The journey continues.. whilst I thoroughly enjoy being a casual flyer, for my journey to continue, I really need to just get this PPL done and dusted and march on toward my CPL (and beyond). At this point, the flying once every now and again method simply isn’t working. I need some consistent navigation flying to keep up to scratch, otherwise I start to take a step backwards shortly after taking one forward.
So what’s happened since we last spoke and how did this flight come about. Well, let’s see. For one, my instructor decided on a change of scenery for a while and (much to my sadness) is no longer instructing 🙁 I’ll take this opportunity to give him a bit of a rap – Robert was a fantastic instructor and all round great bloke. He got me through times in my training where others would have seen me give up. I really couldn’t have asked for a better instructor to get me through the initial stages of my training. Thanks mate 🙂
“I really couldn’t have asked for a better instructor to get me through the initial stages of my training. Thanks mate”
Anyway, back to present day. So I decided to get back in the air again and, instead of just doing another lovely jaunt around the training area, I decided to enrol the assistance of the CFI at Gil Layt’s, Steve. I told Steve that I would really like to get my PPL done ASAP. He suggested another navigation flight to assess where I’m at and fill in any holes in my learning or any areas where I’ve become a bit rusty. This would be my 6th official nav in my PPL training. Steve suggested a flight for me to plan – Archerfield (YBAF) – Gold Coast (YBCG) – Millmerran (YMMN) – Toowoomba (YTWB) – Archerfield (YBAF). The plan was to fly at or above 3500 from Archerfield to the Gold Coast (to maximise contact with ATC), then fly to and land at Millmerran and from there head home via Toowoomba (over fly only).
When I was planning the flight, there were 3 main areas of concern for me: flying from Archerfield to the Gold Coast, departing the Gold Coast; and transiting the Amberley restricted airspace. Steve asked me to ensure I planned at or above 3500 feet to Gold Coast to ensure I spoke to ATC as much as possible. Flying into controlled airspace like the Gold Coast is both intimidating and confusing. There is a systematic approach to be followed but getting your head around it can be hard. After speaking with Nick from Gil Layt’s for some guidance, I realised there were two ways I could approach the clearance. I could request a discrete code on the ground first and then get the rest of my clearance in the air or do the whole lot in the air. I opted for option 1. Turns out, this wasn’t ideal and probably increased my workload a little more than needed.
So we took off from runway 28R at Archerfield, turned left and headed towards track. First mistake, I didn’t turn enough toward the track initially to ensure I met the desired track. Steve helped a little with this and before long I was back on track. Lesson learned, from upwind, turn 30° more than the intended heading before turning back on to the correct heading when passing the centre of the field. Anyway, we continued on toward the Gold Coast. Before long, the Gold Coast opened up before us and the airfield was almost immediately visible (provided you knew where to look). The scariest part of landing at the Gold Coast is the clearances and handovers. Luckily, on this occasion, I got given a straight in approach which made it nice and easy. My landing at the Gold Coast was pretty standard, not awesome but definitely acceptable as far as landings are concerned. It was just after the landing that it all went a little pear shaped. On the ground, the instructions can get a little confusing. Basically, they wanted me to take taxiway Bravo and hold short of Charlie as there was a jet crossing. The part that I got wrong was that I had to cross over the hold short line for runway 14 but stop short of taxiway Charlie. Luckily this controller was very patient and gave me a little nudge to cross that line before stopping. Next came the instruction to cross runway 17 and taxiway C onto Golf to the GA Apron. I can’t remember exactly how I stuffed this one up but again, the nice man in the tower had to give me a little helping hand.
After all that confusion, we turned around in the apron, spoke with ATC again and before long were cleared to Millmerran at 6500 feet. The flight from the Gold Coast to Millmerran was pretty uneventful, the winds were mild and the clouds high. About 10nm out, Steve advised that we would detour straight from Millmerran to Archerfield, skipping Toowoomba completely. I kind of expected that diversion to happen at some stage so all was good. Having not landed at Millmerran before, I was a little surprised by how thin the runway was. It was actually a little off putting after having just landed at the Gold Coast – a width difference of 35 metres! By this time, the wind had whipped up a little and there was now a sub 10 not cross wind to play with. My landing was less than desirable and we decided to have another go at it just to get the practise in. The second landing was much better and we continued on our merry way back to Archerfield.
On the way back, we let Brisbane Centre know about the flight plan change and checked the airspace status of Amberley which we would be flying through. Everything was all good so we headed in to Archerfield via the Goodna reporting point. All up it was a pretty good flight but since I was still a little rusty, we decided another flight was definitely in order. The next one will be YBAF – YBCG – YBYL – YSPE – YBAF. Should be fun!
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