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Flight Log – Crisscrossing The Delaware

February 20th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Gaming

Today’s flight log is available here.

Saturday saw winds gusting upwards of 50mph, so there was no chance I was taking up a little Cessna in that, especially when trying to land at small rural fields. Today was forecasted to be better, but winds wouldn’t start dying down until later in the day and then towards night time snow/ice/rain would start moving in. So I had a window, one thankfully that was large enough to accommodate the amount of flying I wanted to do. The majority of travel was simple VOR to VOR hops to just make some extra trip time while aloft (that had me flying back and forth over the Delaware River/Bay), but for one leg I planned to use a new navigation technique – the DME Arc.

After topping off the tanks and departing Spitfire (7N7) I headed southeast over the Delaware River towards Delaware state. Since I was taking off from Spitfire under a Class B shelf, I had to take care to climb past 4000′ and also to stay outside of KILG’s Class D airspace until at least 2600′. So I set a comfortable cruise altitude of FL35 and climbed in a spiral west of 7N7 before heading out over KILG. From the DQO to the ENO VORs I flew a specific route (instead of just flying to the next VOR on whatever radial I want) so it would extend my trip leg to almost hit 60nm. I also forgot to take into account in distance planning that I would not actually be flying over these VORs as plotted on the chart. Since the angles to and from the navaid were so acute, I began to turn to my next fix 5-6nm out from the VOR so I could line up on my outbound radial without overflying it or have to bank harder than 45° since the air was bumpy and my Va speed is pretty low thanks to a light load. I had to do a slight crab into Stoe Creek Farm (7NJ2) but set her down with no problems and rolled out to the end of the runway before taxiing back for takeoff.

The next leg to Coombs (7NJ7) was even simpler, just one VOR to the next with no specific vector, and then a radial to follow off the second VOR to lead me to the airport. After overflying the field to check sock and clearance, I flew the pattern and came in just left of the runway on a farm field. I cut the throttle too early on  my approach and had to reach over to throttle back up, in doing so I let the yoke drift left. This was all within the final 300 feet or so. I came in pretty low over the trees, glad I didn’t scrape any branches on the way in – cause FSX has no tolerance at all – you touch a tree and you’re done. Besides the trees on approach this airport is wide open and so it was simple to taxi back and set up for takeoff to my next destination.

The trip from Coombs to Dave’s Aerodrome (7NJ9) was basically a repeat of the first leg, flying to DQO and then to ENO. I don’t know why I included a radial to follow off of DQO in my log – I could have picked up any radial I wanted when flying towards ENO. Same for the last leg. Well, whatever. Dave’s Aerodrome was the most challenging field of the bunch today. They were all at least 2000′ long so that was never an issue, in the case of Dave’s however the runway here was closely hedged in by trees on all sides. Luckily Runway 30 was almost perfectly inline with the wind so I didn’t have to deal with a crosswind component. I set her down gently right in the middle of the runway and rolled out without running into any trees along the way. Since I was so far ahead of time by now, I decided to shut her down and take a pee break, stretch and get some more drink, and catch up on feeds in my Google Reader. As I was doing this I could hear the wind blowing outside my cockpit – it was still upwards of around 10-12kts, way more than the forecasted 6-8 I was looking forward to.

After starting the engine back up and departing Dave’s, it was time for the challenging navigational aspect to this flight – flying the DME Arc. To prep myself for this, I read an article in Computer Pilot that explained the purpose of a DME arc and how to fly it properly. Mostly DME arcs are used for navigational approaches for airports, but they can also be used in general navigation as a nice means of circumventing obstacles in your path without having to take a longer direct route around. In this case, I wanted to arc around the Atlantic City Class C airspace. Flying up from the SIE VOR I chose to begin my arc at the 215° radial and end it at the 360° radial. When I passed the 90° radial I would begin my descent so that by the time I hit the 360° radial I could zip under the Class B shelf direct to Strawberry Fields (89NJ). The margin of error for DME arcs is +/- 2nm, so I set my arc at 12nm out from the 10nm-radius Class B area. Since my RMI gauge is partly hidden by my control yoke, I decided to go with the NAV2 OBI gauge since that was also closer to my DME equipment. So the technique was to establish the arc by turning off my track towards the ACY VOR at a 45° angle until I saw my speed in the DME register as near-zero. Then I centered the OBI and waited until the needle fully deflected, turned 20° and reset the OBI to full deflection in the opposite direction, and again waited for full opposing deflection, turned 20° and repeated the process.

I was doing a great job maintaining a +/- 0.5nm margin of error in the arc until I made my mistake. At 360° magnetic compass heading I turned on course to head for Strawberry Fields, but instead found myself heading straight for KACY since I had not yet completed my arc. I had forgot that the arc degree I am on is really the current VOR radial that I am aligned with, as indicated by my OBI needle, and has nothing to do with compass heading! So I simply held the turn until I was back to 12nm away from ACY and re-established my arc, although by now I had of course busted through a +/- 1.5nm error margin. This time I waited until my OBI setting was at 360° and the needle swung center before turning on my heading towards 89NJ, and I intercepted the airfield with no problem, flying over and then a pattern and landing with no issues.

Happy with the success of my DME arc, I took off and routed myself around KACY airspace in a more direct manner (radial towards a VOR for a specific distance) and then proceeded up the Jersey shoreline to Monmouth Executive (KBLM). I am still in the process of developing this airport and unfortunately could not get it finished up enough for this flight to be usable. So I overflew the field and headed for my alternate, Old Bridge (3N6). I didn’t feel like flying a pattern so I set up for the RNAV approach to Runway 24. No, I have no idea how to actually fly an RNAV approach but it at least gave me enough info to end up lined up with the runway far enough out for a normal approach. The sucky thing about Old Bridge is its runway has pretty poor alignment for most wind conditions around here, so it was almost a full crosswind component on landing – luckily by now the winds finally had died down to around 7-8kts

Aside from some light to moderate turbulance I had to deal with – especially the bumpiness that hit just as I was getting established in my arc – like I needed more things to think about! – the flight was smooth and without major issues besides the little arc snafu that spun me around in a small circle. There was, in the very beginning, a small issue where taxiing to the runway at Spitfire I crashed into a tree that was placed too close to the taxiway. Made a note to turn off collision for those trees hedging the taxiway for that airport and issue an update.

I might be able to sneak in one more flight before I fly for real (on an airliner) to California this weekend through next for work. We’ll see. At the very least I need to wrap up KBLM and release it.


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One Comment so far ↓

  • Flight Log – Diversion

    […] speed to the DME, which I kept as close to 0 as possible. I find this much simpler than the original method I learned, which is useful if you don’t have approach speed instrumentation […]

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