Welcome back!

First off: We’re going to AERO next week!! We’ll be in Foyer Ost, as usual, bringing along something extra special: Our first animated short film! We’ll be getting it ready just in time. So, if you’re going, be sure to stop by our table and say hi!

Okay, on to today’s strip … so who all in the coop here admits to having been lost in the air at one time or another?

It’s a quite unsettling feeling actually. I have never been so lost that I needed help but I have … let’s say … been “temporarily unsure of my location” before. Of course since the rise of smart phone technology and navigation apps, there should be less and less of an excuse for being lost I think. Back in the days of paper maps, the chances of you following the wrong river or highway were a lot higher.

When I was a young lad learning how to fly helicopters in California pre GPS, one of the toughest things for me was getting used to navigating around Los Angeles. I’d write down all the freeway numbers, plan out my flights, pre-fold the map so I don’t struggle in the air, etc. I thought I was prepared. Then, when I called the tower, he’d say “just follow the Santa Ana Freeway!”. Great, was that the 5, or the 101, or the 405, or all three? And if you get them wrong you end up in the wrong airspace which there is plenty of in LA. I muddled and faked my way through and made it home safe and sound.

On the next flight, I thought I prepare myself even better and this time I wrote down the name of the freeways. There was the Ventura Freeway, then the Hollywood Freeway, the Harbor Freeway, and so forth. Well, wouldn’t you know it? The next tower instructed me to “follow the 110 southbound at 800 feet or below”. There was no winning until you knew not only the number but also the name of each freeway. Nowadays you just zoom in or switch to the street map on your iPad. But because I had to learn all this the old fashion way, I remember most of it to this day even though I haven’t flown in LA for almost a decade now.

Chuck, for some reason, still manages to get himself lost even though he has a lot of technology available to him. It could be that he doesn’t know to work it properly, or is overloaded with too much technology since he’s a geek that way, we might never know. Or it could be simply to provide us with more material. Like I said, it might remain forever a mystery …

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4 comments on “Welcome back!
  1. Harro says:

    Tell me about it! I got lost on my first long cross-country flight, I had 20 or so flight hours. I didn’t check in with the FIS, I was too ashamed to admit I am lost and ask for help. Eventually I found my way again but since that flight the FIS is my best friend. Nonetheless depending on the countryside, day and night and situation it can get confusing up there. We flew from Hannover to Hamburg at night a few weeks back – NVFR training. The freeways south of Hamburg at night are quite challenging even though we had a Garmin G1000. L.A. though, must be a whole different ballgame altogether. To make it short, I was glad when we touched down at HH-Fuhlb├╝ttel and finally shut down the engine.

  2. Rwill says:

    I was working on the auto-pilot of an older Mooney in the air, so I was down under the panel most of the time. With our flight instructor keeping an eye out. When I finished, I said let’s go home, where are we. He replied he didn’t know he wasn’t paying attention to that. He was new to the area, which is all flat farmland, so just looking out the window doesn’t help. Our airport had a VOR station on it, and it’s on a peninsula, so only in one direction will you not hit water. So I tuned the VOR in and started following it, for far too long. Until I realized it was an older VOR head where forward is on the bottom and not the top, so I had been flying away from the field instead of towards it.

  3. TG McCoy says:

    On a solo cross country in the Willamette valley, I got lost. now the whole place is dotted with little airports. so I found one that appeared to be public use,and landed .
    Walked into the office and there sat smoking a cigarette,was my instructor..

  4. ThisGuy says:

    There is a reason for the first C of the 5c’s:
    Confess, climb, conserve fuel, communicate and comply.

    Confess you are lost. Admit it. There is no shame. We’ve all been there. And if asking for a freeway number or name is required to keep you on track, just ask! Better to lose 10 seconds with: “Tower, Charley Whiskey, is that the 405 or the 101?” than annoy them by flying in the wrong direction. Believe it or not, there’s an actual person on the other end of that radio. They’d much rather see you fly home safe than misunderstand an instruction.

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