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Andrew Godden

An Analysis of a MEBAR Flight Leg (Flight Leg 1)

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The planning and preparation aside, a downside for me with any MEBAR is that by the time the event goes live, I've been living, breathing, dreaming, and flying the detail for the navigation and weather of each Flight Leg for weeks. I'm sure you can imagine that it somewhat takes the edge off the excitement of flight planning and flying in the actual event.

So, what do I do to keep it real! Well, this year, I am flying the MEBAR using Active Sky for active real world weather with live updates whilst en route - that should inject some extra surprises.

Join with me, whilst I take you on a journey (embellished a little for the purposes of the pictorial) of An Analysis of a MEBAR Flight Leg from my perspective.

LGAT, 18 Apr 19, 0615 hrs, T-45 mins.
The daily flight briefing by the organisers has just concluded and I have collected the current METAR for the Flight Leg. Weatherwise, there is nothing terribly concerning from earlier predictions except for possible wind changes at altitudes from 6,000 ft and above which could cause me some concerns for being able to maintain my allocated cruise speed of 165 kts - nothing that a small adjustment to my planned cruise altitudes can't fix. I have decided to depart LGAT with a full load of fuel so that I only have to take on minimal fuel at Kythira (LGKC) for Flight Leg 2. With some additional "comforts of home" packed in, this gives the aircraft a Gross Weight of 7,936 lbs. However, this extra fuel weight will cut into my aircraft's performance and reduces my margin for overcoming stronger adverse winds. Based on the METAR information, I have adjusted my planned cruise altitude for the first two sectors of Flight Leg 1 to be 5,000 ft. The potential for increases in the wind speeds from 6,000 ft and above for the sector to Crete will make Sector 3 a little more tricky because of the flight heading and the application of the Hemispheric Rule. I have decided to get a weather update on the winds as I approach LGML and make my final decision then. My options are, descend to 4,000 ft and then climb to 10,000 ft for Waypoint 3 on Crete, or immediately commence my climb to 10,000 ft at Waypoint 2, LGML - wind will clearly be the deciding factor here. Of course, the former of these options adds in an extra time factor of the additional 1,000 ft climb introduced by having to descend from my initial cruise altitude of 5,000 ft. Who said the MEBAR was easy!

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T-15 mins.
All pre-flight checks complete, the engines rumble into life, and on the Twin Beech, do they rumble - oh, and that beautiful aroma. With a short taxi from my parking spot to RWY 33R and I will soon be on my way on another MEBAR (you wouldn't believe I've been here for all of them). I intend to avail myself of a view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon on departure so I need to factor that extra distance in as another adjustment to the timing on the first sector to Waypoint 1 (KEA VOR). With my allocated Target Speed of 165 kts, my planning has calculated a time on target (ToT) for the turn at Waypoint 1 of 13 mins 57 secs (13.95 mins).

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Departure & Sector 1.
After some final checks, I am cleared for take-off. The majestic antiquity of the Acropolis does not disappoint, but now I must focus on the job ahead. Established at my cruise altitude of 5,000 ft, I leave Athens behind as this latest journey is finally underway. The luxury of viewing the Acropolis on departure has now come back to bite me, putting me further behind than I anticipated for my ToT at Waypoint 1, (KEA VOR). Opting to be more gentle on the twin Pratt and Whitney Wasp Juniors, I will make up the time deficiency on Sector 2.

Planned Sector ToT - 13 mins 57 secs (13.95 mins).
Actual Sector ToT - 16 mins 04 secs (16.06 mins).

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Sector 2.
So far, so good, and with the island of Kythnos off my port wing, the volcanic island of Milos and Waypoint 2 (LGML) is not far away now. The update on the weather confirmed my expectations for an increase in the wind from 6,000 ft and above. With it now reading 27718KT, it makes the decision for Sector 3 simple, descend to a cruise altitude of 4,000 ft with a last minute climb to 10,000 ft for Waypoint 3.

Planned Sector ToT - 19 mins 03 secs (19.05 mins).
Actual Sector ToT - 17 mins 02 secs (17.04 mins).

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Sector 3.
Having descended to my new cruise altitude of 4,000 ft, I now have the long over water sector to the island of Crete. Crete finally appears out of the haze on the distant horizon, but I don't need to commence my climb to clear Waypoint 3 until well after I cross the coast.

Planned Sector ToT - 33 mins 17 secs (33.28 mins).
Actual Sector ToT - 32 mins 35 secs (32.59 mins).

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Sector 4 & Arrival.
Shortly after establishing on the heading for the final sector, I opt for a long, slow descent back down to a cruise altitude of 4,000 ft. This will provide me a better opportunity to make any speed adjustments as I fine tune for my overall Flight Leg Time. After some time en route, I realise I have lapsed into a false sense of security on this last sector though. Having not paid close enough attention to my speed, I find I have lost time and I now need to quickly rethink my approach and landing. Rule 1 - DON'T PANIC!!! Approaching the island of Kythira, I turn to a heading of 300 which will set me up for a simple left base and expidite my arrival. However, now I have no more fudge factor. I either nail the timing with this short circuit or I don't.

Planned Sector ToT - 35 mins 21 secs (35.35 mins).
Actual Sector ToT - 36 mins 28 secs (36.46 mins).

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Planned Total Flight Leg Time - 1 hr 41 mins 38 secs (101.63 mins).
Actual Total Flight Leg Time - 1 hr 42 mins 09 secs (102.15 mins).
Fuel Used - 122.54 gals

Cheers
Andrew

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Hi Andrew,

 Nice analysis of leg 1. I didn't expect someone/anyone to be doing sightseeing between sectors but after thinking about it looks like the way to go... (I might just try something like this for a change of pace...) Being the PIC I guess it is all okay as long as you get to the targets on the allotted time.

Look forward to the rally every year.

Keep'em flying...

Gunk

 

 

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i am impressed with your flight planning ... it's inspired me to do something other than take off and hope for the best ... although it's a great way to meet stuffed clouds (although why would you).  Love the Beech, very pretty ... I was thinking of flying the D18S I have (doesn't have your sophisticated instruments) but decided on the the PBY Catalina which has even fewer and more basic instrumentation.  

Great job on planning the gig again Andrew ... and thank you ... happy landings y'all ....

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Great analysis. I was thinking of doing flight reports like I did in earlier Mebar's, but decide on not doing so since the due dates haven't passed yet, and i'm away from my pc for several weeks from friday. Unless ... you don't see that as a "spoiler" risk?

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3 hours ago, Tobus[NL] said:

Great analysis. I was thinking of doing flight reports like I did in earlier Mebar's, but decide on not doing so since the due dates haven't passed yet, and i'm away from my pc for several weeks from friday. Unless ... you don't see that as a "spoiler" risk?

Toby,

Thank you for the comments. I guess there is some potential for "spoiler risk", but ultimately the MEBAR is still about the individual and their planning and flying ability. The MEBAR has always been about providing a fun event for participants to enjoy and we trust people will do that in whatever way works for them. Besides we also enjoy participant's sharing their screenshots and hearing how they went.

For me, aside from the design and planning of the event, it is very much about doing the detailed flight planning and timings for my flights. What isn't evident in my above pictorial is how I break each sector down even further with additional timing marks, such as crossing the coast, being abeam a geographical feature, etc. When I first participated in an event like the MEBAR, over 15 yrs ago, I approached it like David said above, "...take off and hope for the best...". Then I started planning better, bought myself an E6B "Whizz Wheel", and started breaking down each sector with timing marks, so that I could be as accurate as I could get with the times for my Flight Legs.

Ultimately, we know from years of running the MEBAR, that participants will approach it whatever way provides them with the maximum enjoyment, and that is the most important thing for us.

Cheers

Andrew

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