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This suspicion is confirmed later at a time when he was under extreme pressure and was simply 'babbling out' his thoughts: (09:34:20) “It’s a single engine and we’ll try to continue our flight plan.”  - a silly answer to the question he had been just asked by FIS 5.....  and again at 09:34:36, he was asked, “The lights are on at Maitland, if you wish to divert and make a landing at Maitland,” to which he replied, “MDX, Nah, ah, …..... for ah thee, West Maitland, but would appreciate it if you could leave the lights on for a while.”

It has become quite obvious (to me at least) that Mike had no intention of landing at West Maitland. He just wanted the option left open in case he needed to land, but I suspect he also wished the lights left on as a beacon to orient himself to – for when the time came when West Maitland came into view.

Up to this stage, apart from the mistake of punching in the incorrect frequency into the ADF, Mike had managed from the Ident position to keep a fairly good idea of his situational awareness position, until the Controller came back at 09:31:44 saying, “MDX Sydney, If you wish to track to West Maitland a right turn onto150 by radar.”   Mike still had a mental picture in his mind clear enough to immediately challenge the “right turn”as being incorrect, but the “turn onto 150 by radar” would have really thrown him!  If the course to West Maitland was genuinely at a heading of 150°... and the radar   information would be correct... then he was obviously lost!

At 09:31:58 FIS 5 corrected by saying “left turn.”                 

At this point I believe Mike resigned to believing he did not have a clue where he was, and finally resigned himself to follow the instructions of the Controller not realising that the Controller had given a heading that had not allowed for the wind drift. However, with this heading given of 150°M, this does give us a clue of where Mike was at that stage (see image above). The 150° (161°T) light blue line shown is the course needed to intersect West Maitland if there was no wind and he flew on a heading shown on his magnetic compass of 150°. This of course means that at some stage they had to be somewhere along that line.

The 'Radar Paint' Pointers 13 to 16 are on a 220°M heading with the allowance for drift of a wind 240/56.

From 09:31:58 allowing for a rate one turn onto a heading of 150°M (23.3 seconds = 70°) and a heading of 150°M with that wind would give him a track over the ground of 130°M at 159 kts GS (20° drift to port). (Track would have been 141°T = 130°M)

At 09:34:00 Mike said,  “ah, MDX, We’ve picked up a fair amount of ice and I can just make out a few white towns on the coast. I’d appreciate it if we could ah - Oh hell, we  just got in a downdraught now and we’re down at about a thousand a minute.” This is where the calculations showed there was a problem, which meant I needed a  re-think – hence researching the winds as earlier in this article (and later inserting that section in).

2 minutes 2 seconds at 159 kts gives a distance along that track of 5.39 nm minus an allowance of 0.1 for the slower speed due to the headwind in the turn onto the track = 5.38 nm. With a track shown on Google Earth of 5.38 nm along the a track of 141°T (130°M), this places MDX in a position where you would expect an updraught – not the downdraught he claimed he was experiencing. In this image,>>> you may say that there could have been a downdraught caused by the ridge just before the 5.38nm spot (about where the blue and brown lines cross) if the wind was more towards the direction of the 290° wind arrow shown, but if that was the case, with the wind behind him, this would place him further along the track, but not as far as where you would expect a downdraught.

MDX pg 15

 

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