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  1. #1
    Co-Pilot Antoni's Avatar
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    Your own handy navigation tricks?

    Early in my flying lessons the instructor mentioned the grass airfield we should be flying close to. "Can you see it?" I couldn't. I knew that it was large. Got increasingly despondant at my failure to 'spot' it (there's a clue!). Finally and with great relief I said I can't see the airfield but I can see its orange windsock....

    That was not the last occasion I 'saw' an airfield only after seeing its windsock first. Not good, but is that normal? Once or twice after getting my ticket and flying cross-country I decided I'd spent enough time not finding the planned landing strip and so travelled on. The things in play there were:

    The amount of fuel used looking for it
    Loss of pride at not having found it.
    The current *need* to find it. This is related to the fuel but not the same.

    My trick:
    If you think that an airfield might be difficult to spot, or is unexpectedly becoming so, approach it along one of its runway directions. It's a lot easier to see a strip in the distance along it than to see it sideways.

    [I did find Sutton Meadows quickly enough tho!]
    "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - G.B.S.


  2. #2
    Co-Pilot Martin Watson's Avatar
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    Ha! Yes indeed. Sutton Meadows is right next to a stonking great river though - if you want difficult in that neck of the woods try Fenland. I've sat at 2000' 3 miles from Fenland and headed straight at it, cross checked with the GPS, and not been able to see it. This is normal for Fenland. Eventually you spot an aircraft on the ground...

    One tip that I've found useful is to find a line feature on your chart roughly at right angles to your track and just past whatever it is that you want to find. Then, if you miss your target, you know not to go any further than the line feature and can search left and right along it. Lines of pylons or big roads are good. It's a technique borrowed from orienteering.
    Martin
    BMAA 5370

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  4. #3
    Co-Pilot goldrush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antoni View Post
    Early in my flying lessons the instructor mentioned the grass airfield we should be flying close to. "Can you see it?" I couldn't. I knew that it was large. Got increasingly despondant at my failure to 'spot' it (there's a clue!). Finally and with great relief I said I can't see the airfield but I can see its orange windsock....

    ....snip..]
    Something similar happened to me a million years ago when under training..... instructor shut down the donkey... and said "engine failure.. where are you going?
    I answered... "that nice large field over there"
    Fine he said and away we went... aft6er a while he said.. "Ok you will make it.. but what was wrong with that thing below us?"
    looked down and there was a "lovely long well manicured grass strip right into wind". Duh!
    On another occasion on my first dual cross country. On the way back to base, I noticed the instructor gradually smiling more and more.. eventually he said.. "where is the airfield?"..
    "Straight ahead about 3 miles by that clump of trees"
    Got there.. "someone had dug up the grass and built tarmac runways in our adsence...... wrong "clump of trees.... wrong airfield"
    Airfield was about 5 miles south
    Duh again.

    Until last year, I had my own little 200 metre grass strip... near my house, half a mile off a minor road in a very rural area with the nearest nieghbour some half a mile away.. completely surrounded by many miles of farmland.

    Even giving accurate GPS position details few ever found it first time..
    Wally Hayward


  5. #4
    Co-Pilot Peter Twissell's Avatar
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    See my post in 'Dead reckoning' thread...
    Since the events described therin, I have established that Priory Farm is almost due south of Tacolneston mast (very tall in flat Norfolk) and west of Tibenham WW2 airfield. With those factors, I have no problem finding it.
    G-BZNP Still not dead, but resting following engine failure.


  6. #5
    Co-Pilot Halibut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Watson View Post
    Ha! Yes indeed. Sutton Meadows is right next to a stonking great river though - if you want difficult in that neck of the woods try Fenland. I've sat at 2000' 3 miles from Fenland and headed straight at it, cross checked with the GPS, and not been able to see it. This is normal for Fenland. Eventually you spot an aircraft on the ground...

    One tip that I've found useful is to find a line feature on your chart roughly at right angles to your track and just past whatever it is that you want to find. Then, if you miss your target, you know not to go any further than the line feature and can search left and right along it. Lines of pylons or big roads are good. It's a technique borrowed from orienteering.
    Ah, yes, Fenland! Many's the time I have prowled around in increasing desperation trying to find it. There are at least two 'false Fenlands' and dozens of identical waterways en route over the trackless wastes. But it's worth it when you get there, isn't it? If only for the fry-ups! The sausages are sensational.
    Getting lost is always such fun. I still have fond memories of a NavEx when I was heading from Norwich to Earls Colne. As planned, I followed a road which was crossed by a railway line near a small conurbation. But, of course, it was the wrong road, wrong village, wrong intersection etc etc and I ignored what the compass was telling me - assuming the calculations on my plog had been wrong or the wind conditions had changed.
    After a while, I looked down and spotted a large tarmac runway directly beneath us.
    "Do you know where we are?" my instructor asked rather casually.
    "Yes," I confessed. "I've gone off track. That's Wattisham."
    By pure luck, we were just high enough to avoid an invitation to Gatwick with no tea or biscuits. The instructor called them up and asked for what was then a Flight Information Service
    They very helpfully gave it to us.
    Then, a few moments later, said: "Actually, you're over RAF Honington..."
    We travelled on in silence for 10 minutes, until the instructor said: "And what would you do if you encountered a fast jet heading straight for you?"
    While I was still mumbling something, he took the controls and sent us in a brutal, gut-churning plunge to starboard.
    Funnily enough, he seemed quite a lot happier after that.
    Are you the farmer?

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  8. #6
    Co-Pilot Halibut's Avatar
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    One thing I do find useful is a sort of rule of thumb - or, in this case, a rule of fingers.
    Four of my finger tips side-by-side measure about 18nm on a half-mill chart.
    So if I'm on the move and I want a quick calculation of how long it'll take to be somewhere, I just measure it with fingers.
    Combine that finger measurement with flying at easily-divisible speeds and:
    at 90kts, four fingers will take 12 minutes;
    at 60kts, it'll take 18 minutes.
    Are you the farmer?

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  10. #7
    Co-Pilot Halibut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Twissell View Post
    See my post in 'Dead reckoning' thread...
    Since the events described therin, I have established that Priory Farm is almost due south of Tacolneston mast (very tall in flat Norfolk) and west of Tibenham WW2 airfield. With those factors, I have no problem finding it.
    I've never been sure how to pronounce Tacolneston.
    Is is tack-oll-nest-on?
    Or is there some particular Norfolk pronunciation?
    Are you the farmer?


  11. #8
    Co-Pilot Martin Watson's Avatar
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    Tackleston I think
    Yup, lots of good 'local' pronounced names. My favourite is Happisburgh. Pronounced 'Haze-borough'.
    Martin
    BMAA 5370


  12. #9
    Captain MadamBreakneck's Avatar
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    Rule of thumb: of course most people will know the top joint of a typical adult thumb is 10 miles on a half-mil chart and 5 miles on a -mil one.

    I always taught navigation from large object to small - identify that big city or lake or whatever; find the smaller feature closer to your goal; if possible, find a line feature to take you home.

    Martin mentioned Sutton Meadows - when I flew there I liked the fact that the drains (or rivers) went right past, and the village of Sutton was like an arrowhead pointing almost straight at the airfield. Then track due north, keeping Chatteris town on your left and you can't miss Chatteris airfield (making sure you've called ahead to make sure the drop zone's clear!). 'Twas one of my QXC destinations that.
    I remember it still
    Last edited by MadamBreakneck; 05-04-20 at 20:48 PM. Reason: minor clarifications



    Back to just bimbling in the TST.

    No longer instructing - just pontificating..
    and now a Tai Chi instructor


  13. #10
    Trainee Pilot Trident's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Watson View Post
    Tackleston I think
    Yup, lots of good 'local' pronounced names. My favourite is Happisburgh. Pronounced 'Haze-borough'.
    Try Garboldisham, pronounced Garble-sham, or Cley pronounced Cliy.
    Comfortably Numb......


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