The second part of this series introduced the practical use of Aerodrome charts, how to find and taxi to the active runway and take-off. This third chapter will introduce Tasking and Landing.
This article has been sitting in my drafts folder for a couple months. I wasn’t and I am not really happy about the landing procedure so feel free to provide feedback or suggestions about how I can improve such procedure! 🙂
After take-off you can carry on with your flightplan and you may want to call Traffic to inform other aircraft (maybe someone else was waiting for you to depart, this can happen especially in low-visibility conditions) that you are leaving the airspace and tuning to a different frequency:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, leaving your airspace, pushing two five three decimal zero zero zero
At this point you are in an online server, fairly newbie-friendly and you can collaborate with other players. You can, for instance, check on Hoggit GAW Discord if there is any Controller online (Magic is a common callsign) and check-in with them, advising it of your presence and being assigned to a specific task; such as doing a CAP over a certain area where other human CAS aircraft are operating.
In order to be assigned to a task, the Controller needs to know who and where you are and what ordnance you are carrying. The format of the message depends on how proficient you and the Controller are.
This is an example of quick check-in:
► Magic, Uzi 9-2, when available
© Uzi 9-2, Magic, go ahead
► Magic, Uzi 9-2, checking in one f-14, 30nm east of Gudauta, angels 20, armed with four AIM-54, two AIM-7, two AIM-9, playtime six zero. Available for tasking.
This check-in includes your position (you can use the bullseye as well), ordnance and how long you are available for before having to refuel (or maybe because you are busy IRL, who knows 🙂 ). If you want, you can add more details such as your current heading or, if you are performing CAS, if you have a pod hence self-lasing and buddy-lasing capabilities.
If you don’t feel confident you can cut it short by saying that you are available for air-to-air or air-to-ground tasks. No controllers on GAW expect much more, especially if you are new:
► Magic, Uzi 9-2, checking in one f-14, 30nm east of Gudauta, angels 20, available for air to air tasking.
The Controller may ask you more details about your payload or playtime but it’s still a good way to “break the ice” and get a bit more comfortable with other players.
Uzi 9-2, RTB
When you are bingo (low on fuel but the level is still enough to RTB safely) or winchester (out of ordnance) you can start heading towards a friendly airport for landing. If you were being tasked by Magic or other Controllers, remember to check-out before leaving their area.
When you are approaching the airfield tune to traffic (249.500) and update your status. Tuning one radio to ATIS to get updated information about wind, visibility and so on is also a good idea.
If the Airfield is ummanged, the call will differ depending on your approach (pattern or overhead break). For an overhead break (I think it’s the most common approach), it would be something like this:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, on final runway one five for overhead break
You can additionally update your position during each step of the break but usually a last short final call will suffice:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, short final runway one five
Once landed remember to taxi out and vacate the runway as soon as possible. You should clearly tell your intentions in order to alert potential traffic coming from the opposite direction (there should be none due to how the active runway work but better safe than sorry).
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, runway vacated, taxiing to Apron 1 via Echo and Alpha
If the ATC is operative, the message will be similar to the one used to request taxi, with a couple of obvious differences. Similarly to the unmanned situation, the landing technique must be specified.
► Gudauta tower, Uzi 9-2, 20 miles north of Gudauta, heading 270, inbound Gudauta for overhead break.
The reply from ATC can vary. It can instruct you to get to a certain altitude or flight level and proceed or you can be immediately cleared to carry on. You could be also instructed to establish a holding pattern in a certain position or even something else. This is, in fact, not the request to be allowed to land but rather an update about your position and intentions so the ATC knows that we are coming.
Depending on the instructions from the ATC you can proceed with the overhead brake or pattern and, once on final, contact the ATC for the last clearance. The ATC will ask you to check the landing gear and confirm:
► Gudauta tower, Uzi 9-2, on final runway one five
© Uzi 9-2, Gudauta Tower, cleared to land runway one five, check landing gear down and locked
► Gudauta tower, Uzi 9-2, cleared to land runway one five, three greens
Please note that this is a very diluted and shortened version of the landing procedures with multiple controllers and some steps of the landing procedure are missing (for instance, the comms regarding the position in the pattern and the break) but it should allow for a landing in safe conditions. Whatever is the procedure you usually use, as long as the information is communicated clearly to the ATC and you follow its instruction, it’s fine.
Something advanced: Instrumental Approach
Instructions to perform landing patterns can be found anywhere on the internet so I will not spend time on them. I’d rather introduce an approach that can be useful in bad weather conditions.
Since I don’t fly FW often, I asked a real life military pilot to introduce the very basics of Instrumental Approach. Note that the following video has been recorded on a Saturday morning and completely unplanned so slides weren’t ready and DeMonteur had to set them up on the spot (and I totally needed more coffee):
This very brief introduction can be applied, for example, to TACAN approach.
The details of this procedure are well beyond the scope of this guide but I warmly suggest you to go deeper into the details of the Instrumental Approach in order to become able to land successfully even in low-visibility conditions.