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I'm Lost. Now What?

As I have mentioned earlier, I loved my flight training days.  They were filled with challenges, successes, and many adventures.  Today I thought I’d keep the post light and tell you about my first solo cross country.

My first solo cross country flight was from Provo, UT (KPVU) to Delta, Utah (KDTA).  I had flown there once with my instructor before he sent me on my own.  The flight was barely over 50 miles, so not far at all, and it is nearly impossible to get lost, might I add. I had stewed over my flight plan and the weather for hours and was finally ready to depart.

I had my timer, my charts, my E6B incase I needed it, and every applicable airport tabbed in my A/FD. I was ready! About halfway down I got a little confused with which “canyon” I was referring to on my flight plan. On the map it seemed so simple, but when it came down to it, I wasn’t sure if it was the canyon closer to me or the one further south.

As I didn’t want to fly the wrong direction or burn unnecessary fuel, I panicked for a second, and then went back to the basics. I remembered my instructor telling me that if I ever got lost, even if just for a moment, to follow the 5 C’s. I’m sure you’ve heard of them before, but incase you haven’t, here they are:

CLIMB: climb to a higher altitude so you can see more of the area and get a better perspective- it’s also wise to circle while you climb so you can stay over the same area.

CONSERVE: conserve on fuel- higher altitudes require less fuel, and if you’re circling while you try to figure out where you are, you need to conserve as much fuel as you can.

COMMUNICATE: if you still can’t figure out where you are, try communicating with the nearest airport (as you should have some idea of where you are), FSS, or on 121.5 if you are really lost.

CONFESS: once you communicate, confess that you are lost and need help (I always thought this was a funny step… as a women I would have no problem admitting I was lost, but apparently that is harder for a man to do… LOL).

COMPLY: do what they tell you to. If you were able to get ahold of an ATC facility, they can give you a squawk code to find you on radar and then let you know where you are and where you need to go.

I climbed a few thousand feet while circling the field I was over. As I climbed I leaned the mixture out to burn less fuel and then I looked more closely at my sectional chart. Within minutes I was able to see exactly where I needed to go. Easy peazy! Again, I found out my instructor actually was right. I really do have to find him somebody and say ‘thank you.’

Of course I never told my instructor about this story of mine- in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever told this story.  It’s a bit embarrassing to admit I got temporarily disoriented (fine, I was lost) flying only 52 miles away. So if you do get lost, even if just for a moment, remember the 5 C’s and you will be just fine.

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