Week Seventeen: Restricted Airspace

My first nav north of the Gold Coast had me getting familiar with Amberley’s restricted airspace in this week’s nav. For the first time we went north of the airport. Busy airspace. You have Brisbane International, Archerfield Airport, RAAF Base Amberley and a peppering of restricted airspace in South East Queensland. You can definitely feel the business of it, for instance heading south west from the Gold Coast is another story, the airspace quickly turns to Class G which is uncontrolled but this week we went up to Archerfield which is controlled, the first controlled airport I have been to other than the Gold Coast.

This week John, a new Instructor starting with Australian Wings Academy backseated my nav with Jack, it was cool to have someone else along for something different. We went up to Archerfield, a Class D aerodrome which is slightly different to Class C like the Gold Coast or any other major airport like Brisbane, Sydney etc. It was a good experience, I was slightly on edge with the new elements on this flight including Amberley’s Airspace, a fairly large and ominous restricted patch of sky for a mere student pilot like me, but everything worked out pretty well. We practiced taxiing in Archerfield and then departed west for our next leg to Stanthorpe. We had to try getting a clearance through Amberley which we didn’t recieve, it was unexpected so I made a plan to divert to Bromelton NDB, a radio navigation aid which can be used by pilots to assist in navigating, and then track from Bromelton to Stanthorpe. The diversion went well along with some guidance from Jack, it was tricky airspace sandwiched between two restricted areas with not very much margin on either side.

After the diversion Jack put me under the hood and we did a lost procedure which put us out at Rathdowney, followed by a forced landing and some steep turns. We did another divert procedure to the Gold Coast simulating a lowering cloud base, which meant I couldn’t track direct to the Gold Coast over Beechmont because of terrain so I had to go north via Eagle Heights to the Q1 in Surfers Paradise. Due to Eagle Heights being a built up area I also had to do a triangle/60º diversion procedure, so it was a diversion inside a diversion. By the second half of the flight my concentration was waning, this was the busiest flight to date, with more elements added in, many of which were unplanned. It’s good for on the fly thinking and building decision making skills but it does leave you feeling quite drained by the time you touch down back home. I still and will always have things to work on, nobody is perfect, for example I really want to get on top of my landings, but I just try to adopt a mantra of ‘stay focused, keep calm, breathe and get in front of the aircraft’. The only real factors at play now are me, which I can work on, and the weather which I’m at the mercy of, but let’s hope it plays ball and I can smash out this PPL test soon.


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