Friday, 23 January 2009

All the Way Home

Apart from a joy-ride with Neill when I was up at Sackville a few weeks ago, it is ages since I have been able to fly - because of the terrible weather. Neill was right about cramming as much flying into December as possible because bad weather was coming. I flew loads - something like eleven hours in my Dragonfly - and now I am desperate not to get rusty, though, encouragingly, the short flight in Neill's Quantum went well.

I really should be getting Met and Nav out of the way, but I have been idle. In fact, not having the intensity of the 6a.m. starts, the late evening two hour or three hour drives home or the nights in B&B and the hours of flying or ground school or even just watching and waiting at Sywell Aerodrome for the wind to drop, has left me feeling a little lost; unable to settle down and do anything else.

Last time I was at Sywell Paul Dewhurst lent me a Garmin Etrex, a handheld GPS system, generally used by walkers. I wouldn't be able to use anything like this in my cross-country qualifiers, but trying Paul's has convinced me that it would be great to have one with me afterwards. I want to be good at dead reckoning, so I'd never want to be dependent on GPS, but the Etrex has one function that is very useful. It points home! (or to any other location you have programmed into it.) You don't even have to know your grid reference to use it. You can just get it to read where it is when you set out, save that in its memory, then when you are out in the middle of nowhere, tell the Etrex you want to go there and it will point home.

I haven't tried anything more complex on it than that, and I am not sure I want to. I have taught it where I live and got it to take me home from school the other day and it did the job (though the arrow points as the crow flies and of course I had to go off track to get there...but that is no problem in the air. Just as well, because when I flew with Neill last time, I really lost my bearings; everything looks so different up there. It would have been great to have an arrow pointing home.

No comments: