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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Cross Country

After some 5 "local" lessons (from and to the same airfield) since my official start per the first of Januari this year, I now finally have flown to another airfield too!
The first so-called Cross Country flight went to Texel airport (EHTX), the second one to Teuge (EHTE).

The 28th of April (yes, I know I'm a bit late writing about it), we flew to Texel for some touch-and-goes.

During the first bit of the flight, we used the meadows to play the game of "where would you put her down if your engine would quit on you now?". An engine doesn't stop all that often, of course, but if it does, it's good to be prepared. Knowing your potential landing spots before any such thing happens to you, just might make the difference between a stressful situation and sheer panic. Therefore, this look-out technique should become second nature, on behalf of flight safety.
The Texel circuit is at 1000 ft, while the rest of the Netherlands has circuits at 700ft AGL (Above Ground Level).

The two grass runways at Texel are also 33% wider than the runway at Lelystad. That gives a totally different perspective on the runway. First of all, the contrast between the runway and it's surroundings is minimal. And then, the width of the runway makes you think you are nearer to the ground than you actually are. Of course, I have to do without all visual references I use at Lelystad too.Lt's see how this goes ...
Closing in on the island, it soon became clear that the ugly weather for that dat was closing in on us from the North-East. During the circuit flying, we needed to descend to 700 ft, to stay clear of clouds. After 3 touch-and-goes, we called it a day already, and decided to go pay the harbour master (yes, aviation and maritime life have a lot in common). After shaking Mike de Bruin's hand (the man is a living legend in the Dutch General Aviation world), and paying the landing, we went on our wy again. The front that was closing in, would soon after Texel airport, also close in Lelystad Airport, so there was some pressure to leave. Alternatives would need to be to the south-west, so Hilversum would be the logical choice, if it ccame to that. If we would need to go to a hardened surface airport, due to wet terrain at Hilversum for example, we would need to go to Rotterdam or Breda International (former Seppe). Both did not sound as attractive alternatives. Nice to go there, some time, but not as a forced deviation

Once we got back to Lelystad (in between Lelystad City, and the Oostvaardersplassen, then south of the ATZ, to reporting point Bravo), it looked like we could still do some extra landings. So we did another two T/G's (and one full-stop landing, of course). As can be seen in the picture above, I had to build in some delay in my first circuit, to create the proper separation with the aircraft before me. But other than that, pretty neat circuits :)

Talking about diversions: the "standard" diversion airport for Lelystad is Teuge (and the other way around). Both have similar length, paved runways, but in different directions (comes in handy if at one of the two, the crosswind component is too high). They are some 20 flying minutes away from each other, so well within the fuel reserve limits. It even leaves some room to cancel the deviation, and return to the home field, if the situation improves suddenly.
Time to go have a look at  Teuge. So the next lesson is off to Teuge to familiarise with the local circuit, and do some touch-and-goes there too.
The circuit at Teuge is different from the circuit at Lelystad, in the sense that it is shorter to avoid noise sensitive areas, but wider so that the flown distance is about the same. The points at which to change power settings are therefore different with respect to the Lelystad circuit, and that takes some getting used to.
Especially when runway 27 is in use, final is rather short, so turning final takes place at significantly lower altitude. Then, the runway is about the same length, but considerably narrower. That gives an optical illusion of being longer, and of the plane being higher than reality. Needless to say that this poses a certain risk of coming in too low.
After some stall exercises again over the Dronten - Biddinghuizen area, I had to simulate a diversion to Teuge. That means I had to navigate my own way towards the field. Now, I have already overflown the camping where we have our mobile home a number of times, so that was easy to find. And I know that from there, a track of 135 degrees will take me over the field, so all I needed to do is compensate for the wind a bit. I still had some altitude because of the stall exercises, so the city of Apeldoorn came into view soon after we passed the camping. So there was no problem at all navigating to Teuge at all (since it sits just East of Apeldoorn).

To stay clear of the field, the city of Apeldoorn, and the Deelen CTR south of Apeldoorn, we decided to go "over the north" to the east side of the field, go around the village of Twello, and try and find reporting point S (Sierra) along the A1 highway.

Sierra is very conspicuous, as there are several orange / red containers piled upon each other, right next to it. I was surprised to learn how well the little ditch we needed to follow towards visual marker C (Charlie) is visible from above. I even saw the marker itself! As we arrived, runway 09 was in use, so at C a left turn towards B, which is situated right before the A50 highway. The "avoid to overfly" area just north of B is a large greenhouse complex, which forms a good visual reference for turning base. Then it's a matter of turning final at the right moment, and aligning with the runway. This, I found to be the most tricky part. Late on the first attempt, early on the second, and a bit "swervy" (not very straight, oscillating, over-compensating) on the third attempt. But that is exactly what this training is all about: practice makes perfect, in the end...

Finally time for coffee ... or not. After paying the landing fees with the harbour master, it appeared the restaurant was still closed! Ah, well,... Let's go back to Lelystad, then, and have ourselves a coffee at the club. As we taxied out, the doors of the restaurant terrace opened ... But we were now on our way "home", so that's what we decided to keep doing. On our way back, I got to play a llittle with the rudder; slipping. Just roll right, and compensate with left rudder to keep flying straight. This induces a lot more drag, so you loose speed almost immediately, and therewith altitude. This is the way to "brake", if you're coming in too fast or too high. Maybe I'll need it later, but for now let's focus on a correct glide path. After that, some more stall excersise, and then head for reporting point "Bravo" at Lelystad.

I now have two cross-country flights in my logbook. If I also fly to Hilversum, then I will have all three alternates for Lelystad in my book. The langs counter is now at 40, so that's starting to look like something already too!
All I need now is some training in emergency procedures, and I'll have covered everything necessary to go fly solo. Now all I need to do is to jack up my proficiency in all areas, to get my solo clearance ...

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