Training Area Familiarisation

In which I spray myself with AVGAS, finally get out of the circuit, fly the boundaries of the training area and learn how to read a map.


Today’s mission was to fly around the borders of the Lilydale training area so I know where I’m allowed to go, and also to cover some very basic navigation so I know how to find my way back to the airport 🙂

I preflighted 4964, then was told I was going to refuel it myself today. I dislike ladders so I wasn’t too keen on the prospect of balancing on a ladder while trying to wield a fuel hose!

I taxiied over to the fuel pad and J wandered over to keep an eye on me while I was refuelling (I joked it was to make sure I didn’t fall off the ladder) I got everything set up and climbed up to fill the RHS tank. I put the nozzle in the hole and pressed the trigger…and got sprayed with AVGAS!  Luckily J had disappeared to grab the bucket to wash the windows and didn’t see my AVGAS splashing! I fiddled around a bit and realised that the rubber thing on the end of the fuel nozzle was actually…a cap (oops!).  I took that off and suddenly everything starting working more like I expected 😛

I finished the RHS tank and moved around to the LHS tank. This one was on the far side of the plane from the bowser so it was hard to read how much you’d put in. I thought it seemed to fill up pretty quickly but the bowser seemed to say 20 litres so  I figured I was done. Until I walked over to replace the hose and realised the bowser said 2 litres not 20, they really need to make those numbers bigger… Anyway, I added another 18 or so litres and it was done.

We jumped in and J explained what we were going to be doing this mission – basically, flying around the boundaries of the training area so I know where I’m allowed to go, plus a look at very basic navigation (i.e. how to read a map).

Runway 18 was in use so I taxiied us over and did the pre-takeoff checks. As I was doing it a call came over the radio that they were changing to active runway to 36. I’m very glad I wasn’t in the circuit at that point, judging by the radio calls there was a bit of confusion up there as everyone got turned around.

I finished the checks, taxiied us to 36 and did the takeoff.

We climbed to 3000ft and started our trek around the training area.

The training area for Lilydale is basically the Yarra Valley and is surrounded by mountains. It reaches up to Kinglake in the north, around to Healesville and Warburton, down to Emerald and back up the north. At the end of the mission I said that the main thing to remember about the Lilydale training area is that “If you’ve hit a mountain, you’ve gone too far”. J pointed out that if you hit a mountain you’ve probably got more things to worry about than just that, but he could see what I meant 😛

We also looked at the basics of reading a map while flying. It’s important to orientate the map so it’s facing the same way as your flight path, rather than trying to look at the map then work out where everything is in relation to it. If the map is facing the same way as you’re going, then all the things on the map will (hopefully) be in the same place as they are out the window, you don’t need to hunt around for them.

As we headed north back to Lilydale, we passed Coldstream. It’s important to remember to not go below 2000ft (I think) when passing Coldstream to avoid their circuit area. A few years ago there was a mid-air collision between a Coldstream aircraft and a Lilydale aircraft, luckily nobody was hurt, but unsurprisingly they’re keen to avoid it happening again!

We joined the circuit on crosswind and flew a normal circuit. The landing was flapless and I ended up slightly low for most of final which I should have corrected more than I did. Overall the landing was fairly smooth, although not my best. It’ll be interesting to see how my landings go now I’m not practicing them so often!

The plan for next mission depends upon the weather – if it’s nice weather, we’ll be doing some work on advanced stalling, if not, we’ll be doing some work on steep turns. It’s certainly nice to be out of circuits for a change 🙂


9 Responses to Training Area Familiarisation

  1. Nick says:

    Hey Darky,

    That sounds like a great lesson towards your next milestone – area solo!


  2. Darky says:

    Well at least now I know that when they do send me on my area solo, I’ll be able to find my way back again! 😛

  3. Flyingninja says:

    Haha! I know what you mean when it’s preferable to be on the ground when tower’s making all those sequencing changes up there. I remember some months ago in circuit when I was on downwind. Then the active runway was changed so that my downwind now became my crosswind… and there were already 6 aircraft in the circuit. Interesting.

  4. Darky says:

    We don’t have a tower, it sounded like it was one aircraft deciding to change to the other way and everyone else figured it was easiest to just go with it…

  5. Flyingninja says:

    That’s right, no tower. That would take a fair amount of scanning and monitoring on the radio to keep things safe. I’m not sure if having a tower would make things any safer to be honest. I had a near-miss in August that prefaces my following comments. It was shortly after CASA introduced the 6-max ruling in GAAP circuits. Well, we were trying to re-join circuit on downwind when someone jumped in first. Being the 7th aircraft, we had to bank away. What Air Services Australia’s traffic controllers then told us was effectively to fly around until the next slot becomes available. No instructions on how high or where. The CFI took over, made a sharp left turn. As she levelled off, I saw a Cessna zoom past at my 11 o’clock about 800m away. There were about 5 other aircraft caught outside the circuit all trying to find their way in, and with no instructions on where to go while we waited. Remember those old war movies where the fighter pilots frantically looked all around to find out who was shooting at him because he had no idea? It was very much like that that day. Not my idea of fun, let me tell you. CASA’s latest revision to allow 8-max in the circuit is a direct response to incidents like that. I nearly stopped flying later that week because that sort of nonsense up there was totally unacceptable. There’s bad blood between CASA and ASA, and users like us are caught in the middle. Luckily, I was coaxed back and thankfully, nothing like that has happened since.

  6. Darky says:

    That’s insane. Sometimes I’m very glad I’m doing my basic training at a non-towered field simply because there’s (generally) less traffic.

  7. Flyingninja says:

    I know. But there are always good and bad in every situation I guess. Where it’s quiet at Lilydale, you have the time and space to be un-rushed in learning your craft. At Jandakot where we are the busiest airport in the southern hemisphere, I guess we get immersed in learning how to deal with traffic and constant radio chatter. And the margins are finer because in the circuit, you are always following or being followed with about 30 seconds of separation at best. All good fun hey?

  8. Darky says:

    Yeah the different situations have their own benefits and weaknesses. When I go for my PPL I’ll be venturing over to the madness that is Moorabbin and I think I’ll probably freak out the first few times 😛

  9. Sweet post.. I hope you continue on posting these great posts! I will be subscribing to your rss 🙂

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