Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Navigation & Simsbury Airport

The plan was to fly from Oxford to Simsbury's short strip last Satuday (the only lesson I've had so far since my last post). When I got to the airport, it was too windy to land at such a small airport, Chris said. Of course, someday I'd like to be able to land anywhere under any conditions, but I need to take things one step at a time right now.

So instead of flying to Simsbury and landing (per the flight plan I made), we flew until we saw the airport, then practiced diversions. That is, we practiced changing course and going to another airport while flying. The idea is, if you're going from Airport A to B, and on the way you can no longer land at B (covered in fog, problem on the runway, etc.), you may want to go to C. So, you need to decide which airport C is, if you can make it (fuel and weather) and how to get there -- all while flying the plane.

Really, it's not that hard: just look at your sectional (a map for flying), find where you're going, make sure you have fuel, and turn the airplane towards it.

We did that a few times, Chris kept said "uh oh, can't land at Simsbury. Divert to Meriden," then "Meriden had an airplane land on the runway with the gear up -- runway's closed. Divert to Grotton," followed by "Grotton has bad weather, divert to New Haven." This went on for a few minutes, but I got the hang of it quickly. The fact that the air was bumpy was by far the hardest part of the flight.

On the way back to Oxford I "lost my motor" (which happens a lot, since Chris has a tendency to pull out all the power and tell me "you lost your motor"). I picked a field, trimmed for 65 knots and slowly started to descend. We didn't even get very low, but I thought it was the best "lost your motor" I've done yet; I'm quite certain I could have landed without so much as denting the airplane.

Overall it was a very simple trip. The bumpy air caused me to have a very bad landing, and the fact that I haven't had one I'm happy with in a while is starting to annoy me. I'll have to get some practice in soon.

My next flight is tonight; we're planning on heading back to Simsbury. I called ATIS at noon, and there was no wind and no clouds. Here's to hoping I can land on a 2200' runway...

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