Navigation not so lost

Well after last week I can say for the first time I was not really looking forward to this week’s lesson, in my previous post you may have picked up on my dejected feeling following my return flight from Fenland.


This week I decided to try and take control, first I followed the advice left by Katie on last week’s post (thanks Katie) and used Google maps to become more familiar with the landmarks surrounding Chatteris, paying particular attention to those that should be on my return. Next I emailed Mike to find out where we would be flying too and was given either Fenland or Boston via the previously used routes.

So I pre planned the routes and on the day I added the wind and drew out the triangles of velocities at home for both, which was good practice too.

I went to the airfield still feel a bit downbeat, this was picked up on by Mike who said I should be enjoying it! I explained that after last week I was concerned about my ability to navigate especially to find Chatteris and to know the status of the parachutists. One option that Mike put forward and I think I will pursue is to go for my restricted License first then as I have a share in a C42 I can fly around and get my confidence at a much lower cost before adding the Navigation to it.

Mike asked what I would like to do today and said with some trepidation cross country dual to Fenland. I said this mainly as I wanted to confront my demons and prove to myself I can do it, or not!

So we discussed the approach at Fenland and how we were going to leave Chatteris too and we then set off. We taxied out to runway 24 and held there as Katie and Pat were on the runway at the far end putting down so grass seed. After a short while they spotted us waiting and cleared the runway and we took off, we flew the circuit while climbing and left on the base leg setting course to Whittlesey Station which is only 8nm, after setting course and completing the plog with the times I could see the brickwork smokestacks in the distance and knew from my Google research this was whittlesey I could see.

Small red is the train station and the larger red where the smokestacks are in Whittlesey

As we got nearer I noticed the light coloured industrial units which again from Google I knew where just below and to the right of the station. I flew over the station and set course to Fenland, I was a little slow getting on course, but I knew from studying the map I needed to fly over the east side of Thorney and over the bypass and indeed I was which was both good and reassuring, just after going over Thorney bypass it would be time to make the call to request an overhead join at Fenland which I did and they gave me the runway in use, the circuit direction and the Altimeter setting. A few minutes before the estimated arrival time I spotted Fenland and I changed course to fly over the numbers on Runway 26 at 2,000ft and called to say so. We were overhead and descended dead side.  We joined down wind, on final I came in a little low so I added a bit more power so as to touchdown beyond the displaced threshold and I made a good landing.

This had all gone much better than last week! Time for a cup of tea and then the return and to see if I would spot Chatteris or not!

Again we took off and followed the circuit leaving on cross wind and setting course to Whittlesey, with the smoke stacks clearly visible and the heading set we few towards it again I could see the industrial units so knew where the station would be, this was also helped by an approaching train!

When overhead Mike took the controls and we talked about London Centre and he made a “Practice Fix” call to which they responded that we had a 2 line fix putting us overhead of Whittlesey! A very useful service and they have a leaflet which explains more here.

I had the controls again and we were flying towards the Airfield I soon spotted Chatteris town and the Forty foot Drain above it which was our guide to the 16 foot drain where we joined the circuit for 24. However at this point Mike said fly the circuit for 24 but we are going to land on 23! This had me a little worried as I have never landed on 23 and it seems a lot narrower, the reason for landing on 23 was to ensure I didn’t go over the new grass seed! For the second time today I made a good landing and I was happy with my performance and so was Mike! The only things of note picked up were to correct things sooner, both in setting headings and when I realise I’m a little low on the approach.

So a good day flying which I enjoyed, however I think I will still go for my restricted license first.

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