Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I finally went up and did my flight to Ottawa International (YOW) the other week. Bad weather had delayed it all; my instructor even said that had the weather not been adverse I'd be solo by now. I'm coming up to that soon.

The video itself is quite self-explanatory. We fly up and over Gatineau, change coarse towards Ottawa, and cross over via a "checkpoint" which is the airspace above the Champlain bridge. The rest of the video is the circuit for runway 22.

My instructor was going to ask for clearance to land/take off on RWY 14/32 or 25/07 (the two main runways) but they were too busy with air traffic at the time. That was alright. The point was that I got to the airport at all, even if it was just touch-and-gos on the minor 22/04. Than runway is primarily used by light aircraft usually flown by the Ottawa Flying Club.

I narrated the video because it was easier explaining the process verbally than trying to fit subtitles in as I'd done with other videos, and I think I may narrate them from now on.

I do want to explain a couple of things in more depth here than I could in the video, however. Landing, for example. The process is called a 'flare out' because the plane has to settle back onto the ground. That's why I pitch the nose up near the end: It reduces speed and allows the plane to settle down on its two rear wheels, and gently. Keeping it level would cause the plane to bounce off the ground due to a hard impact.

I also never mention flaps. Right before we begin the turn for the base leg, 10 degrees of flap is added, and by the time we land we have 20 degrees or more. Flaps reduce airspeed but also add lift, as the plane is slowing down over the course of the last two legs of the circuit.

The circuit itself is a rectangle that includes the runway. Take off is the departure leg; crosswind brings you to the right or left of the runway, and downwind takes you directly opposite the direction you took off in, so you're parallel to the runway in the opposite direction. Base is the opposite of crosswind, and final is the direct entry towards the threshold of the runway on which you took off, in the same direction. I kind of wish I had my phone's tracking app on during the flight, as it would show my inaccurate oval of a circuit as shown in the final sped-up part of the video. Circuits for runway 22 are right-handed (circuits are normally left-hand turns) because in this case you'd be flying over the airfield and airport, and circuits are laid out the way they are to avoid having air traffic directly over the terminal buildings (though it is important to note that as a controlled, towered airport, if ATC wants a left-hand circuit, their directions take priority over this general rule).

I also mention the checkpoint and VFR. I should have pointed out that "VFR" means "Visual Flight Rules." All pilots navigating by visual landmarks and not entirely or largely by their instruments (IFR). There are radio checkpoints all over the region, all depicted on VTA & VNA charts of the area. To land at YOW, there is a VFR 'route' on the map that shows all VFR traffic must make a radio call at the Champlain bridge and then head in from there to the airport. VFR & IFR traffic follow different rules on many respects in aviation.

The flight was very good, and afterwards I managed to capture a few aerial photos. The icing on the cake was the positioning of the circuit: The downwind leg is directly over the Merivale Industrial District, as well as Mooney's Bay and Carleton Heights, so I got to see a lot of good recognizable landmarks of my old neighbourhood and area, My instructor had to remind me to 'keep flying' at one point instead of staring out the window. It was great to see many things I'd only imagined for so long.

Solo is coming up soon...that'll be a big milestone.

Red Cloud

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