Preparing for your first XC


Going cross country for the first time can be very intimidating, and many pilots never bother going XC, preferring to stay on the ridge and develop their skills there – which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, of course, and there is no obligation to go XC.

However, going XC can be very rewarding, and challenging, and does mean you need to perfect your skills like thermalling, landing out, etc. However, before you go XC, there are certain other things you need to do:

  • Buy some airmaps and learn how to read them. There is a lot of restricted airspace around our sites, and it is essential that pilots intending to go XC do not infringe that airspace. Landing in the middle of an RAF airfield is not a good idea!.
  • It is definitely worth buying a GPS with MapSource, i.e. a GPS on which you can load the airspace, so that you know exactly when you are approaching somewhere you should not be! This does not replace buying and understanding airmaps, but it does make navigation when you are flying a lot easier.
  • Get your Pilot P qualification. This involves study and an exam, covering airlaw, meteorology and principles of flight.  It’s very important to get this because, without it, you have no third party insurance when you go XC. Hopefully you will never need this – but each year, there are claims on it, and imagine the cost if, for example, you take out a power line (as has happened). Once you are ready to take the exam, contact and we will arrange a time and place for you to do it. You can also download a list of tasks for the pilot rating and the Pilot exam syllabus.

Other sources of information are

Helping you go XC

From time to time, club members will run XC courses and guiding on our sites. There are also various other sources of information:

  • Some podcasts on going XC can be found on Judith and Geoff’s podcast pages
  • Those pages also include some XC tips
  • XC training syllabus. This has been produced by Roy Dade, and was written by him to help him progress to flying XC – so new XC pilots please note, it’s not a qualification, it’s a series of guidelines and resources, which you might find useful. Download it here.

Downloading your tracklogs

GpsDump is the free program many people use for downloading tracklogs from their GPS to their computer – either just for personal use, or so you can upload them to the XC league. It can be a bit fiddly, and unintuitive to use for the first time, so Luke Evans has written a very useful tutorial on how to use it.

Right click to download the tutorial.