03 March 2018

First blogpost! Flight to Oxford (or maybe not)

Over the last few days I have been getting an overwhelming response on publishing my new website, for which I am deeply grateful to you all! In a couple of the responses I was asked why I didn't start a blog about how the current phase of flight training is going. I have always been quite sceptical about starting a blog so far, mainly because of the fact there are so many bloggers out there doing the same thing and basically sharing the same content. As I think I might be able to sort of differentiate from the others by giving you an inside look in my life as a trainee pilot, supported by the pictures I have taken and will continue taking throughout I have decided to give it a go! My main goal is to create unique content throughout my blog and basically my entire website. If there is anything you would like to get to know more about, please do not hesitate to drop a comment or send me your questions by filling in the Contact form.

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Flight to Oxford, or maybe not...

After a couple of days off, I was due to fly last Wednesday. I was scheduled to depart at 09:00 in G-DOSC (one of the leased DA42's from Diamond Systems) for a flight down to Oxford where I would practice a hold overhead a beacon followed by an approach into a missed approach. After leaving Oxford's airspace we would head back to Bournemouth for another approach to land. En route we would do some general handling (stall practice, steep turns, unusual attitude recoveries and basic instrument flying on a limited panel)



Considering this was my first time to Oxford, I was thinking which approach would be the most likely to get on the Instrument Rating Test (IRT) if Oxford would be the assigned route. After considering which types of approaches I had done into other airports (such as Alderney, Exeter, Guernsey and Jersey) before, I decided to go with two possible procedures. Depending on the runway in use it was either going to be an ILS DME procedure (runway 19) or a special NDB DME procedure (runway 01).


NDB DME 098˚ procedure for runway 01

ILS DME procedure for runway 19

ILS DME procedure for runway 19


Most approach procedures will position you - if you follow them correctly - on the extended runway centreline or within a couple degrees therefrom, so that when becoming visual with the runway you will be able to conduct a safe landing from it. The ILS DME procedure does so. However, since runway 01 does not have an ILS DME procedure and due to the complex nature of the airspace around Oxford, there is no approach procedure available for runway 01 to position you on or near the extended centreline. That's where the so-called '098' procedure comes into play. This procedure basically positions you over the top of the airfield, perpendicular to the runway centreline. From that point pilots are required to join the visual circuit by making a right turn onto the downwind leg, following the circuit and making a visual approach onto runway 01. Due to the complexity of this procedure and the fact that the final part of the approach has to be flown in visual reference to the ground whilst maintaining sufficient obstacle clearance, the minimums (altitude at which the pilot has to commence the missed approach procedure in case no visual reference with the ground or runway can be obtained) are fairly high. 

Looking at the weather on Tuesday night, the forecast showed that there would be a significant chance of some snow at the airport in Bournemouth at the time I was to depart for my flight. However, since we are flying according to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) the chances were likely that I would have still been able to conduct the flight. My instructor told me we were briefing at 07:30. Since I wanted to obtain the weather, complete all documentation before the briefing and do the aircraft pre-flight inspection before the briefing I decided to drive off to Bournemouth at 05:30.


Upon stepping outside the house in Southampton, I noticed it was snowing and there already was a small amount of snow on the road. En route I saw the snow was getting more intense and I started to realise there might be a chance that the flight had to be cancelled. Luckily I arrived in time to the training centre at Bournemouth and I started my planning for the day. An instructor who was there already told me that he had already cancelled the flights with his students due to the weather and chances are very likely that mine would be cancelled as well. Nonetheless I continued planning so I would be ready to go in case the weather got better. Unfortunately it didn't. Studying the weather charts indicated a high likelihood of severe turbulence and icing on our planned route and altitudes. When my instructor arrived I told her what was going on and we both agreed to cancel the flight due to the weather. After a quick peek on the ramp I decided to head back home to Southampton. Later that day we received an email from the Chief Flight Instructor (CFI) stating that the training centre would be closed from 14:00 on Wednesday and would remain closed on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully I will be able to conduct the flight on Monday as thaw is predicted over the weekend!

Photo by Dan Marsden

Photo by Dan Marsden

© Daan van der Heijden