The flight started out great I was cleaning up my flaps and departing the pattern to the west. When all of a sudden shortly after takeoff my GPS posted an alert NO RAIM AVAILABLE!!! OH NO!!! What am I going to do now?! Initially I thought no problem I will land at our primary airport/Drop Zone which was located halfway to Hamilton NY so I could troubleshoot, regroup, and re-plan.
So I decided to whip out my sectional chart, plotter, & E6B. I found where I was on the sectional plotted a new course and began to use basic pilotage and little bit of dead reckoning to locate the airport. I knew if I could keep Schenectady County Airport to my right and Albany Int'l to my left, I could find my home airport in the middle. I passed between the two airports at 6500ft and could not get eyes on my home airport I flew zig zag patterns east to west searching for the airport.
After all of that spur of the moment planning I was officially lost in the air. I couldn't believe it, thoughts of my flight instructor telling me to always have a back up for my primary nav aid popped into my head. "Backup the GPS with the VOR and backup the VOR with your planned route on your sectional. Constantly find where you are on the sectional, you can never have too many backups while flying redundancy will keep you alive". After coming to the realization that I was lost, I swallowed my pride and contacted Albany approach. I admitted to being lost and needing help, they provided me with vectors and I found my way home. I landed and got myself together, planned a new flight, and I made it to Hamilton without the use of a GPS.
Develop Basic Navigation Skills
While flying confirm your position using visual cues, land based navigation aids, and dead reckoning(Slowly becoming a lost art in the world of aviation!!!). Practice flying with the GPS as the backup or secondary form of navigation instead of it being your primary navigation aid. If you are using GPS as the primary form of enroute navigation, you can use VOR's and ground based navigation aids when available to provide a backup to GPS or other RNAV information.
Think "DAD" & Green Data
Always know your heading, altitude, and distance to the desired fix. Think "DAD": distance, altitude, and direction. If the GPS fails or you have trouble entering information, you can quickly revert to primary methods of navigation and maintain your course through flying your known heading. Airline pilots call this "flying green data".
Prepare a head of time & Practice the full approach
Be fully aware of the environment you are going into. Give yourself enough time to become familiar with the approach and notify ATC if you are unable to safely proceed due to unexpected changes with an enroute clearance or approach clearance.
Pilots become accustomed to flying instrument approaches through radar vectors. You should be confident in flying without air traffic control vectors. Practice flying green data and full approaches without the vectoring assistance of air traffic control.