First PPL Navigation Exercise

Sherburn After Landing

Today marked my first PPL Navigation exercise from Sherburn. I have been learning to fly now for over two years and today was the first time I have actually flown to a destination outside of the normal Sherburn circuit. There is some out of circuit work involved before the navigation exercises begin but it’s mostly just at the training area, learning to cope with stalls and steep turns etc.

After that, much of the time is spent in the circuit doing 7 or 8 take-offs and landings per lesson, many of them solo. I do love the take-offs and landings but it is nice to be finally going somewhere other than round and round.

Some people start and finish the whole PPL course in a matter of weeks (some even less). But for me it has all been down to money (or lack of it) and of course the good old UK weather.

Last week instructor Jonathan and I had planned our route from Sherburn to Selby then to Bridlington, Brough back to Selby and then Sherburn to land. This morning I had to check the wind situation and update the flight plan and pilot’s log – PLOG – accordingly. It was very satisfying to finally be putting all the things learned in the exams into actual practise.

It was a beautiful day today. A bit hazy but lovely and warm and very little wind. We set off from runway 06 grass, which is another first for me and a very short runway compared to the big tarmacked 29 that we normally use. After departure we head to the village of Selby and begin the navigation from there. It involves flying certain headings, compensating for wind (if there is any), timing each leg and – RADIO! Well I passed the comms exam a few months ago but have never had to actually do the whole thing like this, all at once.

Sherburn After Landing
Sherburn After Landing

There is a lot to do that’s for sure. Whilst trying to maintain course and altitude, looking for landmarks etc. there are quite a number of calls and radio station changes which all seem to come at the same time. Listening and repeating back QNH and SQUAWK settings etc. Everything went as expected and to be honest everything went very smoothly but it was not easy that’s for sure.

I hope that this will turn out a lot like when I first started flying circuits. After the first one or two I used to think that there is no way I’ll be able to do this and relax, but shortly after, it becomes almost second nature. I’m looking forward to getting to that point with the navigation.

Anyway, we got to Bridlington, turned back to Brough, back to Selby and joined Sherburn’s very short right hand circuit to land on runway 06. It was great seeing Bridlington. Looking down and seeing people on the beach where I spent many a fond weekend when I was kid. Being up above it all and picking out landmarks really gives you a different perspective to the one you are used to (obviously I guess). Especially when you’re viewing places that you have visited many times on the ground. (although not recently).

Once again, I managed to get a GPS track using Motion X for iPhone and here it is below. You can see we head East to Brid’ and then turned back to Brough. You can even see the very tight overhead joining turn and the turns before final landing. It does look like I was on one side of the runway though which I definitely was not. Also it seems the speed increases to >350Kt near the end. So I guess there is a little inaccuracy there.

I passed the Flight Planning and Performance exam on Tuesday (thanks again to ground school from Barry and moral support from Julia at SAC – You guys rock!) I now have just one more written exam to pass – Aircraft General (hopefully next week) and then more navigation and the all important Solo Cross Country (major milestone). Followed by some flying revision and then the big one – The Skills Test.

Next week we’re flying to Hornsea and Driffield. Can’t wait! If you live on the route from Selby to Hornsea – look up at about 13:00 – if you see a small, white PA28 – give us a wave!

Thanks for reading.