Instrument Flight 1: Starting on My Instrument Rating

There are three categories of hours I need to log toward an instrument rating: 125 hours total, 50 cross country, and 40 actual or simulated instrument. As I start this training, I have about 120, 37, and 5. The first two categories will be taken care of soon, so for now I’m going to list only my instrument time. The numbers at the bottom of this post means I got 1.1 hours instrument time today and have a career total of 6.4. So far it’s all simulated (“hood”); when I fly in actual IMC, I’ll be sure to mention it.

If you haven’t yet read everything at this site, here’s a little background. I got my private pilot certificate in April 1996 and spent the summer building cross country time, trying to avoid thunderstorms, and shopping for a plane. I bought a Cessna 172 last month, and now that I’ve gotten used to it, I’m continuing my training.

It was good to get away from the books and studying and just fly, although I did do a lot of reading about flying. I’m sticking with my original flight instructor since it worked so well the first time. I hadn’t flown with him since June, so I was curious to get his opinion of what I might have unlearned over the summer. I want to correct any problems now before trying to learn a bunch of other things. As it turned out, not too much.

Last weekend would have been great for instrument training, because there was good instrument weather most of the time. However, my instructor was out of town, so I’ll have to wait for my turn in the clouds.

The weather today was clear, low 80s (known here as “cool”), windy, and bumpy. I got an intro to doing an IFR preflight (essentially checking the instruments a bit more carefully before takeoff). We went through a lot of hood work in an hour: straight and level flight, climbing and descending turns, steep turns, constant-speed and constant-rate climbs and descents, slow flight, and power-off stalls. (Some of that doesn’t appear in the syllabus until lesson 3 or 4.)

We also did an engine-out drill and finished with a few crosswind landings. I thought mine would need work since the wind had been pretty calm the last few months. I didn’t do a great job of compensating for wind, but the landings weren’t too bad. Another weakness was adjusting the trim properly, because I’m not used to changing it that often.

Today: 1.1 hours instrument time
Total: 6.4 hours instrument time

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