PPL: First Navigation

The first navigation is a big step in the training, not only we will go further away but going from one airport to another requires some planning. As it was the first navigation, my instructor and I did the flight planning together. The route was Avignon (LFMV) -> Aubenas (LFHO) -> Avignon (LFMV)

There are so many elements of flight planning to consider before the flight. At first it can seem quite daunting. Here are just some of the things to consider:

  • Weather – at departure airfield, destination airfield and en-route
  • NOTAMs  (Notice To AirMen) – temporary notices and restrictions, you must check for any notams along your planned route
  • Fuel – how much fuel is required for your journey, including a contingency amount
  • Weight and balance – are you able to fly the planned route with the fuel, passengers and luggage that you are planning to take?
  • Alternatives – what airfields can you divert to if the weather turns bad?

As well as all this, you have the job of planning which route you want to take. This sounds like a fairly straightforward process – and can be – but can get very complicated very quickly if your route is surrounded by complex restricted airspace.

As you can see from the route chosen, we will be departing from the CTR Avignon class D, passing through the R 55 B ORANGE CARITAT and finally arriving in class G airspace to land at LFHO. Not the easiest destination for my first navigation. But I’m up to the challenge 🙂

The distance was 98 NM for a duration of 59 minutes (our cruise speed is 100 kt), we plotted the route, added waypoints/fixes along with the headings and duration. We also noted the frequencies we will be using along the route. We didn’t use any navaids as it was my first navigation, I will have a lot on my plate.

Once the route was plotted on the chart and all headings, durations, frequencies were reported on the navigation log, we calculated the fuel required and the weight and balance of the aircraft to make sure it was within limit.

The flight planning was done and the next day I booked a 3 hours slot to do the flight. Before the flight we checked the weather and NOTAMs. Everything was perfect that day and we went to the plane. As usual did the pre-flight check and we run checklists. Few minutes later we were in the air following our navigation log. Talking to other controllers along the route, reporting time at waypoints to see if we were ahead or behind schedule and if you were on track. After 30 minutes or so we arrived at LFHO by doing an overhead join and landed. The return was pretty much the same thing but in reverse.

The hardest part for me was to keep the planned heading and altitude while doing all the other things at the same time (looking for outside reference to see if we were on track, talking to the controllers and following their instruction and filling the navlog).

It was a little bit more than an hour flight but it seems like a 8 hours drive… very tiring. But it was very interesting to land somewhere else where I wasn’t familiar with the terrain nor the runway. Also talking to other controllers and landed in a non-controlled aerodrome was something I’ve never done before. So all in all, a very good lesson where I’ve learnt a lot.

I look forward to doing my next navigation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *