Untouched for 15 years- can I say 'good-riddance' to my Whiz-Wheel?

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15 years 7 months

Posts: 3,892

15 years of vintage tail-dragging has yet to prompt me to dust off my whiz-wheel flight calculator, despite various flights across France and into Switzerland, yet the infernal thing remains on the PPL syllabus and still seems to be promoted as an essential part of flight planning. I have almost entirely forgotten how to use it, and even at my most 'competent' found it effectively unusable in the air, unless lookout was abandoned for about 4 minutes. I seem to recall a wind dot went somewhere. Under the cosh of harmonised regulations, there seems to be two disparate stands of flying emerging, either 'big-time' ATPL, Instrument rating, etc, or else tending to simple grass roots LAA types, for day VFR use, often merging into the microlight classification. In a J3 Cub ( for instance ) the differences between rectified airspeed and true airspeed is a complete nonsense, pretty much everything happens at 65 MPH, and though drift is an issue up to a point, if one navigates by very dense ground features ( as in most of the UK) you automatically compensate for drift as you pass from one waypoint to the next. I concede if one were flying over the sea, out of sight of land, one would become a lot more focussed on such issues, but almost inevitably a GPS would be used. Is anyone out there still using the trusty old whiz wheel 'in anger' or is it going the way of Top Hats and typewriters? And if so, why bother teaching it..
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Profile picture for user 27vet

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9 years 11 months

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Like having to practice glide approaches in a 747 ..
Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 9 months

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I think the reason for teaching it is to giver a basic understanding of the effects of wind on speed and track, nothing more. Once having gone through the motions to test standard it can effectively be confined to the flight bag. Most now set off on the calculated heading, check the track on the gps once stabilised, correct until track and course required coincide and then fly that heading. Moggy

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14 years 8 months

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I took the slide section out and use it as a ruler/straight edge at work. Had it for years now and is excellent in its new role.
Profile picture for user 27vet

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9 years 11 months

Posts: 2,657

Moggy, you're right, pilots still need basic skills. I once took off in a 172 on a flight (long before the days of GPS), to find that the compass was 30 degrees out. I got to my destination, 400 miles away using the VOR and ADF. A low time pilot (and maybe even relatively high time pilot) might get well lost if their GPS fails and their map reading skills etc are not up to scratch. I also used to fly sectors in Cessna twins like Eros (Windhoek, Namibia) to Katima Mulilo (Namibia) with only a map. There are no navaids except for the VOR departing Windhoek to about 100 miles out. The first half is desert and only towards the end do you pass over the Okavango delta to get your bearings. Katima is in the middle (15 mile diameter) of 5 countries two of which were hostile, and landing at the wrong place could land you in a prison of war camp for a long time QED. Look at the route on Google Earth. 500 nm.
Profile picture for user BlueRobin

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19 years 9 months

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Ah yes, but can you still nav with a plog, compass and watch? Or has that skill waned too?
Profile picture for user RyanShort1

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11 years 7 months

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In a J3 Cub ( for instance ) the differences between rectified airspeed and true airspeed is a complete nonsense, pretty much everything happens at 65 MPH, and though drift is an issue up to a point, if one navigates by very dense ground features ( as in most of the UK) you automatically compensate for drift as you pass from one waypoint to the next.
I happen to have used my CPU-26A/P yesterday in a Cub with a student... related to some wind calculations and deciding whether or not I had the fuel to make an extra stop before returning to the home airfield... I teach students both how to use the GPS, and how to do things "old school" ways so that they are not dependent on the GPS in an emergency. Ryan
Profile picture for user Archer

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15 years 11 months

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At the FTO where I work we teach them to navigate with a plog and heading/time, I seriously doubt that they work it out with a whiz wheel though, the've got Excel for that now! In the air for a diversion there's a small handy gadget which is made by a Dutch guy especially for these situations (This one) and all the students use these things. Even though we've got a similar situation as in the UK (dense ground features) students still manage to get lost. The training aircraft don't have GPS so they really need their navigating skills. And I still feel that they need something to fall back on when the electronic gadgets die on them.
Profile picture for user Student Pilot

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10 years 10 months

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In over thirty years of VFR flying for a living (Remote area op's as well) I only used a small wizz wheel pre GPS for groundspeed checks.
Profile picture for user flyernzl

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12 years 7 months

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I set off on a 4-landing 6 hour cross country in a 172 earlier this year. My GPS destroyed itself halfway through the first leg. Back to basic nav skills for the rest of the trip - and for the return home the next day. Would you take the lifeboats off an ocean liner if they had not been used for 15 years? Always useful for Plan B.

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9 years 1 month

Posts: 146

Work out the max drift, use the clock to calculate drift (i.e. if 30 degrees off, half the clock face=half max drift etc and you're sorted. Works for headwinds/tailwinds also. Workable method and as old as the hills. I haven't used the whizz wheel since 1992

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14 years 4 months

Posts: 320

Untouched for 15 years- can I say 'good-riddance' to my Whiz-Wheel?
You might as well, I don't think that you can get the batteries for them anymore:D exmpa

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15 years 7 months

Posts: 3,892

Mine was steam powered. The supply was direct from my ears ;)