Some solo IMC practice

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…with a safety pilot of course!

After Saturday’s full day landaway, today’s Bank Holiday Monday flight was intended to be a shorter local flight focussed on IMC practice. I didn’t want to have a full lesson with an instructor so instead had arranged to make a local flight with another club member (Dave). He would act as  safety pilot on our flight from Kemble.

Kemble was fairly busy – it was good weather – but first we had to refuel. A few hiccups there – the card machine at the pumps has a default limit of £100, and I needed to fill up from the previous flight plus enough for this one, leading to a delay. With a queue building up of two planes behind us, we pushed the aircraft out of the way before starting up to allow then next one to move in early.

After refuelling, we took off and headed south towards Lyneham, climbing to 3000 feet. The NDB was still operating, but sadly the DME had been turned off – I think this might be quite recent. I practiced a few holds over the NDB, allowing for wind drift and trying to maintain a constant height. I used the technique taught me to determine what type of hold entry was required, and flew the pattern. Looking at the GPS flight log afterwards, they were pretty good shape but were a bit short (timewise).

We then used the NDB approach for Lyneham 24. Without the DME operating, we had to estimate the distance from the beacon – Dave was using his portable GPS to do so – so the pattern wasn’t entirely accurate. It did allow me to turn back towards the beacon and track inbound – descending on the approach profile, but breaking off in good time.

Lastly, I climbed out to the north and repeated the Oxford NDB procedure for runway 19.

Overall, it helped reinforce and remind me of the main aspects of NDB tracking – calculating and allowing for max drift, ensuring I was tracking correctly. I found the rotating card on the ADF display was easy to move but slightly difficult to ensure aligned correctly. FREDA checks, especially with the compass were important.

Returned back to Kemble with a standard overhead join.

An hour in total, it was cheaper than with an instructor – Dave didn’t charge for being a safety pilot – but with less pressure, it helped me think through what I should be doing without anyone reminding me directly. It would have helped to have a working DME, but I thought it was still worthwhile. Perhaps either Filton or Gloucester NDBs could be used next time although their airspace is typically more busy.

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