Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Necessity is the mother of invention (part one)

This post got me thinking about my own kneeboard. For those of you unfamiliar with such a beast, it looks basically like this, with a Velcro strap that goes around your thigh.

When you sit down it forms a workable surface on which to do your en route stuff.

And here’s the confession. I hate mine and I will do anything to avoid using it.

It might be a necessary evil as you don’t exactly have much space to work but I’ve never, ever gotten on with mine.

I think the combination of short legs and chunky thighs means that it either sits so high up that it interferes with the free movement of the yoke or it gradually slips down my leg until I’m pulling it above my knee.

Obviously at one time I had every intention of using it effectively, as I’ve just looked and it is chock full of useful stuff. Let us go from left to right

Left pocket includes:

VNC – I’ve just realised that this is my chopped down version I used on my cross country. I really should replace it with a full version.

Spare checklist – occasionally the one in the plane is missing* or the wrong one. This one has been labelled with my name so that I don’t leave it behind.

E6b – the flight computer that you see illustrated in the knee board above. Mine isn’t metal and isn’t threaded through neatly either.

Middle section:

Clipboard – this has some info pre-printed on it. Some useful, some not so much. Amongst the useful info includes light gun signals for comms failure as well as conversion factors from various time zones to UTC. Less useful is the phonetic alphabet (seriously you really should know this people!) and VFR cruising altitudes (again, you really should know those!)

Paper/index card – depending on what I’ve got handy. This is where I scribble the Time up, time down, Hobbs start and Hobbs finish times I need to be billed for the flight as well as the ATIS info at various points. Actually I don’t tend to need to write down the ATIS anymore. Alt setting gets set as they tell me, wind direction is marked by the heading bug, but it helps to scrawl down the identifier as you look really stupid when you tell ATC that you’ve gotten information Echo when they are still on Delta.

VTA – this used to sit on the clip part of the board, it doesn’t anymore. More about that later

London Radio frequencies – the list of various frequencies that London Radio ( my nearest FSS) can be reached on. This can be used to give VFR position reports, ask for weather updates or scream for help if I’m seriously lost or otherwise in the sh!t. My clipboard sits behind this in such a way that the useless info on the bottom of the board is covered but the frequencies are visible.

Right hand section:

Emergency procedure checklist – obviously the time critical ones have to be memorised. For things like engine failure and various fire situations, you don’t have time to be faffing around with bits of paper. But other situations give you a bit more time. Again you should have the time critical stuff down pat but scenarios such as loss of oil pressure and avionics failure give you a little time to work through the problem.  

C172R and C172S Key performance data – To be truthful I’d forgotten I’d got this. It has various useful bits of info on it for both models of planes such as Max takeoff weight, useable fuel and important reference speeds. Vr, Vr(10 degrees flap), Vx, Vy, Va for various weights, Vs and Vso to name a few. Bob has helpfully highlighted the ones I need to memorise. I really should get onto that!

Flight reference card – as illustrated below. For my cross country flight I did one of these for each leg. It lists all the frequencies, in the order I’ll need them. As well as telling me what the frequency is (tower, ground etc.) Also any notes about what I might need to say to them. The top part is an airport diagram showing what the runway configuration will look like as seen from the direction I’ll be approaching as well as the airport elevation and circuit height.

So that’s all the stuff I carry and allegedly the knee board is the vessel for utilising it effectively. Although I will admit that I did wear the board for the majority of my cross country flights, next post I’ll admit to you where things usually live in the cockpit when I’m flying.

*confession time again. I used to accidentally walk off with the checklist from the plane. It wasn't deliberate it just used to get caught up with my things until one day I realised that I had 5 of the damn things. I've been subtly sneaking them back in the plane until I just had the one left. 

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