Exercise 18 Exit & Entry Point Navigation
AIM To establish exit and entry points to and from departure and destination airfields.
T o minimise the workload during an airfield exit and an airfield entry making the task simpler and safer
The chosen route is Sleap to Wolverhampton (Halfpenny Green). It would be very easy to just draw a straight line on the chart and fly directly to both airfields. Many years ago I developed what I call:
Exit & Entry point cross country flying
This enables students to fly a more accurate and relaxing cross country with more attention given to lookout and airfield procedures.
In the 70s and 80s I developed a style of navigating I called ‘exit and entry point naviagtion’, mainly because of problems I noticed students having in the Elstree and Shobdon areas. Shobdon in particular seemed to be difficult for students to find due to the position it is sited in and its narrow footprint with only one runway and its clubhouse, tower and hangar being situated together and blending into the surroundings extremely well. I also felt that the old Tiger Moth instructor habit of climbing into the overhead to set course was so wasteful of fuel, created a extra traffic hazard and was just plain unessecarry and outdated (like many other procedures and myth’s that are relics from the 50s).
My students were briefed to use Leominster as an exit & entry point mainly because they could all find Leominster every time and if they couldn’t it was time to give up! All of a sudden all my students had no trouble at all in locating the field and even I found it easier! The basis of this is that the closer together your last known accurate fix of position is to the next one the more accurate your going to be at the next fix, its just common sense really
So my routing will be, Sleap – Shrewsbury (exit point) to Bridgnorth (entry point) – Halfpenny Green
Having an exit point means after take off means all we have to do is fly to that exit point, it doesn’t matter what runway we take off on or how we change our routing in the ATZ, our cross country starts at the exit point. Hopefully you will have used this exit point several times before so will know it and how to get to it by this stage anyway. So many students forget to start their watches at airborne too (not something you really want to be doing on take off anyway) but with an exit point you start the watch there and that makes it so much easier! You also know you are starting your cross country bang on track.
An exit or entry point ideally is a prominent point (town etc) about 6 nautical miles away from the airfield. By the time you get to your exit point you should be at your selected en route altitude too. Some instructors teach climbing to overhead the airfield and then set course. I think this is rather out of date and a pointless exercise which is also a waste of time and money. Of course at some airfields this is not possible anyway so what are you going to do then? Getting away from the area of where you are most likely to conflict with other traffic, Eg the circuit and ATZ, makes sense too, so why spend 5 minutes pointlessly climbing in it? There you are you see, I’ve just saved you £10 to £15 at each airfield!
OK, now entry points. When you fly Sleap – Halfpenny Green youre goal will be getting to Halfpenny Green, my goal will be getting to Bridgnorth and the next goal is then getting to HG. I know if I can find Bridgnorth Ive cracked it! Nothing is as worse as to be still map reading and sailing through the ATZ amongst other circuit traffic, which I have seen happen many times. Its far more relaxing to get to a known point away from the circuit, put the map down and just point and fly to the airfield. Having an entry point means our cross country has ended there and you’re going to be very unlucky if you cannot fly to or even see the airfield from 6 miles away! We also have a good point to announce our arrival from over the radio.
You can also, if you are not sure of something, orbit your entry point. Perhaps you couldn’t get a radio call in on time. perhaps you just want to orientate yourself in regard to which runway you will land on and how you will approach. Use your entry point like a hold, to buy time. Again its far better to hold and circle rather than arriving into the middle of a busy circuit still requesting joining instructions! It also helps if you ever get that dreaded call from ATC, ” remain clear of the ATZ at this time”.
There is of course nothing to stop you routing from the entry point to overhead the airfield. I have no problem with that, indeed if you feel unsure about an airfield, perhaps it has a complicated array of runways, or a very busy circuit, by all means join overhead and take your time, nothing to stop you orbiting in the overhead till you are ready to commence descent but remember all turns to the direction of circuit and keep a very good lookout. Of course sometimes ATC may instruct you to join overhead (AFIS or A/G cannot instruct you to do anything).
Just one final point, even if its ATC, you are VFR and that means you are responsible for separating yourself from other traffic so keep a very good LOOKOUT!
All in all exit and entry point navigation makes cross country safer and easier I believe-give it a try!