Saturday, 10 August 2013

My stomping grounds part 1

I’ve been promising for a while a post about the actual area I fly in. Let’s start with my home airport, I fly from CYTZ also known as Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, or “city” to its friends! City is a busy airport, nestled underneath the airspace of an even busier airport. Learning here has some distinct advantages and disadvantages.  

Advantage-wise, I’m learning at a busy place, if you can handle it here, you’re pretty good anywhere. I’m forced to fly good circuits, maintain strict limits and have excellent situational awareness. I get a lot of practice at non-standard stuff. My radio work has to be good as well, technically ATC can tell me to eff off out of their zone at any point. And yesterday I heard them do exactly that, one plane was trying to enter the zone with a dicey radio, ATC denied them as they couldn’t establish the two way communication reliably. I also heard them deny a takeoff clearance because the radio was only working intermittently. That conversation got a bit heated!
Disadvantage-wise, I’m learning in busy airspace! If you need it spelled out to you, view my YouTube “10 minutes at the hold short line” to see what this means. Follow this with the “15 minutes orbiting while trying to get a landing clearance” one and you definitely understand! As well as busy, the airspace is complicated; with many control zones in a stupidly small space.

In order to help you understand both the local geography and the local airspace, I’m putting together a series of posts to introduce you to the tools I use to navigate this crazy space.
Chart-wise there are two things I can use.

1.       A VFR Navigation Chart or VNC (acronym within an acronym!), this is a 1:500 000 scale Lambert Conformal Conic projection chart.  The Americans call them “sectionals”. They are good for general VFR flights.

2.       A VFR Terminal Area Chart or VTA. A 1:250 000 scale Transverse Mercator Projection. As well as being finer scale this also has more information on the actual airspace as well as geographical navigation features.

For the local area I fly around in I solely use a VTA chart, as my main concerns revolve around not ending up in someone else’s control zone, rather than really getting lost. As RTH has taken great pains to point out with a large geographical feature like Lake Ontario, it’s really difficult to get totally lost, but you may well bust someone’s zone trying to find your way back.
To end this intro post here is a picture of what my VTA looks like, semi folded. As you can see it holds a lot more info than merely geographical stuff.

Next time I’m going to zoom in on some areas and talk you through some key points


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