One of the best lessons in the entire lesson program is the long cross country dual navigation flight. The destinations are Billund Airport (EKBI) which is an international airport in mid Jutland. Second destination is Sønderborg (EKSB) which is a small airport that operates a view domestic routes and some general aviation. On the route from Billund to Sønderborg is the military air force base Skrydstrup which requires clearance for crossing of the airspace.
I grew up on a farm with my family not far from Billund and my parents still live there, so I planned a route going north of Billund to get a nice view of my home town before approaching Billund Airport.
Video from the flight with my instructor Ivan (in Danish):
The video starts where we are overflying my home town just north of Billund Airport. We did a 360 degree turn and started the approach to Billund Airport. Next we depart towards Sønderborg and get clearance to climb into the TMA (controlled airspace) because the air was quite turbulent in low altitude. Finally approaching Sønderborg in a quite strong cross wind – so because of my lack of cross wind training, my instructor had to help a bit with that one. The next day I actually went out and had 13 cross wind landings just to catch up on that one.
I had prepared the flight the day in advance and created 3 separate flight plans, and sent 3 separate ATS (ICAO) flight plans. As said the first one going a little bit north for a sightseeing at my home town, and the other two flights more or less direct.
During the flight there was time to focus on things that I really never had time to do during the short school flights previously – e.g. leaning the mixture correctly and play with the GPS. Also this was my first flight climbing to flight levels – more precisely FL65 on our way crossing Storebælt from Zealand to Fyn and Jutland.
One of my friends is working as a pilot for Primera Air in Billund Airport flying the Boeing 737, and unfortunately he was flying at the time I would land in Billund, but I got another surprise when I called the tower for the initial taxi clearance in Roskilde; “Cleared for taxi to run-up runway 11 via A and B, information X 1027 is correct, and then I have a greeting from Nikolas from Primera Air wishing you a nice flight.” So my friend obviously called the tower is Roskilde when passing during the morning on his way to Copenhagen in his B737.
A brilliant day with a lot of things to learn and a lot of great impressions.
The 9th lesson was the first navigation flight training, which is something I have been looking very much forward to do. Navigation is one of the core subjects in the practical flight training and this is were one get to combine theory and practice and make it all together reach another level.
The first navigation flight was a one hour flight around Zealand and back home to Roskilde. For the flight briefing I had to prepare a flight plan, weight and balance calculations and a full weather and NOTAM report (NOTAMs is signeficant airspace notifications/alerts which can be anything from airglider activity to temporary airspace restrictions or broken lights on tall masts).
It is no secret that I love Excel, so of course I have designed an Excel spreadsheet which calculates all the speeds, headings, times etc. Very convenient! The idea with the flight plan is to calculate the courses/headings for the entire flight taking the wind into account and calculate the speed and thereby the timings for expected arrival at all reporting points of the flight. When having a good and detailed flight plan, it is very much easier to just follow it and fly the aircraft.
During the briefing there was a couple of modifications required (had forgotten alternative airport information and I was wrong on the minimum altitudes). So here is the updated and correct flight plan with the handwritten times from the actual flight:
(Click to open PDF)
The instructor also had a couple of comments on my weight and balance calculations. These calculations ensures that the aircraft weight and balance is within limits and that I have enough runway for take-off and landing. Here is the updated weight and balance calculations:
(Click to open PDF)
The flight was so much fun. There were some low hanging clouds this early morning, so we couldn’t go as heigh as planned – I completed the entire flight in 1200 feets, which is alright in the low terrain of Zealand. One of my friends had recorded the ATC from the internet from this flight – and you can listen to it here and hear me getting my clearences and reporting all the reporting points to the Copenhagen Traffic Information. I have cut it down and removed all other communication:
After landing at the debriefing I was of course excited to see how much I had actually deviated from my flight plan – both time wise and track wise. It could be better, but for a first timer I am actually quite happy with the result which you can see written in the ATO column in the flight plan and on this GPS map from my Garmin watch:
You might notice the loop in the track north of Roskilde – that was basically because I was a little too late getting my check lists completed before entering the control zone of Roskilde Airport, so the instructor advised be to do a loop to get a bit of extra time.
I have already decided what my favorite course is; navigation. It is rather simple math and geometry, and it is really getting close to what this is all about – flying!
Navigation course – the navigation instructor Ole is explaining the difference of magnetic heading, magnetic track and true track.
The training is getting to a point were we have been through everything – more or less – and it is time to practice on how to use the theory practically by planning a flight from one airport to another. Using weather data and aircraft specifications to calculate the correct course and heading. This is fun!
A panorama photo of the tables during the coffee break with all the maps and papers and tools used for the navigation course.
The hardest course is the metrology – there is just so much stuff to remember, and we are just touching the surface of the subject, so I often have the feeling that there is something I do not understand because it is related to something beyond what we are supposed to learn. When asking a question I have even got the reply that I shouldn’t think too much about how and why, but just remember it. But really it is true – it is really a balance to find the right level of abstraction. We can’t learn everything in 3 months.
Some of the more soft courses like human capabilities and limitations and aerodynamics are cool – and I don’t think anyone is really putting too much focus on these subjects. The subjects are pretty straight forward when reading the books, and the theory makes very much sense.
The engine and aircraft course seems to be easy for most of the guys, but just not to me. I have never touch an engine – I didn’t even know what a carburetor was until recently. Basically it is not a subject of very much interest to me, so I actually find a bit hard to follow the course because much of the talking and discussions became quite esoteric.
Finally the laws and regulations course was somehow straight forward as well even though there is quite a lot of stuff to remember. But a lot of the regulations are common sense.
Finally take a look at the group of PPL theory students in Roskilde Flyveklub fall 2014. Really cool guys all of them.