[in behalf of Anonymous user, originally posted on 21 Oct 2008]
It was my First ppl navigation test and i had just departed from Palmerston North's aerodrome and following the procedure to the east of bunnythorpe to navigate to Wanganui…. leveling of at 1500 ft and being 1 to the east of bunnythorpe i broadcast to Feilding traffic about my whereabouts and told them my intentions and all…. i did not get any reply whatsoever on any other aircraft in the vicinity and carried on with my track to wanganui. within seconds there was an aircraft approaching me at the same altitude and was totally oblivious of my presence and the worst part of it all was i was about to turn to my heading which was towards the aircraft and lucky for me my instructor took control and flew straight to avoid the on coming aircraft… that incident really made me have more situational awareness and not be fixated on things during flight…
[in behalf of Anonymous user, originally posted on 21 Oct 2008]
Departing to the north from Palmerston North is challenging as it is very easy to get into conflict with other aircraft joining and departing from Fielding aerodrome. Flights under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and departing to the north from Palmerston North will normally be given a Bunnythrope Departure, although very rarely a Manfield Departure might be given. It is important for every pilot to be familiar with the departure and arrival proceduress prior to departing out of or entering into an aerodrome.
Bunnythrope Departure procedure states that traffic are to track to the EAST of Bunnythrope Substation 1500ft and below. Therefore pilots on this departure can track slightly to the east of Bunnythrope, this will also help in clearing Fielding traffic and circuit. As a way of exercising good airmanship and to avoid conflicting traffic, pilots on Bunnythrope Departure should always track to Colyton, which is to the north of Bunnythrope, before commencing any turns onto your flight plan track. This avoids aircraft making any turns that will bring them too close to the fielding aerodrome. For example traffic going to Wanganui from Palmerston North involves a left turn after Bunnythrope, which will bring them over the Fielding aerodrome if the turn was to be commenced after clearing Bunnythrope. This is not desirable.
It is also advisable to include ‘Bunnythrope to Colyton’ into your flight plan, and start tracking to your destination from Colyton. This way, after clearing Palmerston North controlled airspace, a good and constant lookout can be maintained without worrying about turning onto your track, until you are well cleared of the Fielding traffic. As Fielding is a busy aerodrome, therefore it is crucial that a good lookout is to be maintained. After clearing Palmerston North airspace, leave all unnecessary procedures and concentrate on looking out and position calls on the radio. ‘Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’ can never be emphasised enough!
Aviate, Navigate, Communicate
Since you say he came out of no where within seconds, its possible he was looking out for you (part of AVIATING) as apposed to worrying about the less important navigating and communicating. Had he been looking out for you, reacted, and deviated then good on him for performing that first before handling the radio.
There is also a chance he did not hear you. Being a pilot myself, I no how difficult it can be to concentrate on the radio whilst flying and navigating or doing exersises. Especially if the person on the radio has a strong foreign accent and speaks quickly like a lot of foreigners do!
[In behalf of Anonymous user, originally posted on 20 Oct 2008]
I thought it would be a good idea to post on this site to allow others to learn from everyone’s mistakes.
First solo nav’s are daunting for any pilot, no matter their confidence, skill and knowledge. For my first solo nav I was to fly the reverse of what i had done with my instructor the week before. I wasn't really confident to do the flight due to my inexperience of flying through an uncontrolled training area which was really close to controlled airspace, as my instructor never took me to this training area. However I was falling behind in sorties so needed to do it, to keep up. I thought good pre flight planning could eliminate any issues I had.
I thought I was ready and feeling a bit more confident, so I thought I’d give it a go with a hazardous attitude of invulnerability. I Set heading and began flying my headings that i had pre planned on my flight plan. After about 30 minutes into the flight, having passed overhead what seemed to be my first couple reporting points i passed my third however this did not look anything like what i should be seeing on the map, and what looked like a town within controlled airspace. Panic, second guessing and disorientation set in and i began to worry, because of the pressure put on us by peers and instructors to avoid controlled airspace. So I began troubleshooting my DI and compass to make sure they were aligned, I then checked time against speed to check distance travelled and finally estimated a rough circular area in which I should be. From here I began reading from the ground to the map to see if I could decrease the area that I was looking in, nothing was matching up so I began to fly orbits over the closest town to try and determine my position, after a few minutes had passed I was convinced that I had found my location but due to the exertion and worry of the previous 15 minutes I decided to return home. On my return legs I figured out the position that I was originally worried about and that it was clear of controlled airspace.
On my return home I had made a few conclusions about the flight. These were
1. my pre flight planning could have been much better including marking distance points on the map, marking key features of the boundary of controlled airspace and to ask the required questions to the available instructors,
2. Being more aware of the hazardous attitudes of pilots and how they affect me,
3. Started to carry a lost procedure information sheet that details the steps required to help in finding your position if ever lost,
4. Keeping calm in this case is the key to a successful outcome,
5. And if I am uncertain of something I shouldn’t be afraid to ask instructors and peers to show me.
[In behalf of Sarah215, originally posted on 21 Oct 2008]
Hello from an ATC!
Please don't forget to use us if you get lost or uncertain of your position. We have radar in our towers, with coverage down to the ground in many areas.
If you have inadvertantly entered controlled airspace, or think you might have, dial up the frequency of the tower or CTA and ask us - yes, you might feel stupid; yes, there may be paperwork to do; but at the end of the day you'll have more people helping you out. You can guarantee that if you have entered controlled airspace then the ATCO is making a broadcast to find out who you are.
So don't forget to switch your transponder on to ALT and use the squawk code that matches your SAR plan.
Some of us even fly small planes as well, and we know just how daunting solo cross country trips are - I hate having to go through uncontrolled training areas simply because I'm not used to them! I much prefer control zones :)
[In behalf of onion41, originally posted on 21 Oct 2008]
This happened to me when I was doing my solo ppl nav. I think it was either my first or second solo nav. The weather that day was marginal but I knew that I would be able to make it to my destination and back if it were to stay that way. I took off at PM and was heading towards Napier via PO. Everything was going smoothly until my route from PO to NR. The weather enroute got worse and I could see lightning from a distance. Being taught not to proceed in this type of situation, I decided to divert to a nearby aerodrome (DV) and from there divert back to PM. At this point, everything started to go wrong. First off all, I was afraid that the dark clouds would encroach closer to my holding space. So in a hurry, I did a reciprocal heading and starting flying in that direction hoping to return back to PO. Half way back, I saw a ground feature and assumed that it was the one on my map and started changing my direction towards DV. I calculated my ETA and kept flying on that heading. Soon my ETA time came and I still could not see any aerodrome. At that point, I realized that I was lost. I tried to do a lost procedure but due to my inexperience and lack of prominent feature on the ground, I was not able to do so. I called Christchurch and told them that I was lost and required radar vectoring back to PM. They assisted me and soon I was on my way back.
When I reached the ground, I given a debrief by our Nav Guru.
This is what I learnt from this experience:
1. Weather is unpredictable.
2. You can’t do a reciprocal heading due to variation and wind.
3. Do not assume ground feature without confirming it with at least 3 other features.
4. Do not change your heading half way in your divertion.
5. Ask for assistance if you are unsure.
I was flying a solo Nav from Palmerston North to Ardmore in Auckland in the late afternoon/evening when I got a bit disorientated. I left Palmerston North quite late and with approval from the CFI I was allowed to fly past ECT as I was night current and I needed to get up on this particular day. I got airborne out of Palmy and got clearance through Ohakea Control to climb to 7500ft initially and when I had burned up some fuel and weight I asked for a climb up to 9500ft VFR at around Waiouru. I then proceeded past the mountain and started heading for Hamilton. I had dipped my wings past the mountain to get a good photo, but didnt quite remember what my heading was before I had dipped the wings (as this aircraft didnt have a heading bug). So I sorta guessed (as I didnt do a flight plan - no time and authorised by CFI) and kept flying. A little while later I noticed a big bank of cloud up ahead that would have made me descent below it, as it was a broken layer… I couldnt see much past the bank and really didnt want to descent as it would make my flight longer because of cruising at a lower level and it would mean I would lose my controlled VFR, and therefore not having to worry about airspace. I tried to pinpoint myself on my VNC, but couldnt as it was getting into low-light conditions and I was too high up. So I tried my next option, and as I had commenced IFR Sims, I tuned up the Hamilton NDB and VOR… I was perplexed by the result, the NDB was showing 30 degreed to my left, which initially I though was just an erroneous reading. I aligned the VOR radial (the one that takes you from Taumaruanui to Hamilton, and this also showed to the left. I was convinced that I was on track. So I did what I was taught in the initial IFR stage and trusted my instruments. Immediatley after I had completed my 30 degree turn, I realised that this 'picture' looked a lot better and I was now going to miss the edge of the clouds and remain in sight of the ground! Wohoo. Anyway I ended flying right over Hamilton and the rest of the flight went without a problem.
1) Always have a basic flightplan, even if it doesnt have winds on it
2) Remember your last heading before you make a temporary change
3) Confirm as often as possible you position and heading with the VNC
4) If all else fails, use Navaids (but only if you know how to use them)
5) Trust your instruments when you dont trust your VFR! But only when nothing else works.
6) Flying in low-light conditions makes it so much harder when flying high-altitude.
This occurred on my second nav, we got airborne out of palmy going to Wanganui via the powerlines. Took off from a Manfield departure which was all good. Being the second time flying a nav I was very inexperience, really it is the first actual nav since the first nav is all about map reading. My instructor was doing something so he was busy, so I was flying this heading and then when he looked up he took control and turned right quickly.
Turned out I was breaching Ohakea airspace. The heading I was reading was wrong, I read the heading of the next leg instead of the one I am supposed to.
When we landed my instructor had to make a phone call, turned out we actually did clip the airspace but then the guy on the phone said 'nothing a box of stella lager wont fix' <-joke.
Good thing it was a dual flight, the instructor I was with is not my primary instructor but he was very nice. I actually thought he will fail the flight (the entire nav didn't go too well)…but he passed me. Since the next flight was a solo it did say 'extensive briefing needed'. However by passing me I felt really commited to make my solo a good one, and with that I did heaps of homework for it. My first solo nav turned out to be very good and It definitely boosted my confidence.
Hi from ATC…
Great to hear that your solo nav turned out alright - interesting to note how much more prepared you end up being after a scare isn't it?
Now about that Stella…
As a legal requirement we do have to file airspace incident forms when an aircraft enters controlled airspace without a clearance. However you'll find that most controllers (especially tower ones who know the local operators) will also talk to your instructor, or if you're landing at an unfamiliar airfield, invite you up to the tower for a chat, or ask you to ring them. Please don't be too scared!
Mostly this is for us to understand why any mistakes were made - was it the phraseology, unfamiliarity with the airspace and aerodrome, nervousness etc. We'll probably then give you a pretty good brief on what to expect as a departure clearance so it's done correctly.
The really big benefit of this phone call or visit to the tower is that you get to ask us questions whilst it's still fresh in your mind - even go over maps with us and confirm tracks and boundaries. Also, it's much easier to change what you've done if you realise right away - otherwise the paperwork from the CAA comes through after a few weeks and you think "oh yeah…now why did I get confused then?" So you can get maximum learning value from the incident.
Also, if you're new to some airspace (as I had someone from WN coming into CH yesterday) just say so. "CH Tower, ABC 15 miles north, 2000ft request Southbrook Arrival, D 1009, first time to CH" and we'll keep a close eye on your tracking. Then you're more likely to get a friendly "Just need you to track more on a southerly heading" than "ABC you're about to enter the instrument sector. Turn right immediately!"
On my second to last solo PPL Nav I was told to go to Napier. Now I havn't been to Napier at all, infact I have not been to the east coast at all.
The weather did not look good anywhere else but was perfect on the east side. So I had to fly.
Everything was planned and I was signed out to fly. Most of the nav went ok. Airspace on the east coast is very easy, and towns are so separated its quite easy to identify them.
Coming towards Napier I was cleared for right hand downwind. This was somewhat unexpected because standard arrival would of been left hand. Coming towards Napier I had real trouble finding the runway. When I was studying the map on the ground I planned to fly nearer to the coast since the aerodrome is near the coast line. I was also told by fellow students by seeing the coast line I will spot the aerodrome. No doubt when I was flying I did just as I pre-planned. However, this would of worked out well if it was left hand downwind as I assumed. It didn't work out so well being a right hand.
By the time I saw the runway It was between 12 and 1 o'clock. I did manage to fly right hand downwind but the circuit spacing was very tight for obvious reasons. Everything after that was ok.
When I landed back in Palmy I found out Napier Tower phoned up Massey and told them about me. They said my flight path was pretty much against on comming traffic taking off.
No doubt the worst Nav ever. Had to file up a page 4.
With the experience now I would of done the following differently:
*When doing TOD check, instead of just reading the clearance (ie: 'right hand downwind RwyXX'), my brief would include how I am going to comply with the clearance given. Depending on aerodrome I will talk about the surrounding airspace steps as well as how I would map read/features I am looking for. Had I done that I would of picked up that I need to be quite far away from the coast.
*Request left hand downwind so I can do what I pre-planned
Hi from ATC…
Really good to see you commenting that with hindsight you could "request lefthand downwind so I can do what I pre-planned."
ATC don't purposely try to mess up your plans, but since we don't know yours, we do what suits the overall traffic picture. Your request might have meant you had to do an orbit or two to allow for other traffic to move around you, but if it means you'll end up in where you planned to be, then surely the orbits are worth it. However, if you are cleared (as in the above post) RH downwind and are unsure of where it is, don't commence an orbit without telling ATC - there could be someone close behind you, or someone heading right at you. If you are open and tell the tower "I'm having trouble seeing the runway" then we'll help you out. We'll either try to give you a heading or get you to sight another aircraft and follow them.
Whatever you do, please ask for clarification or help with finding the aerodrome well before you get to the circuit if you can, as having someone fly randomly through a busy circuit isn't good for our health - or yours!
During my PPL navigation training stage, I was on a solo flight to Hawera for a touch and go and back to Palmerston via Wanganui. It was a fine day with few clouds and light winds. Flying north, I was doing well; flying what i had planned and being on time. As I got closer to HA I started my top of descent checks; listening to AWIB, making my radio calls etc… I was expecting to see the airfield as I went through the checks and as my ETA indicated I should have been overhead at a certain time.
By this time I was more than a minute into my ETA for HA and looking out I could not see the airfield. I saw all the features, reading from map to ground, big to small, I could see every other feature except for the aerodrome. I started orbiting where I thought the airfield should have been, but mysteriously it wasnt there. I must have spent over 10 minutes orbiting and trying to find where the airfield could be but it wasnt in sight. There were no other aircrafts in the vicinity of the airfield which made it even harder for me to locate it. I was surprised, at the same time ashamed that despite being to that airfield before, I still could not find it. After a lot of effort and wasting a bit of time I decided to stop orbiting and vacated the area on my way back to Palmerston. Looking back at this event I still cannot believe that I wasnt able to find it.
One possible reason why I think I was not able to find the airfield is due to the grass runways at HA. The grass was so long that it blended in with the rest of the paddocks around the airfield making it harder to differentiate between runway and farm land. But despite this I still should have been able to spot the wind stocks and should have been able to locate the runways!
1- Be prepared and expect the unexpected when flying to new areas that are not well known to us
2- Google Earth is a very helpful tool which helps with the visual features and exact aerodrome locations in relation to other features such as rivers, buildings etc. After this incident I have always used google earth to 'fly' and visualise the flight path the day before my flight and I found it to be really helpful.
3- Make notes on hard-to-find aerodromes while flying in dual with an instructor so that it helps when you are solo. Draw diagrams or add notes on VNC to make it easier for you!
I was on a dual navigation excercise with my instructor, we were en-route to NP from AP, The frequency was 119.1 and lower limit of the airspace was 6500 FT OH. While flying at 3500 and having received no transmissions of other A/C within the vicinity of our flight, my instructor suddenly pointed out a helicopter on the right side of the A/C below us roughly at 3000 FT. I couldn't see the helicopter till it passed below me to the left side of the A/C.
I just feel that once A/Cs are not near the vicinities of aerodromes as in " in open territory" , using frequencies such as 119.1, they do not make any position reporting's at all which can make things very dangerous.
Although it is crucial to maintain a good lookout when flying under visual flight rules (VFR), making regular position broadcasts on the appropriate radio frequency are equally important. Regular radio broadcasts are to be made at least every thirty minutes. However, it is good airmanship to communicate as frequently as possible. Also, it is desirable to broadcast your intentions when changing heading and/ or altitude. A useful way to remember what calls should contain is to broadcast in the following sequence, ‘POSITION, ALTITUDE, INTENTIONS’. The information that needs to be contained in calls and its sequence will remain relatively the same every time, only the content requires modification to suit different scenarios. Also, regular updates with flight information service FIS COM should also be made. The call should also contain information as stated above. However, the call to flight information can also include ETA updates and amend SAR WATCH time if required. Especially when radio calls are the only way to let people know of your position outside controlled airspace, therefore keep the updates going!
This incident occurred on my first few solo navigation to Hawera Aerodrome. I was doing a standard overhead rejoin over Hawera and the wind given by the AWIB was VAR 5KTS. I had to orbit overhead the Aerodrome to figure out the wind direction visually. As I have concluded the wind direction and runway in used while orbiting, I became disorientated into which runway I was supposed to land at as I descended on the non traffic side of the circuit. When I was disorientated I also thought that there was a change in wind direction. I ended up landing on the opposite side of the correct runway with tail wind.
I realized that it is easy to get disorientated when doing a standard overhead rejoin at uncontrolled aerodrome with multiple runways intersecting each other. Having the aerodrome template in front of you while doing the standard overhead rejoin helps.
A rather embarasing event
I got myself lost on VN5 which was my second solo Nav. It had only been flying for about 15 min after getting airborn from Palmy. I was flying North - this was unfamilier territory for me. i went through the lost procedure, most of which didnt help. i was affraid to track to the coast, because i knew there was military airspace between me and the coast, so my last option was to call up radar. I called up OH control, told them my sqwuark code and my approximate position, and they replied that i was only a couple miles north of Kimbolton. I thanked them and carried on my flight.
About 5, 6 minutes later i got lost again, i couldnt understand how i could get lost so quick lol. I was scared to call up OH and tell them i was lost again. I didnt wont to become a liability to them. so i spent a good 10 min orbiting a place about 10nm south east of Taihape. The cloud was SCT and the base was about 3500-4000ft, i had found a sweet spot to do my lost procedure. There were three sets of power lines crosing a river. so i looked at my map to find a place that looked like that, to no luck. I thought i had somehow passed north of Taihape, so was looking at power lines north of Taihape. I keeped looking for clues to where i was, and then found that south of the river, the three power lines spread to form what looked like a single and a double set of power lines. I scanned the power lines on my map, and there it was, three sets of power lines joined just south of the river, this could not be anywhere else. i finally knew where i was!
There was no cloud to the north, and the cloud was clearing to the south. This made navigation easier. I climbed up to 5500ft and continued my flight with a brilliant view, of most of the middle north island.
Lesson learned: dont get lost hehe, use all resources.