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Features March 2017 Issue

Capital Line Items

Seemingly simple charts can have subtle twists that trap the unsuspecting. They can also contain extra items that appear useless, or outright wrong.

Just like Albany in New York and Sacramento in California, you won’t find Maine’s capital buildings anywhere in the state’s thriving metropolis. Of course, that’s because Maine doesn’t really have a thriving metropolis. (Our biggest “city,” Portland only has 67,000 people and has issues, being dubbed the “other” Portland.) However, we do have a capital in our eleventh-largest town of Augusta, population 18,000. I’m told 17,993 of them are lawyers.

Of the remaining seven, perhaps you’re visiting the guy who paints watercolors of the lovely view overlooking the Kennebec River. Or, it could be a sit-down with the family who runs the surprisingly good Thai restaurant in the terminal building. Perhaps it’ll be to see the governor who brought leadership by illogic to the executive branch years before it became a national fad.

If you visit KAUG on an IFR day, and don’t request one of those newfangled RNAV approaches, you’ll be vectored onto the ILS or LOC Runway 17.

Reading the Fine Print

Like the legislation you’ll find lying around the nearby state house, the approach chart seems cluttered with more notes and extra lines than should be required to accomplish the task. However, blithely glossing over them could surprise you at the worst time.

Just start with the notes section. Past the requirement for an ADF (or GPS equivalent) for the missed approach hold at DUNNS, is that the localizer is unusable above 1500 feet within half a mile of the threshold. Good to know, even accepting that’s 1200 feet above the runway, or a 24-degree descent angle to land straight in, and it’s 600 feet above circling minimums. Perhaps if you find yourself at such a point, climbing on the missed is a better plan than salvaging that approach anyway.

Likewise with the note that the glideslope is unusable below 430 feet. I’m all for keeping the needles in my frame of reference past DA in low vis, but by 120 feet AGL on a Cat I ILS, I should have visuals confirming I can hold my landing attitude to the pavement, and I can ignore fluctuations in the glideslope.

Note that circling to the crossing Runways 8 and 26 is NA at night when the VGSI is inop... except there is no visual glideslope indication for either of those runways. Turns out it’s a mistake. As of this writing, the NOTAM is: Night Landing Runway 26 NA.

The last part of the note looks like a mistake as well: % DME from AUG VOR/DME. What’s “percent DME”? The answer is all the way down in the SHAWE fix minimums where you’ll find the matching percent symbol—which is being used strictly like at asterisk here. For all the notes and numbers associated with the AUG DME on this chart, the only thing it’s officially good for is identifying SHAWE for an optional extra stepdown on the localizer approach.

Something Extra, Something Missing

Akin to pork on a spending bill, some bonus material snuck in on this chart. This bonus is actually a bogus way to identify SHAWE that shouldn’t be there. Start with the text “AUG R-349” just below and to the left of the holding pattern course reversal. Now follow the text’s thin arrow to the left-hand side of the localizer feather (as viewed from above) and look closely. There’s another arrow there.

That arrow is the R-349 from the AUG VOR, and it’s “defining” SHAWE as an intersection between that radial and the localizer. Two degrees of separation is simply too shallow an angle to define a fix. Remember, allowable VOR error is four degrees. This is a mistake and will be struck from the chart.

It turns out, when one rider gets struck, another gets added. ATC radar should appear as a way to identify SHAWE. So expect to see “RADAR” in the plan and profile views beside the DME of 2.3 in the new chart.

DME isn’t published for the missed approach point. I don’t know why, as it looks like the MAP is 0.6 DME. It might be something that turned up on a flight check, or a TERPS issue, or perhaps the DME is unusable there, too. No matter the reason, it means the only official way to identify the missed approach point for the localizer approach is also that well-known secret to both comedy and politics: timing.

The Tones of an Older Era

Timing is also how you’ll handle the course reversal at DUNNS if you go there direct or on the transition from the AUG VOR. It’s worth noting this course reversal is charted as a racetrack, so a hold in lieu of procedure turn (HILPT) is how you must fly it. Intercepting the localizer inbound a bit further out from DUNNS is a plus here, because you’ll also intercept the glideslope before crossing DUNNS inbound. Yes, at altitude but still in the HILPT inbound leg, you’ll intercept the glideslope. Go figure.

That point is marked by a fix in parentheses labeled KNDCR. But don’t expect to see it in your GPS flight plan. These parenthetical fixes are strictly for your GPS to draw a holding pattern that has you back on the localizer in the right spot. Sometimes they get published on the chart, sometimes they don’t.

To ensure you go far enough outbound, it’s worth watching that glideslope indication to see it’s above you while you’re still at 2500 feet and ready to turn back southward. That gives you time to get established and down to the intercept altitude of 2300. By the time you cross DUNNS, the altimeter should be ticking down through 2173.

DUNNS sports a Localizer Outer Marker (LOM) with both a marker beacon and an NDB transmitter. Once a staple for ILS approaches, LOMs are going the way of most ground-based navaids it seems. I can just see it: Someday a young CFI will tell a student the three-color “OMI” on the audio panel must be the logo for an audio-panel company he’s pretty sure got overrun by Garmin in the late 90s.

Until that day when DUNNS becomes merely a GPS waypoint and the physical LOM gets moved down the street to the Maine State Museum, you can enjoy the satisfying soft tones of crossing the outer marker—same as your father did before you.

That’s if you remember to turn up the beacon volume so you can hear it.

Jeff Van West sometimes pines for the days of whistle-stops with real trains. Partly because he thinks debating actual issues matter, but mostly because he just likes trains.

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