In todays Lesson, we planned for the KDAN (Danville Virginia) VOR 20 approach and then back to TTA for the RNAV 21 approach.  This lesson contained a healthy amount of VOR tracking to DAN and some partial panel on the return.

Once I arrived, my instructor confirmed the weather and said we were all good for the KDAN trip.  Once preflight was complete, we did our run up and this time I made sure all of the radios were set for navigation.  This entailed dialing in the KDAN VOR and RAL VOR initially with the SBV (South Boston) VOR for once we got closer to our destination.

We departed KTTA and I was given a mock vector and altitude of 4500′ and cleared direct DAN, with a confirmirmation once established on course.  Once I reached 1800′ I called up Raleigh approach for the flight following and this is where the wheels fell off.  I have never had much of an issue making a call for flight following but my tongue decided to throw me a curve.

Once given the squawk code, I established myself on the KDAN VOR.  “53587 established on course to DAN”.   “Are you sure that you are established?”  Um… well… uh.  At that point I got the hint that I needed to verify the VOR audibly.  Doh.  Ok.  Next my instructor asked me to let him know when the old Chapel hill Airfield would be at our 2 o’clock.  Ok, let’s see.  I have the Raleigh VOR and if I set it up for the 279 radial, when we are on that radial, the airfield should be at our 2 o’clock… easy peasy?  “Are you sure?” Oh doh!, verify the RAL VOR. At this point, I told him that if I was smart I would have verified the RAL VOR after I verified the the DAN VOR.

A lot of this is just getting into the habit and it will come with time.  The important part here is that I was not overloaded and I was able to use the 2 VOR’s effectively to figure how where we were.

I was asked a few times to report where on the track we were currently and I did this by using the secondary VOR.  When I switched over to use the SBV VOR as we neared Danville.. I verified the VOR audibly… YAY!!!!!

I briefed the approach and we got the ASOS at DAN.  Raleigh Approach released us and my instructor said “About 10 miles out we will start making radio calls”.  This was the cue to figure out how to tell if we are 10 miles out.  Easy peasy, find the spot on our track that is 10 nm’s out and then get the radial to the SBV VOR and dial that in.  Once the VOR Centers, Robert’s your mothers brother.  Or bob’s your uncle, which ever you like better.

“Skyhawk 53587, cleared for the VOR 20 approach, cross DAN at or above 3000 until established”.  I won’t bore you with the details of how many times I had to have this clearance read before my read back was correct.  I began my descent from 4500 down to 3000.

Once over the DAN VOR, we started the clock… err…. I was reminded we needed to start the clock for a 3 minute outbound before the procedure turn.  As we tracked outbound I made sure we could identify EDWIN on SBV.  By being able to identify EDWIN we are able to descend 400 feet lower.  This would be awesome if we were actually in the soup.

Side Note, I learned that due to a recent regulation change, you are now allowed to identify intersections like EDWIN using GPS.  Evidently, in the past, this was not allowed.

Everything else about the approach was pretty standard.  I completed the procedure turn and then once established, descended to 1480 until EDWIN, then down to 1060 and foggles off, for the cross-wind offset landing.

Why Offset landing?  One of the more interesting things about this approach was that the runway is actually offset 5 degrees from the approach course.  The approach course is 195 and the runway course is 200.  No big deal but the visual in my head about where the runway would be located did not match reality.  I figure it would be more right in the windscreen.  No matter, I was able to actually complete a competent crosswind landing which was probably the highlight of the flight to be honest.

After the touch and go I performed the missed and was given vectors and altitude of 3000.  “Wow, your GPS started working again!  Cleared direct to OZOPE”.  I punched in the RNAV 21 OZOPE approach in the GPS, set the CDI and turned direct.  At this point I was told that I should contact Raleigh Approach about 30 miles out.  This radio call was better than the first call when we left TTA.  I got the squawk and ident even though she didn’t ask for ident.  I am an idiot. ugh.    Listening is fundamental kids.

As we go closer, I briefed and we tried to get the weather at TTA a few times to try to figure out if we would have to perform the circle approach.  Once we reached OZOPE, I slowed us down and by this time, we knew we would need to circle to land. Oh, and now we are partial panel, no AI or DG. Meh, no biggie.

Once I hit YUXSI, we cancelled flight following and I commenced to blowing radio calls at TTA.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how far away we were.  I kept telling them we were on the RNAV 21 approach instead of simply inbound final runway 21 circling approach 03.  Eventually, I got my act together and followed the glide path down to the circling minimums of 760, took off the foggles and joined the downwind for runway 3.  It was good practice flying the tight short pattern. In hindsight, I didn’t actually make a radio call after I called downwind until I said I was taxiing back.  UGHHHHH.  My radio work is very porous at the moment.  IT WILL GET BETTER!!!!


Ok, radio communication flubs aside, I guess I should be heartened that I did make more radio calls today. Handled dialing in the nav frequencies, and tracked the VOR’s and generally navigated well.  My instructor seems to be pleased with my progress and in general I know that I am hard on myself.  It was a really fun flight though and I had a great time.  Looking forward to the next flight which should be to KHRJ for the Localizer 05 .