Monday, September 1, 2008

Nav7: from Redcliffe to Archerfield

Nav7 is the last solo nav before the PPL pre-test and test. Last chance to fix bad habits before it's too late. The plan was to go from Redcliffe to Archerfield and refuel there, then to Goondiwindi via Gatton, Warwick and Inglewood. The third and final leg took me back to Redcliffe via Millmerran, Toowoomba and Esk. The total time spent in the air for this trip was 4.3 hours and the airplane was VH-SPP, a Cessna 172SP. A very long flight, so I'll break up the story into three posts.

For this flight I used a PhotoTrackr device that I borrowed from my friend Christian. It's basically a GPS receiver that records GPS fixes to a flash memory that can later be read by plugging the device into a PC. It is powered by a single AA battery and requires only one button to operate. The roof hook at the back of the 172 provided a perfect hanging point for maximising the number of satellites that the device can see.

The track for the first leg starts with a take-off to the west from Redcliffe Aerodrome, then south-west to the TV Towers, south-east to the Centenary Bridge and finally joining the circuit for a full-stop landing on 28R at Archerfield at 10:45AM.

The day started a lot earlier though. When I left home it was 7AM and only 6 degrees outside. Quite cold for a Queensland winter. I drove to Redcliffe with virtually no traffic and pulled into the small shopping centre next to Bunnings for a coffee and a slice of cake. Then I walked into Subway next door.

The lady was kind enough to serve me even though the store was not open yet. She even called me "keen and early". This was the first time in my entire life that these two adjectives were used in conjunction to describe my personality. It must be one of those things flying does to you. I got a foot-long roast beef sandwich with no sauce since I know from past experience how soggy the sauce can make the bread after 3 or 4 hours spent in a plastic bag at the back of the plane.

At the club I helped push planes out of the hangar then sat down for flight planning. The weather forecast was amazingly good with not a single cloud in sight, unlimited visibility and some wind from the west thanks to a large low over Tasmania. The westerlies were expected to grow stronger and gustier in the afternoon though because of an approaching cold front. The forecasted winds at the surface were 15 knots gusting at 25 for Oakey, and 16 gusting at 26 for Toowoomba. Goondiwindi had 14 knots of wind with no gusts and a crosswind component of 7 knots.

I got Tony to double-check my flight notification form. He made sure I knew where controlled airspace was and how and where to check if I needed a clearance into it or not. And also that I had checked the crosswind component for Goondiwindi. Then he signed me out and asked that I rang the club from Goondiwindi to let everyone know I had landed safely.

I took some time to pre-flight the airplane and prepare the cabin for the long flight. I made sure everything was within reach of my seat, including water, spare pencils and flight computer. I took off on 25, kept flying the runway heading then tracked for the township of Samford at 1500ft. As soon as I had a bit of time I tuned and wrote down the ATIS for Archerfield.

After Samford I started flying south, overflew the Enoggera Reservoir and made my inbound call for Archerfield abeam the TV Towers. Then I tracked 153 degrees for the Centenary Bridge. The bridge is sitting very low on the water and is hidden from view by a curtain of trees, which means it only becomes visible when one is practically over it.

Archer Tower asked me to join downwind for 28R. As I reported downwind tower informed me I was number 4 in the circuit and that I should widen my downwind leg. I reported sighting the plane in front of me and widened the circuit a bit. Then a few second later I saw another plane, a lot more to my left, and a lot closer than the previous one I had spotted. This was actually the plane I was expected to follow, not the previous one... Oops... This time around I really widened downwind, doubling the distance between me and the runway. In hindsight, I should have made sure I sighted all three airplanes ahead of me in the circuit when I was told I was number 4, not just the airplane I thought was the one prior to me in the sequence.

I landed on 28R and exited via the second taxiway. Then I taxied to the transient parking area in front of the terminal and called the refuel truck on the radio. He showed up a few minutes later and I asked him to fill up the tanks to the top. He noticed the name of the Redcliffe Aero Club etched onto the BP fuel swipe card and asked if I was on my way to Goondiwindi. I guess I'm not the first student pilot to stop at Archerfield for refuel on Nav7. He added 130 litres, which brought the tanks to their combined maximum of 201 litres.

After he left I checked fuel level and all fuel drains and did a quick walk around the airplane to make sure everything was still fine. I taxied to the grass run-up bay for 28L, making sure no plane was on final for 28R when crossing at the back of 28R on taxiway A9. After run-up checks I made sure everything was ready for take-off before calling ready, not like that time at Gold Coast when I forgot to switch the transponder on. ATIS had not changed, strobes, nav lights, transponder, DG and compass aligned, mixture on full rich, flaps up. I called ready for take-off at the holding point and was cleared for take-off and a departure to the west.

Next stop Goondiwindi. 171 nautical miles to cover with strong headwinds. Estimated duration of the leg one hour and fifty-two minutes. Average ground speed about 90 knots. That'll give us plenty of time to admire South-East Queensland unfold below us.

1 comment:

Justin Chan said...

thanks you very much for such an informative sharing. I am really impressed.