Sunday, September 14, 2008

Big Bear - Hesperia / Cessna 182RG-II / VFR

This very short flight was supposed to be a routine exercise in pilotage, but it seems that I'm still not very good at navigating by visual landmarks alone.

I had drawn a course on the map that should have taken me past Arrowbear Lake and then over Lake Arrowhead and up to Hesperia. It all looked simple. On the sectional, at least, the valley I needed to follow to get to Hesperia directly seemed to stand out clearly. Things changed in the air, though.

I started out from Big Bear easily enough. Once I had crossed Big Bear Lake, however, I got confused about where to make my turn to the northwest, and I followed the valley all the way down out of the mountains. When I noticed that all the mountains seemed to be off to my right, and I recognized what had to be either Redlands or San Bernardino ahead of me, I turned to the northwest and tried to find a valley through which I could sneak north. I flew for miles along the foothills until I saw a nice deep valley, but as I tuned the Hector VOR I realized I was moving too far west, so I turned north and hopped over the mountains, hoping to see a lake on the other side.

I did indeed see a lake as I crossed the summits, but I realized it was Silverwood Lake, not Lake Arrowhead, and I was too far west. I turned northeast and flew (coincidentally) along V442 for a time, constantly scanning the land below, until I saw what looked like it probably might be Hesperia. I didn't see any other fields nearby and it was in about the right place, so I turned towards it and landed. Sure enough, it was Hesperia.

This should have been only a 20-minute flight, and I still got lost. I need more practice!