We did our third navigation today. Because I arrived quite late, sadly, we couldn't do everything that was planned. By the time we had reviewed my plan and prepared the plane we were already an hour in. So we ended up half an hour late and we didn't get to do our planned few touch-and-go's at EBAV.
This, of course, increases the stress level a little. But that doesn't mean the flight wasn't good.
The weather was amazing: a moderate (~ 8 kts) southerly wind, perfect visibility and clear skies. This made the navigation quite easy.
The goal was to fly via Spa (EBSP) around the Liege (EBLG) CTR to Avernas (EBAV). Do some touch-and-go's there and fly back to Hasselt (EBZH).
My original plan was to first fly the same route to EBTX we did last time. Turn a little befor EBSP because I didn't want to fly overhead there. At EBSP they do sky-diving so you don't normally fly over it.
Then I'd follow a river until it splits up. Then follow heading 270 (265 with wind correction) to the city of Tinlot.
The next reference point I found on the map was Andenne so I planned to just keep flying.
The changed plan
My instructor advised some changes.
My plan took me above the city of Spa, which you aren't allowed to fly over (d'oh!). So we'd fly around EBSP, a highway indicated the border of the zone you couldn't fly over.
Then, instead of continuing west to Andenne, we could fly directly to EBAV, just past the Liege CTR boundary. That boundary is clearly visible thanks to the Tiange Nuclear Plant (steam) and some windmills right next to it. Stay west of those windmills and you are clear of the CTR.
The first leg
We first flew, like the previous navigation, via Bilzen, to a dock near Visé straight to EBTX (Theux).
At some point after Visé (and old mining site) we climbed to 2500 ft. Then at the highway in front of Verviers we climbed further to 3100 ft. Overhead EBTX it's quite easy to spot EBSP, which sits on top of a hill and manifests itself as a green flat surface.
3100 ft is 500 ft above the circuit hight of EBSP. We then flew around EBSP, headed up north again and use the map to recapture my original route. This was a little easier than expected. In real life, everything seems a lot closer together than on the map.
I could've paid more attention to water and highways during my planning. Following the river was a little harder since it was inside a valey.
We used some lake, a highway and a windmill to find our track back.
The second leg
All the time, even at EBZH, the nuclear plant of Thiange was clearly visible. So we just kept flying west, locating the highway crossing the city of Tinlot. And then past Thiange we could turn to EBAV.
The scenery there (the ardennes) is a little different from our home-base at Hasselt. Less small towns, more fields and hills (small hills). It's a little more sparse. But that also means the land-marks that are there are easier to spot.
The third leg
We had already decided to just fly overhead of EBAV. We located it thanks to a large antenna, a highway and the right set of windmills. It's a very small field, only for ultralights, so I would've liked to land there. But obviously, due to my own fault, we were already running late.
For the last stretch, we flew OVER Sint-Truiden (> 2000 ft is required), via Alken straight to Hasselt.
At EBAV Hasselt was already easy to spot. It currently has two windmills at the north and two at the south of the city. So we flew straight into EBZH for landing and debriefing.
In the end, we flew for and hour and a half. My planning had us on 1 hour, but that excludes take-off, landing and engine run-up.
I had come prepared with maps of the airfields we were passing (EBTX and EBSP). I also had clearly noted the radio frequencies I could need (EBTX, EBSP, EBAV, Brussels Information, EBZH).
Knowing where I was went quite well, thanks to the weather!
I hadn't located a map for EBAV because I didn't know where to find it. I was pointed to ULIP, which has maps specifically for Ultralight fields in Belgium.
On take-off, I must pull up the nose immediatly to relieve the front nose-wheel more.
I should come in earlier!
I should do better at maintaining my height. That seemed harder than last time.
When I started, it took me a while to realize I was flying at 4500 rpm instead of 5000. This also meant I was flying slower than planned. And we were already late!
Everything looks bigger on the map.
Buy two Low-Air VFR maps of Belgium, because they are printed recto-verso. Flanders on one side, Wallonie on the other. If you cross the border you cannot easily turn it around. To solve that now I had a copy of both parts and used the copy for flying the part I was most familiar with. But that was still hard. Having two maps would make it easier.
Pay more attention to ceilings of the airspaces, maybe note them on the map.
When you have one leg for a single course, separated by several visual reference points. Note down the track and EET (Estimated Elapsed Time) once, and write the minutes only with every visual reference point.
Look for bridges, highways and lakes in the ardennes.
Looking back, it was nice to see the scenery, I flew over some familiar places too, which is still pretty amazing. I really liked seeing EBSP and EBST from the sky. Everything looks very different and much smaller (even if we're only 1000 ft above). It's different than being a passenger on an airliner when you are actually flying the plane yourself.
1:24 flying time: € 134,40
2 hour instructor time: € 72