Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lost & Found

I normally do not need a reason or destination to jump in the airplane and go flying. I am happy flying nowhere on a local flight and just enjoying the fact that I am above ground looking down at the scenery passing under my wings.
But for this winter, I actually had both the reasons and destinations, plural. I wanted to a) get to know my new local area better, and b) get myself familiar with the typical glider x-country routes so that when I actually fly them in the glider, I do not feel lost.
So on my next flight I was planing to fly over Milton, detour over Glen Eden ski hill and then head for the training area for this school, which happens to be right over my glider club. This would be the "get to know your area" type of flight.
The flight was booked for 4pm, but it took a while to get the plane ready and I did not take off till 4:30pm. As I circled over my subdivision in Milton and headed west, the sun was low on a horizon and shining straight into my eyes.

I was flying south of 401 in the direction that should have taken me somewhat near my glider field. One of the most easily identifiable landmarks that is used both by the flight school and my club is "the tanks" - a collection of while tanks that really stand out from the darker background and thus are visible from a great distance. Except in the winter when everything around the tanks is also white!
I did bring my GPS on that flight but it was sitting in my bag as i did not think i could possibly get lost so near my gliding club. And I was not really lost as I could see both Hamilton and Cambridge, so I knew my approximate location, but where I was exactly I could not tell. I decided to get my GPS to find out for sure. As i settled the unit on the panel, it told me I was right over Rockton.
I looked and sure enough, right under my left wing was the glider airfield! Having seen the familiar landmark, all the other landscape features fell into place in my brain as if by magic and I did a few circles over the field finding all the other landmarks that only a few minutes ago Iwas not seeing. I even saw the tanks. Funny how that happens.
I flew for a bit heading west of the field until weather started closing in with ceilings dropping North and West of me. I was also getting quite cold as the plane was quite drafty and temp outside was -15C. So I turned around and headed for Milton. I was pretty sure I knew where the field was, but dialed it on a GPS just in case. I was almost on top of the field when I finally saw it. My circuit and landing were uneventful. Next weekend it was -25C and I did not want to get out of the house...

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