Instrument Flight 13: Playing with the New GPS

I brought the GPS with me today to see if I could get it working. After a few tries I found a good spot on the windshield for the suction cup antenna. We did the NDB approach at Plant City (PCM).

A cold front was coming, and the wind was strong enough that we needed a lot of correction. We adjusted our heading so much that I was getting confused. Sometimes we had as much as thirty degrees of correction, and I started to lose track of what the real heading was supposed to be and the difference between the NDB bearing interception angle and the wind correction angle.

Finally we did something we should have tried long ago: I took the hood off and watched my CFII fly the approach while explaining what he was doing. The GPS recorded our ground track so I could study it later.

After two approaches we did some maneuvers that needed practice- steep turns, stalls, and an engine-out drill. Everything but the last item was done under the hood. I got a little more hood time going to Lakeland for lunch.

I found the GPS to be very accurate. It displays ground features, like highways, lakes, and rivers, along with the airports and navaids. When we passed directly over the NDB, the map showed us on top of it, a much better indicator of station passage than the ADF. Zoom in on Lakeland, and you can see where I turned base and final, even where we taxiied to the restaurant.

The ground track is saved even when the unit is turned off. (It has to be erased deliberately.) I can see many uses as a training aid to compare the desired course with the actual flight path for approaches, ground reference maneuvers, pattern work, etc. It’s also nice not to have to guess the distance when making position reports.

Today: 1.1 hours instrument time
Total: 19.3 hours instrument time

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