Monday, 26 August 2013

Close encounters of the scary kind.

It is a big sky out there and usually its big enough for everyone out there, occasionally though traffic gets a little close for comfort.

I was solo out to the practice area, dutifully making my position calls and doing my best to decipher the radio calls going on around me. I was reasonably happy with what was going on around me. I knew that HZL was west of me but we’d negotiated our respective areas. There was a lot of chatter coming from the north, a few planes over Lake Simcoe, Meat bombs waaaaay to the north. I was content that I wasn’t in anyone’s way.
And then this happened.

The camera actually makes it look further away than it was! I had made a position call about a minute beforehand and genuinely don’t recall hearing from any other traffic in the area. I don’t even know if that other pilot ever saw me.
That was just a little too close for my liking. A couple of factors may have contributed to this, I hesitate to use the word but it was a, near miss. First of all I suspect that my lookout scan isn’t exactly even. I’m used to not being able to see so well around Bob, so possibly I rely on him to spot traffic on his side. That would explain the plane suddenly appearing from my right hand side.

The other issue is that the practice area has its own discrete frequency of 122.9 that we broadcast on. Most uncontrolled airspace is covered by a general frequency of 126.7. If you are unfamiliar with the area and don’t have the VTA chart, you can just blunder through oblivious to what’s going on around you. Ditto if you are on flight following (133.4).
I definitely should work on my lookout scan to ensure I’m looking in all directions equally. Maybe I should monitor 126.7 while I’m in the Claremont area. Maybe the other pilot was just being a dick and no amount of action on my part could have changed what happened. I dunno.

I do know that a couple of months ago that incident would have shaken me up to the very core. Now I’m confident enough to put it to the back of my mind while I concentrate on the flight in hand and then take the time to reflect on it at my leisure. It certainly hasn’t put my off flying at all. Just heightened my awareness of the other traffic and what I need to do about it.
Valuable lesson but it is a big sky out there after all.

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