Sunday, January 28, 2007

$100 hamburgers rule!! oh, and GPS kicks butt.

Today I took the wife up for her first small airplane ride. We flew to a small airport about 52 miles from my home general aviation airport. I had a lot of fun. It had been several years since I did a trip "to" anywhere, and BOY, has general aviation changed.

When I did my flight training navigation was done with your compass, NDBs and, the almighty VOR. The wind triangle was your best friend and if you did not figure your true airspeed correctly, you were SOL, your Wind Correction Angle would be blown, and off course you went.
It really put me off anything other than local flights, unless I put in several hours of ground work ahead of time.

So I picked an airport not very far away with plenty of visual check points along the way so that I could make sure we were on course, regardless of the wind. I practiced my wind triangle problems so that on flight day I could get the winds aloft forecast and do my calculations quickly and accurately. I filled out my preflight work sheet just like a good pilot should.
Flight day rolled around and about a half hour before takeoff I got my winds aloft forecast and did my problems. We were good to go.

The aircraft we were flying in was a 1966 Cessna 172. Personally, I love the older 172s. They have that big 6 cylinder Continental power plants with those huge wings. The '60 version is not as good as the late '50s version though... I really like the big wing of the '55 - '60 version. I have never flown a more stable aircraft. But I digress.

This particular aircraft had a GPS installed in it. I had never really played around with a GPS before. I knew that they took a lot of guess work out of navigation, but how cool could they be? Very very very very cool as it turns out. Not only did it tell me my true heading, but it told me the bearing that I needed to follow, even the direction that I needed to track according to my true ground speed! It turns out that I did all of my prep work for nothing. Not really nothing, I enjoyed doing the problems, but it felt very good not to have to worry that maybe I had miss-calculated something. The GPS took all of the guess work out of the flight!
I think am going to buy my self a hand held GPS with moving map. That way I won't wander in to any Class C, or B airspaces unawares.

Anyway, the wife seemed to like the flight, she flew most of the way, and had fun trying to keep on course and on altitude. She said that she things that she will let me do the take offs and landings for now, but the middle part is hers. I think I am OK with that.

No comments: