Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NDB Practice

The NDB was killing me for a while. I was getting really confused with "turn to this inbound bearing", "turn to this outbound bearing"... but I had a couple epiphanies. If I can just visualize my route relative to the navaid, like a moving map in my head, it all makes sense. The only thing I still can find a bit confusing is which way to turn to intercept outbound sometimes... but as soon as I blow through it I realize what I need to do and if I turn to the heading and think for a second I can usually get it without wandering all about.

It's weird, but with a moving card ADF, I don't really see any reason to adjust it. In fact, it would work just fine without any numbers on the face wouldn't it? I've read a bunch of detailed explanations, but it really comes down to just mentally superimposing the DG on the ADF and seeing how far off you are. And remembering that the head will always fall, which I do by thinking that I'm always flying past the NDB - that is it will go by on one side or the other.

One thing that was a real "Aha" moment and a little embarrassing really, was during the procedure turn inbound it suddenly dawned on me why the procedure turn angles were always so.... uh, odd. I mean why not turn to some easy to remember number? Like 45 degrees instead 43? So I'm turning inbound to the intercept and talking... "OK we're turning to 213 to intercept the 168..." and I suddenly realize that the inbound course is under the 45 degree mark on the ADF.... duh. So I point at the ADF and blurt out "Hey, THAT's why the numbers are like that!"

My Instructor was polite enough NOT to laugh :-) Probably because she was so shocked at how dense I was... lol.

I can't see outside so my Instructor does all the traffic avoidance. While we were doing the NDB's Center kept telling us about fighters inbound to Elmendorf and C-130s that were just flying around trying to ram us, I think. So I told my Instructor, "Don't worry too much about all this traffic, if they get too close we'll hear crunching sounds." But I really don't like not being able to look when they're close. One C-130 was close, at our altitude and headed towards us when shortly after we flew under a cloud... I braced for the bump and said "OK, what the HELL was that!". :-)

The simulator is real handy for NDB practice, particularly figuring out intercepts. And I was on FS2004 flying the NDB into Venice, FL (near my 'winter home') and learned another good thing: I've been flying outbound 2 minutes to the procedure turn at 90-100 mph which is working pretty good. But, if the NDB is the missed approach point and is on or very near the field you have to get down fast to make it. You start down the final approach from two minutes out and have 2000 feet to lose so the decent rate is a little higher than I like and if you have drifted closer or sped up in the dive it's even worse. Making the procedure turn away from the airport helps a bit, but it looks like it's going to be enough just to know you'll need to expedite the descent.

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