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Kategorie: Navigation



I bought a text book in order to prepare for the CVFR rating. I have always loved good text books. I know, that’s a bit weird, but I like to follow a well organized stream of thoughts on a specific topic.

CVFR is a very specific topic. Controlled Visual Flight Rule is a part of the qualifications of a private pilot. The rating will enable me to fly in controlled airspace and with guidance by ATC.

The big thing about CVFR however, is learning to make better use of the instruments and to use radio navigation.

VOR stations are the back bone of radio navigation. VOR is short for “VHF omnidirectional radio range”. The idea is very close to the idea of a light house. The VOR indicator in the cockpit shows me the bearing to the VOR station.

The VOR stations are marked on my aviation map. If I know That my relative bearing to the station is 090, I know that it is at 90° to the right. So I know that if I draw a line at 90° from the staion, my position would be somewhere on this line (called a radial, by the way).

This information alone is enough to get a pretty good idea about my position if combined with other VFR navigation skills (“this looks like the lake on the map”). At night or above the clouds however, I would need a second VOR station in order to do a triangulation. If I know that I am on radial 90° of station A and radial 200° of station B, I can draw two lines on my map and the point at which they meet is going to be my position.

Still with me? Great!

I have been taught to use the VOR from my first lesson for the private pilot on. My instructor knew that I was going to go for the CVFR rating eventually.

Today he means it. The flight preparation today is longer than usual. We have a very detailed flight plan. Up to the north and climbing up into the controlled air space over the city. Then a flight from the VOR in Löwenberg, via Tegel Airport to the VOR in Fürstenwalte. North to south over the big city.

I call ATC after take-off and anounce our big plan. After a bit they call back with bad news. The weather is bad, the airspace is full and they don’t need a green horn who needs extra attention. No clearance for me today.

Plan B is to clear the controlled airspace to the north and then climb to 7.500 feet and do our drills there. The day is rainy and other small aircraft ask for advice and divert right and left. My instructor is not impressed by a bit of rain on the screen and before long we are above the grey clouds. I close the vent as the stream of outside air is getting quite cold. The instructor hands me the IFR cap “Put this on”.

An IFR cap is a plastic visor that blocks the view to the outside. After I put it on, I can only see the instruments. What a difference!

Steady as she goes

The first task at hand is to hold course and altitude. The air up here is calm but I still need a lot of concentration for the task. After a bit, the instructor tells me to start going right and left, 10 degrees from the course. After this works, he pulls the flaps lever. Kilo Sierra slows down because of the added drag and climbs at the same time because of the increase in lift. I counter the movement and fight to keep the altitude.

Radio Navigation

The instructor seems to believe that I will not fall out of the sky. So we start with navigation. He tells me to fly to the Fürstenwalde VOR station. We had set the frequency before, so all I have to do now is turn the bearing indicator of the VOR receiver until the course deviation indicator is in the middle and the direction flag shows “To”.

The bearing to the station is 179, so I turn right onto the new course. After a few minutes, the instructor tells me to sink. We go down to 5.500 feet, 3.500 feet, then 2.000 feet. Finally I contact Strausberg and ask for QDM. That is the magnetic heading to the station. The controller on the tower can determine my relative bearing to him.

The heading to the airport is 250. So I turn right until I have 250 locked and ask again. 260 now. The runway is 270, so we are getting very close. The instructor tells me to sink to 1.000 feet and take off the cap. The runway is directly in front of me, I am on long final – wow!

After we are back on the ground and done with the de-briefing, I walk to the train station. There is a light drizzle and I enjoy the rain on my face. My head is pounding from the concentration, I’m exhausted but I feel great nontheless.

To be continued…


(originally posted on October 7, 2012 by tilbo at

Passenger rating – this time for real!

Passenger rating – this time for real!

It’s official, stamp and all – I can carry passengers now. My last flight to Eisenhüttenstadt was good enough for the lady at the aviation administration and she mailed an updated licese to me.

So if you don’t want to come fly with me, now would be a good time to come up with excuses!

To be continued…


(originally posted on July 15, 2011 by tilbo at

Steel – Bread – Peace

Steel – Bread – Peace

Visibility: about 50 km
Temperature: 27°C
QNH: 1011hPa
Location: EDAE (Eisenhüttenstadt)
Equipment: MD3 Rider (D-MALJ)

I took a quick trip to Eisenhüttenstadt today. It turns out that the lady at the aviation administration disagrees with my flight instructor over the requirements for my passenger rating. She is asking for one more trip of more than 50 km.

Eisenhüttenstadt is 62 kilometres according to my flight plan. Also it is an airport I had not been to and today was a gorgeous day for flying after a week of rain!

The city of Eisenhüttenstadt was founded in 1950 as a socialist model city around a steel mill. Today, former “Stalinstadt” is a strange melting pot of socialistic glorification of heavy industry and modern high tech. (üttenstadt)

To be continued…


(originally posted on July 6, 2011 by tilbo at

Passenger rating

Passenger rating

Visibility: about 20 km
Temperature: 26°C
QNH: 1013hPa
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: MD3 Rider (D-MALJ)

I did the first addition to my pilot’s license – the passenger rating. With the sports pilots license, I can only fly on my own or with another pilot. Before I can take passengers, I have to fly solo to three different airports and I have to fly two trips of more than 200 km and a stop over each with a flight instructor.

We have decided to fly up to the coast today. The island of Rügen is the right distance from Strausberg and it is a nice trip. It is a warm day, the fuel tanks are full and with the flight instructor and myself on board, Lima Juliet is working hard as she climbs out of Strausberg.

The passenger rating is a great idea. It gives a new pilot like myself the possibility to get used to handling the aircraft without the reassuring presence of a flight instructor. After each of my solo flights, I came back with home work. I read the rules for the air spaces again and brushed-up on my radio communication. I learned how to fuel the aircraft and how to check the other engine fluids.

The weather is calm and although we don’t have great visibility, flying is pleasant. The instructor and I are chatting about the weather conditions and he confirms my navigation and gives me helpful tips.

The airport at Rügen is very proper and not very busy. We have fish for lunch and watch a tired Cessna take off with a group of tourists.

After the break we take the long way home. Out onto the sea and along the coast of the island. First along Prora, the Nazi vaccation home which at one point was the largest building in he world. Then further up to the tip of Rügen with its white cliffs like in Dover. Over to the western side and back along the neighboring island of Hiddensee – a glorified sand bank, really.

In the distance the city of Stralsund appears with the Rügendamm bridge to the island, its historic port and and the post-war industrial complex that is the Volkswerft ship yard. The size of the container vessels build there has increased
inversely proportional to the number of workers needed to build them or sailors to sail them.

From Stralsund on we follow the A20 highway back to our course line home. There is a pretty boring stretch ahead of us with not a lot of visual reference to navigate by except for the curvy concrete band of the interstate. As I look over to the flight instructor, I can’t help but smile. He is asleep in his seat. It does not look like he is fearing for his life.

To be continued…



(originally posted on June 22, 2011 by tilbo at

Map day

Map day

It was map day at the flight school a few days ago. Every year the new aviation maps come out. After they are released, the old ones become void. The flight school usually has an order sheet for the new maps out and orders them collectively.

There are eight different maps for Germany. I ordered three – Berlin, Rostock (north of Berlin to the Baltic sea coast) and Hamburg (north west of Berlin with the North sea coast). So this is the area I’m planning to take on for this season.

To be continued…


(originally posted on June 9, 2011 by tilbo at