Friday, 19 September 2008

True Virgins Make Dull Companions

I have a new toy, which Neill has been showing me how to use when doing all kinds of navigational calculations. He swears by it, as does Paul Dewhurst, the CFI, who also happens to have just retained his World Champion status in the internationals in Poland, where accurate navigation is paramount. Surprisingly, though, the others who were around at Flylight when Neill showed me how the "whizzywheel" works, were baffled by it.

The whizzywheel, as I have always called them (though this may be a competitor's tradename) is a circular slide-rule which can be used to calculate airspeeds, fuel consumption, wind drift, true altitude, density altitude etc. It has a wind triangle computer on the back. Initially it looks complicated, but Neill advised me not to try to memorise the functions but just decide what I want to work out, then follow the clear instructions in the handbook. It speeds up calculating a lot and if you have to make a lot of calculations using the same variables, you don't have to do a series of separate calculations; instead you just read off a series of outcomes dependent on the third variable.....and even that sounds like I am over-complicating things. Being able to use it is encouraging when you consider that at school I only ever managed to use my slide-rule as a retractable dagger!

Paul got his out and we compared them. He says that he amazed some other pilots by racing to do calculations. He had completed his calculations before the others had even finished in-putting numbers into their pocket calculators....and the great thing is that a whizzywheel never runs out of batteries.

True Virgins Make Dull Companions (or Tele Vision Makes Dull Children) is the mnemonic for calculating your compass bearing, taken from your Track, Variation (+/- Xdegrees) =Magnetic, +/- the Deviation, =Compass. Sounds hard but in practice it is incredibly simple.

Dreading meteorology though.

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