter ... " you stay outside. This may entail an orbit or two whilst you wait for something to happen. And there's the issue. You will find some pilots who take Class D transits as a badge of worthiness and will scoff at anyone who doesn't fly straight through every Class D in their path.

However, if you are planning on a transit, you also have to plan what to do when it is refused for controller workload or some other reason. i.e. you route around it. The thing is, if you compare the flight time for straight across v going round the edge there is generally only a minute or two difference. And if you do end up with a couple of orbits before being cleared then that difference vanishes or reverses. That said, it's fun flying directly across a major airport once in a while, Stansted is my favourite.

Military airfield have their own surrounding zones (MATZ or CMATZ) which look like the zones around big airports, but are actually not Class D. You can fly through them with impunity, but that isn't great airmanship, so you will actually call them and ask for a MATZ penetration which they will happily grant, passing any useful traffic information at the same time. As always there are exceptions. Brize Norton has Class D.

For high entertainment value Lakenheath with their own, individual, mid-Atlantic interpretation of communications are to be recommended.

Don't overfly glider sites with winch launching. Not advised.

Pay attention to your vertical nav as well as the usual horizontal. UK airspace is a total bog-up, and little fillets of airspace droop down from above with depressing regularity. Conventional nav is a pain as the charts aren't simple to decipher, SkyDemon (other apps are available) makes this simple

We are urged to "Take Two". This means remaining away from controlled airspace by 2 miles or 200 ft (vertical). Best you do this for now.

Have I missed anything? You bet. Others will be along soon and hopefully will discuss Danger and Restricted areas.

Rob P
Last edited by Rob P on Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By Bill Haddow
#1783190
I wouldn't be too afraid of controlled airspace - right now transits will be pretty easy to get :D - but often transits easy enough, a phone call beforehand will give you a heads up on that. Some controlled / restricted airspace does not apply 24/7 - read the chart carefully.

Now navigate back to "Student Pilots" or get into discussions about car insurance, face masks, the BBC, bad jokes, and other nonsense :wink:

Bill H
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By AndyR
#1783261
There aren't many instructors and even fewer examiners who will allow you to use an electronic app/aid such as SD for primary nav during training.

By all means have one tucked into your bag in case of emergency, but then if you have been trained properly, you will know how to access D&D or a local radar unit if things have gone that badly. The idea is that should you suffer GPS failure when flying post PPL you will be able to get yourself out of the mire.

At the end of the day and most importantly, your PPL examiner will expect you to navigate using a chart and one or the other of the established methods.

Having said that, I am very much in favour of GPS usage being included in the PPL syllabus, but it would add ££ to the total cost of the course.
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By AndyR
#1783262
Nero wrote:Evening all

I'm going to be moving onto navigation soon in my PPL and I want to be prepared to save precious time at the school during the pre flight brief (and not look a complete Wally)

I wondered if you knew of any good resources or specific videos explaining how to plan a good route from A to B

I often use skydemon to plot pretend routes but, here in the south east, the map is awash with restrictions and gliding and CAS. It's a bit bewildering to a student.

How do you folks get anywhere without constant weaving?

Thanks
Scott


You should also receive a long brief prior to starting the navigation element. Things will then become a little clearer hopefully.

Oh, you are also better off plotting routes on your half mil IMHO. If you feel you could benefit from a chat sometime, do let me know (I believe you are in the SE).
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By Rob P
#1783269
AndyR wrote:
Oh, you are also better off plotting routes on your half mil IMHO. If you feel you could benefit from a chat sometime, do let me know (I believe you are in the SE).


Thanks Andy, I shall bear that in mind :thumleft:
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By AndyR
#1783271
Rob P wrote:
AndyR wrote:
Oh, you are also better off plotting routes on your half mil IMHO. If you feel you could benefit from a chat sometime, do let me know (I believe you are in the SE).


Thanks Andy, I shall bear that in mind :thumleft:


So long as you bring some of that local beer.... :thumright:
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By Nero
#1783399
Thank you so much for your lengthy replies. It's so important to students in my position, willing to soak up all your information like a sponge, to have so much knowledge in once place.

I like to be prepared so appreciate your insights so that I don't go into the lesson half-cocked. I know they will guide me through it all but I do want to save time (and money) where I can in the learning phase.

It's useful to know how you'd approach an A-to-B. Absolutely agree that a straight line is boring and defeats the point, unless you just want a flying car. Interesting to note the point about going 2 miles around (the 'take two') and can often be quicker than getting the clearance.

I plotted a route from Biggin to Cromer on SD (other apps are available :lol: ) just for fun and it is quite a nice gentle snaking route with a final, very clear N-S transit over Norwich which runs E-W; all made sense.

Then I did the same from Biggin to Clench Common and wow.. so much in the way! That's what prompted this thread as well as the impending navigation part of my PPL training.

The feeling of being completely lost besides Bewl Water half way along the route was a third reason for this thread. Unfortunately, I believe the school actively discourage their instructors using moving maps at all during training.

Thank you for the offer @AndyR . I am indeed in South East London training out of Biggin just down the road.

I had an offer for a chat and meet up from Mr Iceman a while back but then this pesky lockdown got in the way... :cry:
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By Rob P
#1783417
Nero wrote:I had an offer for a chat and meet up from Mr Iceman a while back but then this pesky lockdown got in the way...


Lucky escape some might say :lol:

Rob P
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By Rob P
#1783793
Nero wrote:
The feeling of being completely lost besides Bewl Water half way along the route was a third reason for this thread


I had similar difficulties in training. The issue was that I was looking for micro-features. Small towns, etc close to my planned track. It was a wonderful moment of illumination when my instructor exasperatedly pointed to a distant range of hills and said "There's the Malvern Hills, work it out from there". I had been looking too close to the aircraft.

That, of course, is another argument for flying higher. You get to see the bigger picture more easily.

Rob P
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By MattL
#1783812
AndyR wrote:There aren't many instructors and even fewer examiners who will allow you to use an electronic app/aid such as SD for primary nav during training.

By all means have one tucked into your bag in case of emergency, but then if you have been trained properly, you will know how to access D&D or a local radar unit if things have gone that badly. The idea is that should you suffer GPS failure when flying post PPL you will be able to get yourself out of the mire.

At the end of the day and most importantly, your PPL examiner will expect you to navigate using a chart and one or the other of the established methods.

Having said that, I am very much in favour of GPS usage being included in the PPL syllabus, but it would add ££ to the total cost of the course.


Schools should be well past that approach to be honest Andy. Along with many others we integrate Skydemon usage into planning and the cockpit work cycle from the beginning. Especially as it is a MAC safety aid with SkyEcho carried as well. Basic methods should be taught and need to be demonstrated on skills test, but that does not exclude moving map usage as well during training. It costs no extra at all and people pass closer to minimum hours.

I also think it is negligent to send students off solo in the south of the UK without moving map capability.
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