Flying yesterday went spectacularly, especially for a three hour lesson!

My FI and I did a ground brief for an hour on diversions. We decided to see if there was a plane available for 7pm – there was! So we headed up to practice what we talked about.

It was a beautiful evening. Smooth as a baby’s bum, and only a few tiny clouds. The sunset really was amazing. I can see why a lot of people say getting your night rating is so awesome.

The exercise went extremely well. We did three diversions. The first one was from Claremont to Sunderland. My FI flew the plane while I planned everything. You have to figure out the following info as part of your diversion.. all the while flying over your starting point.

– Time



– Distance

– Heading



– Fuel

– Notify FSS

There are a few rules of thumb you can use to figure out time and distance. Before we started our flight we figured out how “long” my thumb is in nautical miles (it happens to be 9nm on a VNC). So after I marked the track on the map I measured it with my thumb. Then using the “rule of thirds” I calculated how long it would take to fly the track. At 90KIAS you travel 1.5nm / min… which works out to be 6 min for each “thumb-length”. Convenient for me…

In order to calculate your MEF, take a look at the MEF figure for the quadrangle where your track is in (on the map). That figure is the highest point in the quadrangle. Just add 1000′ for your MOCA. As long as your altitude is above the MOCA, then you wont fly into any terrain.

This was the easiest diversion. The next one my FI reduced our altitude (so you can see less) and made me do all the work and fly the plane at the same time. It’s important that you don’t keep your head down too long, do something then peek outside. having the plane trimmed is extremely important here. This diversion was from Sunderland to Zephyr. We passed right over the Simcoe VOR.

What a VOR looks like from above (thanks to Google Earth)

The last one was from Zephyr to Newmarket… This was the worst of them all. I must have miscalculated the wind direction for my heading and was off by quite a bit. The good thing though is that the visibility was good enough that I could just visually alter course.

By this point in the flight the sun was low enough that some of the street lights on the ground were on. Bright up at 3000 feet, not so on the ground. The light level was annoying enough to be too dark with my sunglasses on, but too bright with them off.

My FI wanted me to do a soft field with obstacle landing. Once again I just skimmed the top of the “imaginary” trees. Next solo lesson I’m going to practice some obstacle landings before heading to the north for some air work practice.

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