To: DIPLOCAT Judith Bradt
picking up, and up to 28knots at 3000. Probably going to be bumpy
on the way down...no problem.
A good rule
of thumb: if the wind velocity changes more than 2.5 knots per thousand
feet, it is VERY LIKELY to be moderately turbulent. If the wind
change is more than 4 knots per thousand feet, watch out for occasionally
reviewed the briefing that I'd gotten, and all of the approaches
with me before we went. I liked that; Tom didn't do that with
me. Maybe she was just trying to assess what stage I was at, as
this was our first flight together. The briefing helped me to
remember a couple of important things, and I learned a couple
of new things.
I think that's
the way a good instructor generally works, The instructor is trying
to get you to think about what you're going to do – one way
of keeping surprises of any sort to a minimum. It gives you a chance
to discuss problems, procedures and/or guidelines. It helps prepare
you for the lesson. By the same token, a post-flight briefing allows
you to assess your own performance; allows the instructor to review
what happened (or didn't), and to give you a sketch of the next
lesson. Too many instructors skip this step.
reminded of the value of slowing the aircraft down a few miles
BEFORE the IAF (and I thought of your reminder of how helpful
it is to create TIME for oneself).
-- not just time. A built-in hold, just like the Shuttle. It's not
just dead time: it allows you the chance to get caught up and start
thinking ahead. But call it what you like. Making time, if you prefer,
though not many of my female students were ever guilty of making
time with me. :)
There is a
tendency on the part of many pilots to rush into an approach. You're
right -- slowing down gives you the opportunity to practice thinking
ahead: the reverse is true -- thinking ahead gives you the opportunity
to slow down. But you're correct: slow down before your initial
approach fix so that the airplane is stabilized, giving you the
opportunity to fly the approach without a lot of power, airspeed
and trim changes.
asked me how to identify the MAP on an ILS. Through discussion,
I realized that you're there when you're at DH on the GS (another
reason why BEING on the GS is rather important); the time is there
as a backup if you have to go LOC only.
But you always
start the time anyway, even though you're on an ILS approach, right?
(You EVER know when the glide slope is going to crap out, do you?)
to realize the difference between "clearance on request"
and "clearance available". I had thought that the former
meant "ready when you want it", not "We've asked
for it, and will get back to you". I had been saying "standby"
to both, just to avoid getting a clearance spilled all over me.
Now I know. I think this had been explained to me before, but
it finally sunk in.
ATC, like most
other mindless beaurcratic institutions, have only ONE way of doing
things, ever. Every clearance -- repeat, EVERY -- clearnace you
get will be in the same format.
C = Cleared
V = via...
M = maintain...
R = report...
S = squawk...
This is what
they teach in air traffic controllers school. Exactly this. Makes
no difference whether you're flying SFO-LHR or taxiing across a
If you know
the format, AND you've taken the time to ask ATC on the telephone
(BEFORE you filed your flight plan) what the preferred routing is,
the only real mystery about your clearance is your altitude (which
shouldn't be a big problem flying a light plane back east) and the
flying back east IFR is fraught with intersections and airways,
changing MEAs and MOCAs and MVAs. But if you did your homework beforehand,
you'll hear those magic words ("Cleared to... ...as filed")
instead of the controller having to issue a full-route clearnace
at 240 words per minute.
vectored around for the NDB, and had only a little turn to make
to line up once we passed it. I was a little behind the game in
getting slowed down, though, and a little slow in descending,
too. I did the best job of holding the heading that I'd done in
a long time -- though I was battling just a little bit of confusion
on the "what heading do you have to hold/want to be on"
question, even the mental gymnastics were much improved.
FOR a procedure turn is to allow you to slow to approach speed,
and get the airplane into approach configuration! THINK ABOUT IT!!!
holding was not my strongest point on any of the three approaches;
that needs to improve...but the work on headings was much better.
On all three, Barbara said, I needed to be much more aggressive
about getting down -- doing the 750 fpm descent to the step-down
altitudes to give me as much time as I could get. The NDB approach
finished high, and, as I slowed down late, I was over the airport
a full 25 seconds before the time ran out, so I was reminded of
how important that slow-down and descent really is.
I get down to MDA immediately after passing the FAF or an ntermediate
fix. This gives me time to stabilize the airplane as much as possible
so that I can concentrate on my scan AND altitude management –
thus giving me the best chance to be in a position to land if I
happen to see the airport.
the airport at MDA and a few miles out yet, I never descend below
MDA until I am POSITIVE that I have proper vertical guidance to
the touchdown zone. By this, I mean a VASI, PAPI or the equivalent.
Nothing is worse that sneaking below the MDA with the field in sight,
only to pop into a cloud at some altitude BELOW MDA. (Is there a
big rock inside the cloud?
One thing I
calculate on a non-precision approach is something called a Visual
Descent Point. The VDP (for short) is the last point from which
you can make a normal landing (without excessive or extreme descent
Performance IFR Flying" (Allen Schwab) gives an excellent discussion
of the Visual Descent Point, marked on Jeppesen terminal charts
by a "V" on the profile plan. I strongly suggest that
you buy the book immediately and start reading! It's full of rules
and hints from some of the old pros about IFR flying in general
-- I re-read it at least once a year (in fact, my copy is falling
EXCELLENT PT, remembered to time...but got confused about whether
I could descend before or after crossing the fix after the PT
inbound (eek); a pointed question from Barbara made me realize
what I was doing. Tracked the heading well inbound, but didn't
get down as quickly as I ought to have.
Here's a point
where it's easy to get killed.
In 1974 (?),
a TWA crew descending into Dulles mistakenly thought that clearance
for the approach meant that they could descend down to the initial
approach altitude. In fact, they couldn't: beneath the approach
corridor was a large mountain which happens to be the site of the
President's nuclear war shelter (Mt. Weather). This ambiguity killed
them, because they didn't remember to fly the minimum altitudes
depicted on the approach plate.
you MUST be familiar with the minimum altitude specified on the
approach plate. PTs usually have a minimum altitude specified. Once
established on your final approach course, inbound to the FAF, you
MAY be able to descend -- look at the profile plan of the approach.
the unusual habit -- on this flight -- of not repeating back my
ATC instructions. This was odd, because I ALWAYS do that. I don't
know why I changed. That's a good habit, and an easy one to recover.
the cause, fix it. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS read back clearances. I
discussed why before.
good, predictable intercept for the ILS. Intercepted. Tracked
that localizer within a dot and a half all the way down. Didn't
do so well with the GS, but the LOC was SO much better! Your advice
to keep a close watch on it was EXCELLENT and really helped.
With some practice
-- and it will be difficult until you get a lot more experience
-- you'll be able to fly your approach from the CDI instrument (where
your G/S and LOC needles are located. But when you get into a good
airplane, I STRONGLY suggest buying an ADI and HSI -- which have
the localizer and glide slope needles incorporated into the gauge.
The benefit here is that you can always see pitch, bank, yaw (there's
a turn and slip indicator in the ADI), heading, and never lose sight
of the glide slope and localizer needles.
I wish that
you could fly with us for a few legs -- I'd put you up front with
some headphones and show you just how easy this really is... once
you have the right equipment. :) ;) :) Of course, we have our days
when we earn our pay, and we get screwed up on approaches with crosswinds,
headwinds, tailwinds and wind shears (and airplanes that won't fly
straight unlessthey're flying sideways). I guess we're like everyone
high on arrival at the airport; got down, was given incorrect
circle-to-land instructions which I got corrected. Found that
I was climbing from the DH back up towards circuit height, and
then realized that I didn't need to make a VFR circuit (is that
right?) even in VFR conditions if I am still on an IFR clearance.
was for circle-to-land? This isn't really clear. If you had clearance
to circle-to-land from the ILS (and the controller specifically
knew that you wanted to fly the circle-to-land maneuver from the
ILS), you should never have been at DH in the first place. As I
understand it, you cannot go below the minimum altitude specified
for the aircraft category in the circle-to-land maneuver. If you
have to go down to DH in order to get the airport, you have no business
doing a circling approach in the first place. IF you were approaching
DH and got the airport in sight, technically -- for obstacle and
terrain clearance -- you'd have to climb back to the circling altitude
while maintaining the localizer course. In most cases, I'd call
that a missed approach. (By the time you climbed back to the circling
altitude while on the localizer, you would be out of position to
do the circling maneuver : the circle-to-land radius is 1.1, 1.3,
1.5 miles for Cats A-C. You can work the math out for yourself,
but there's no way – flying at 75 - 120 knots -- to climb
600-800 feet from DH (in landing configuration).
I felt much more in control of what was going on. I can see myself
getting through this. I also strongly feel the need to keep on
doing this -- often -- after I get the ticket. These skills are
too hard won to let deteriorate.
Now you know
why I have so much simulator time. Now you know why I have so much
time just going out and practising approaches by myself. Remember
this, Judy dearest: you will likely never be any sharper than the
day you got your instrument rating -- unless you get dy-to-day instrument
rating -- and your instrument currency -- is difficult and expensive
to maintain. THE FARs requiring 6 hours of instrument time and 6
approaches to minimums is JUST a minimum requirement. To be really
good at it requires continuing practice. It is astute of you to
make this observation...
anoint you with the power to be my backup conscience on this issue
and remind me to get back up in the air as often as possible,
in case I forget how much effort all this has taken.
Like Van Cliburn
is reported to have said, "If I don't practice one day, I know
it. If I don't practice for a week, everyone else knows it."
Keep your name out of the newspapers, Judy. Get checked out in an
airplane you can use to fly during winter months so that you can
do some actual IFR practice of approaches. Be your own conscience.
Like your dentist and gynecologist, visit your local CFI regularly.