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My First Big Nav (What a Washout)

Adrian Lewer

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Hi guy's i thought i would share todays experience with you all. i had the priveledge of borrowing Ian's Gazelle today for a flight. the plan was to fly YBLT,YMEL,Werribee Race course, Williamstown, coastal to Tooradin, Point Lonsdale, YGLG, YLED, YBLT. but ofcourse the weather was a bit of a concern so we ammended the flight plan to


YBLT, YLED, YGLG, Coastal to Point Lonsdale, Across to Tyabb then back the way i came.


well all was great for the first leg we stopped at YLED to fuel,(i was being over cautious) the next 3 Legs to Tyabb, we fueled there as well (still worried about fuel)


Tracking back to Point Lonsdale we where looking across ot out destination and all was looking fine, get across the heads over to Barwon Heads and it became obviouse there was a slight chance of the cloud lovering and small pockets of showers (like the tempo said i_dunno )


we decided we will drop from 2500 AMSL which the cloud base was about 3000 AMSL down to 1400 AMSL to avoid CTA. as we go from the heads to Barwon Heads the cloud base dropped from the heavens, i have been on many flight with friends and can say i have never seen the cloud base drop so fast. we where scraping clouds at 1400 AMSL above Barwon Heads we decided to get to YGLG only a hop across a couple of padocks and the cloud and now rain was comming down to 600 AMSL so we called a forced landing on RWY 18 ( could have landed at Barwon but have heard they don't like any visitors)and landed. after we landed the rain came down for a good 30 minuted then stopped but the cloud base was 500 AMSL so flying out to YBLT was not an option. so here i am at home aircraft awaiting me to get her home into a warm bed of which i hope is tomorrow.


all in all the gazelle is a great little airplane and it is great to fly with the doors open...



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Guest Brett Campany

Good experience I can imagine! Get thrown out of the comfort zone with a few weather hitches, I think that way you get kind of forced to think logically and safely on how to deal with the situation at hand.


I reckon I would've done the same thing, always thinking of fuel and making sure I had enough.


Must have been an interesting trip! :thumb_up:



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Know how you feel, I'll bet you had a nervous time working out who was going to get to the strip first - you or the cloud.


I started a thread on 25/11 - "VMC" in the Weather section, but so far haven't had any takers, which is interesting because we lose 5 to 10 pilots a year due to flying into cloud, so it should be the No 1 safety topic.


What I'm interested in is how to develop techniques to get an earlier warning of circumstances similar to what you experienced.


The accident reports always usually run something like "the pilot was know to have pushed on in marginal conditions previously...the cause of the accident was continuing into non VMC conditions, terminating in a vertical dive into the ground."


So they state the obvious, which we would agree with, but don't give us unambiguous and easy to understand weather forecasts, or automatic forecast updates by radio enroute.


So step 1 is that we flight plan on a day or a weekend where the weather is likely to close in on us, or there is an unexpected deterioration after we have left our starting point.


Step 2 is that it is not easy to decide whether what we now face is the full extent of it, or whether its going to get even worse.


For example in your case, it just kept on getting worse, which caused several changes to plan, vs a situation I experienced where there was a constant cloud base, but misty rain which made naviation difficult. It stayed that way for the entire trip across Victoria, but in the days of full reporting CASA were tracking three of us in various parts of the state very carefully.


In my case it would have been less stressful to know that conditions would remain stable so I didn't have to look for every flat paddock over several hours.


I noticed on one thread recently a freshly Certificated pilot believing it was easy to reach each checkpoint exactly and to the minute, and of course we can all do that until the wind, turbulence and cloud conditions suddenly present us with a new experience.


I'd really like to hear from some experienced cross country pilots about the tips and criteria they use to decided when to park the plane, when its going to be safe to continue, at what point to do a 180 and get out of there!



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yep i think i can name a few factors that made me get into the situation.


after reading the AREAFOR ect TEMPO was for 1PM and the conditions we experienced.


after departing 1 hour late we decided to amend the flight plan as the weather looked a bit worse than expected, this, inexperience and the need for a fly are what caused my situation.


after reaching the heads the weather was clearing up and the decision was made to continue (the mistake) weather was good and way better the VMC. we get to tyabb and see the weather approaching from the NE. so we decide to head back the way we came. we almost made it. the weather came in fast.


i always kept my landing options open with airfields in sight.


as for being nervous,scared about the landing not at all just done what i was taught to do. before we arrived at the airfield and days before i was thinking to myself wow, me up there..... Er all that way and no one to ask questions ? but once rolling on 05 at ballarat all of my fears just disappeared. kept the map in front of me and eyes out the window.


what could i have done better.


not flown, not flown as far, kept an eye on time.


have i learnt a lesson, yep sure have when the sun is out i fly, when clouds are out i hangar fly.



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A very worthy post Adrian, :thumb_up: one that we can all learn from. 011_clap.gif.c796ec930025ef6b94efb6b089d30b16.gif Just one small point: Who cares If Barwon don't like visitors 031_loopy.gif.e6c12871a67563904dadc7a0d20945bf.gif :yuk:


- if you need to land, then land.







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Good point BigPete, the Pilot in Comand makes the decision.


There was a case a few years ago where a guy from Gippsland was caught by weather, tried several airports and in desperation finished up approaching Moorabbin.


The ATIS indicated Moorabbin Airport was closed, so he called the tower, advised them he had run out of alternatives and was now low on fuel and needed to land.


The Tower Controller, officious as they sometimes are, told him the Airport was closed and to go away.


What followed was a heated exchange with colorful language and frank opinions of each other.


This didn't move the Tower Controller, and I forget what happened next, but think the pilot flew away and luckily found another airstrip.


CASA publicly blasted both people for their behavior which could have led to a fatality, and finished with something like:


"If the Pilot had called a Mayday, the situation would have been clear and the Tower Controller would have been obligated to expedite an emergency landing"



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Yes, absolutley.. get on the ground.. don't stuff around..


When you say WE, who was the pax??..


A good example i reckon of how easy it is to get caught out.. I think a key line in your post is " we where scraping cloud at 1400 ft.. " we need to have 1000 ft vertical seperation from cloud. So the thought process could have been, " im pushing on and unable to remain clear of cloud, i have already seen the base drop like a stone, i need to get on the ground asap."


A good outcome in the end (thank god).. My problem is that your actions were reactionary, with wx deteriorating the way you described we really need to stay well infront of the game instead of letting the game force us down...


You did well, and obviously learned some valuable lessons...good job..:thumb_up:





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good point about Barwon, i was going to land there but new geelong was only 2 minutes away so opted for there, but kept the option for Barwon open for a 180 and landing.


i was speaking to 2 instructors at the geelong aero club and they said i could have made it back to geelong under VMC but to me VMC i being able to see the horizon :) .


a student departed for a nav to YLED and YBLT. i am sure if i kept flying i could have made it but i don't like the sound of that. i am sure Ian would have rather me land at an airfield than a paddock in IFR conditions.



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Australia is one of the countries where airports can be declared closed. CASA are correct to criticise BOTH parties, but it is a little trite to say "If a MAYDAY had been declared then the situation would have been clear". The situation was already clear, re. weather and the state of fuel. The declaration of a mayday would have covered a legal technicality it did would not change the physical situation at all. The tower should have asked the pilot if he was declaring an emergency. The pilot already has a critical situation to manage,


......... though, on another slightly different tack, why he would see moorabbin as a destination more suitable than others with less builtup areas around makes me think he wanted to get home rather than put the thing down as soon as possible. The tower probably saw this as an attempt to "twist" the rules, (unfortunately there are plenty of occasions where this is attempted.)....Nev..


PS. The post I was responding to seems to have gone missing. To Adrian,


You have your own limitations STICK TO THEM, especially if they are a little conservative at this stage. Do not let someone saying " Oh I got through, there was only a bit of rain at so & so and then it was OK", bother you. You should know the legal limits of VMC. They are the worst conditions that you can legally operate in, but you can justify a decission to take evasive action before you encounter the limits easily. You as PIC. decided that it would not be in the interests of safety to proceed. ( As Jim Davis says, I'd rather be a member of the live cowards club than.....) I'm not suggesting that you are in any way a coward, That is just the way that Jim makes his point. That he is still alive.. Nev..



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PAX was a friend of mine who is also beginning his Rec Certificate. he was amazed at how the cloud came in and was also amazed at how calm i was. in my opinion there is never any need to panic, i never do and never will, as for getting either violent or into heated discussions, i just don't do it. stress will take years off my life and those years can be used for flying, sex, drinking some beer and flying some more, (obviously not in that order).


I did declare an Forced landing Due to weather, which was (Geelong Area traffic Gazelle XXXX 2Nm to the west Joining Down wind RWY 18 geelong, forced landing due to weather unfamiliar geelong, geelong area trafic.)


after i landed the instructor said to me that declaring a forced landing was not necessary but i feel it was, it was definitely no mayday call but still the other ACFT in the area now new i was in trouble (for my ability) and i was doing a forced landing onto the RWY due to weather and i was unfamiliar with the airfield ? this is good information for other pilots as it would have given me leeway with CCT procedures if i had broken any (which i did over fly a house of which i was not suppose to) let other traffic know the WX was deteriorating and i was unfamiliar with the airfield so they could have kept and extra eye out for me.


all a good outcome, will i fly in bad WX again, yep in the CCT of the departure airfield thats it, if the cloud drops i can put the ACFT to bed and drive home not worry about the bits in between.


rang my instructor with the tail between the legs and asked for some advice on the WX as he is down that way and he said he is almost certain i will be able to get her home tonight as the cloud is only low over geelong and the rain is stopping. might be a hop from YGLG,YLED where i have hangarage for her then a Trip to YBLT if WX permits.


just feel guilty about leaving Ian's Gazelle out in the cold. Covered the prop and tied her down.



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Forced landing.


Adrian, I would have to agree with your instructor and you should listen to him. In aviation, specific terms have very narrow meanings and can trigger automatic responses. If you don't intend the response, then you must not use them. If you advise the circuit traffic that you are not familiar with the airport , that should alert them to be vigilant. Nev..



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Adrian , same difference, The good thing is that you are doing a post flight assessment, (self-debrief) and that is a very good thing. I have done this all my flying life, and the more intense and dangerous experiences are always with me. To get the maximum benefit, utter honesty with one'self is required. A difficult ask sometimes, but essential. My comments are meant to be constructive, and are to all readers of this forum, as it is public...Nev



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Hi Adrian. Don't know how Barwon Heads got that reputation. I am hangered there & have been for the past 8 years. The owner (& CFI) Barbara has no problems with any one dropping in as far as I am aware. Many of my friends have flown in from other strips & been made welcome. Don't believe everything you hear, come & see us some time.





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Hi pete, i have had a couple of pilots tell me the co-owner parked a caravan on the strip and all sorts of stories about people not welcome so i just done the right thing and steered clear, but having said that i heard tyabb was a XXXXe hole and people there where rude ect, i dropped in un announced yesterday completed a couple of CCTS, drank there coffee pinched some fuel and all i got was smiles and a please come back soon ? go figure...


I think i might be in the Area in a few days (maybe Friday or Saturday) picking up a lonely Gazelle 049_sad.gif.af5e5c0993af131d9c5bfe880fbbc2a0.gif .



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Like most places requiring prior permission - if you plan to go there and don't ring first then you're likely to get a terse greeting from the CFI or owner. On the other hand, they understand that pilots need to go somewhere in bad weather so I'm sure you'd be most welcome.


Years and years ago I was returning to Moorabbin from the north. Weather deteriorating and marginal VMC (low cloud and drizzle) by the time I got to Sugarloaf - not far to go to Moorabbin so tempting to keep going - I turned back to Whittlesea which had a similar reputation back then. Most welcome.


Friend in another aeroplane continued on - he was in a 182 while I was in an open cockpit biplane so a different perspective. While I waited for a few hours I heard on the radio about an aeroplane going down just past Ringwood (from memory). Was some-one else - my friend got back OK. Weather was bad enough without having an engine failure too - but that guy got out of it OK too.



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Good on you Adrian, you found yourself in a difficult situation with limitted experience and you made appropriate decisions and you and the aircraft are safe!


We learn every day and I am sure your future navs will be even better for the experience, and more importantly you have shared this with us that we all can learn from it.


Take care





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Great Job easy to get into situations like that , but bugger who like's visitors or whatever, you come first every time, i can remember being held overnight in Horsham due to weather, having a very important court case to attend in the morning in Adelaide, the Police prosecutor phoned me with all sorts of threats about not being there as a witness for the crown and that the Judge would impose penalties ect, i informed him to tell the Judge whilst in command of an Aircraft a pilot in command out ranks him, your decision for safe ops will always stand and be supported. you done well and made good decisions Adrian nothing worse than weather like that, it's hard work for all of us, good sence chucking the fuel in when you can, good on you cheers 011_clap.gif.c796ec930025ef6b94efb6b089d30b16.gif



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