Leaving the circuit – Flying solo can be tricky enough but then you have to navigate too!
After mastering solo circuits, it was time to venture out by myself into the training area. This might seem quite straight forward, however from the air, everything looks different! Luckily for me, the area that I was training in had some gas pipelines that could be followed into and out of the training area, which for me was my lifeline.
I started by sticking like glue to the pipelines and little by little, once I was confident, I would venture further and further away from them until they weren’t in sight at all. My instructor would then give me landmarks in the training area to go and find. One of those landmarks was a house that had a swimming pool in the shape of the map of Australia. I remember being so proud of myself when I eventually found it!
After doing a number of solo hours in the training area, it was time to start my navigation flights. I think I was actually more nervous doing my solo navigation flights than I was going solo for the first time. My navigation training started with doing the navigation route a couple of times with my instructor, before attempting the routes by myself. This is where the navigation theory really comes into play as you have to make sure your planning is done precisely so that you know exactly where you’re going and of course, how to get back!
Luckily for me, I didn’t get lost and made it back safely each time! I found the more I did, the easier it became and eventually, I knew all the routes and could fly them confidently. I think the most important thing to remember when you’re out there flying solo is that if you’re unsure about anything, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help. Everyone has been in the same position before during their training and most people are more than happy to help.