Instrument Flight 3: The First Approach

My flight instructor surprised me today by asking whether I had approach plates. I hadn’t bought them yet because I thought we were a few weeks away from doing instrument approaches.

First we went to the practice area and reviewed steep turns, slow flight, and timed turns. Then I got an intro to flying with a partial panel, in which some of the instruments are covered as if they weren’t working. I found it easier, since I had fewer things to watch. (If I could “lose” a few more gauges, I’d have this mastered.)

I did some turns using the compass, with the heading and attitude indicators covered. (A compass does not show the correct heading throughout a turn, so the idea is to learn how to compensate for compass errors while turning to the desired direction.)

We went to Lakeland (LAL) to do my first ILS approach. I hadn’t expected to be attempting one this early, so I hadn’t read about them or studied the approach plates. I’m not sure that would have made a difference, though, since most of the approach went by too fast for me to understand much. I guess approaches are the instrument training equivalent of landings- something that is learned more by repeated practice than by being taught.

My instructor did the radio work, talking to Tampa Approach and the tower, and I tried to do the flying. I was all over the place trying to follow the glideslope, which showed how far off I was in two dimensions. Soon we were down to 600 feet, close to the runway, and I had to take off the foggles and land. Transitioning to a visual landing after all the hood time was not easy, since I’m not used to suddenly finding myself on final.

I’m glad I got an early exposure to the approach. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to Iearn, so now I can go read about the procedures having a little experience doing one.

On the way back home, without the hood, I got a lesson in intercepting an NDB bearing. We finished with some crosswind touch and goes.

The weather today was so nice that it was a shame to spend most of it under the hood, so after the lesson I did a solo cross country flight. There probably won’t be too many IFR-related tasks I can practice by myself, since I can’t use the hood without another pilot, but today there was one. I picked a couple of airports with NDBs and used the ADF to home to each one. The visibility was so high that I could see downtown Tampa from a few miles west of Disney World. That’s about fifty miles.

Today: 0.9 hours instrument time
Total: 8.4 hours instrument time

Continue reading…

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments