The weather on day three took a bit of a turn for the worse: the wind picked up and the clouds came in low. This meant it was a good day to get in some practice force landings and low-level navigation.
The low-level navigation was interesting. I lost all of my normal bearings and quickly lost track of where I was. I would continually refer to the Avadine navigation system in the plane to get my bearings. Low-level navigation is important because I might find myself in a situation with a decreasing cloud base and I will need to be able to find my way back home at a lower height.
If the cloud base does come in too low I will might need to make a planned forced landing. This would be a landing into a field that I have had a good look at and am sure is safe to land in. We practiced this procedure a number of times. I would look for a field, fly a number of circuits, gradually getting lower so that I can see the surface and then fly my final approach as if I were going to make a landing.
The exercise was eye opening; trying to pick a field to land in was difficult! There are ploughed fields, fields with trees in them, fields with power lines through them and sloped hills. I’ll have to get a lot of practice in with this to make sure if I ever get myself in this position then I should be able to handle it.
We had spent a lot of this lesson flying just above Goodwood so we skirted back to Thorney Island and flew along the coast at 500ft. It was a very different view to the 2000ft I would normally be at!
When we got back we had a quick debrief and decided I would get in some more time flying circuits. I went up and got practiced some landings in very strong headwind conditions. When I landed I found a selection of three Vans aircraft had shown up!
After day three I of flying my confidence had really picked up. Just in time to be told I would be doing my first solo nav exercise!