Saturday, 17 August 2013

Battle plans part 3

I’m reasonably happy with the first leg of our trip, getting out of Canada. I think I’m OK with the landing in the US side of it as well. Just got to remember the cardinal rules of dealing with any border crossing; don’t move unless you are told to, don’t speak until you are asked a question and only offer the information you are asked for.

After this though, it gets messy because we are out of the realm of my experience. It all started to look a bit messy once we pulled out the charts. US sectionals are different to Canadian VNCs. It took a while to get our heads round the different colours and markings used, as well as the sheer scale. I attempted to take a picture of the entire sectional. I couldn’t get it all in shot. I commented to RTH that “ this may be a sign that this is a BAD idea!”

 Zoomed in you can also see what prompted my initial comment of “ughh, it just looks like a lot of purple amoebas doing rude things to each other!”

The reason I’m a little nervous about the US legs (we are planning a couple of stops, the idea is that each leg is no more than about 2 hours, we are in no hurry) is that RTH is planning on using VOR beacons for navigation. Something of which I have ZERO experience. To the uninitiated VOR beacons are like radio lighthouses in the sky. They send out a revolving radio signal (two actually) that is picked up by equipment in your plane. Due to some clever geometry and math (which I do actually understand!) you can calculate what radial you are flying on (so in effect what your heading is) and if you are flying TO or AWAY from the beacon.  You don’t actually have to do the math, you fly the needle on the display.
RTH assures me that it is a simple method of flying a course. My limited knowledge and reading on the subject tells me that it would be very easy to be 180 degrees off course. RTH has planned a VOR nav refresher lesson with Bob before we go. I plan on sitting in the back and getting an idea of what is going on and what is going to be expected of me as designated “radio minion” on this flight.
My only sense of relief comes from the fact there are a lot of airfields in the US, chances are we can make it to one of them, even if it isn’t where we initially planned to be!

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