Qualifying Cross Country – 150nm of awesomeness

On the 07 June 2015, I did my Qualifying Cross country solo navigation part of my PPL Course. After being washed out the day before on a count of weather (the wind being too strong at Lydd – 25V35 at 340), I luckily had booked Saturday and Sunday sessions to book my QXC. The winds had eased on Sunday and it was a beautiful UK summers day.

My route that I did was the below:

QXC RouteThe route totalled 155nm in total landing at EGMD (Lydd) and EGSR (Earls Colne) whilst clearing Southend controlled airspace. I had been at the airfield for 0800am with an early 0600 start to have my pick of long range C152 and this is the beauty that took me the entire way:

IMG_1035There were a couple of lessons I took away from the trip the primary one is to read the correct line on your PLOG! On your navigation PLOG people either decide to put on their first line their departure airfield to their first turning point or they don’t and fly it visually to the first point. I think it is good practice to put it on your PLOG. However, no matter how much highlighting and underlining I had made to ensure when I flew to my first turning point (J28 of the M25) I was to turn onto bearing 170 not 125. What did I do? Of course I took the 125 bearing….. The highlighting had worked for all my nav trips except 2 and my second was my QXC. So what happened?

The first sign of doing something wrong came when the lovely lady at the end of the radio at Farnborough LARS East had given me a heads up saying I was drifting close to Southend Controlled Airspace and advised I turn onto a bearing of 150. Naturally, I listened and did as she said whilst feeling very confused. At this point I was determined to pinpoint myself on the map. I identified myself when crossing the Thames as over the train track on the eastern side of Gravesend. Then it dawned on me what I had done. I corrected by about 50 degrees to put me back on track to my turning point at Bewl Water. After this, the nav was smooth sailing the whole way round.

Key learning points:

  1. If you know your departure airfield and fly from it regularly, fly to your first turning point visually.
  2. If you do not know your departure airfield always plan from that airfield to the first turning point and don’t forget to remember that climb out time and the TAS entered on the PLOG is not cruise TAS.
  3. Always conduct a thorough Gross Error check post you’re first and any turning point along the navigation. Your first inclination to an error should not be a radar service unit telling you are straying into controlled airspace.

Apron C at Lydd:

IMG_1032In front of the flying school and Essex emergency rescue at Earls Colne (With their Eurocopter taking off just outside of shot):


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