IFR Lesson

Musings on another IFR training flight...better than "Learning Tired"

94/05/18 11:05

From: E-Pilot To: DIPLOCAT Judith Bradt

For every bit as frustrating as last Friday was, Sunday made up for it.

Nice when you have one of those days.

...most of the errors I made were related to a listening error and subsequent poor processing: I had prepared for NDB-B, and was cleared for NDB-22. I did remember to flip the chart, and had several miles to the VOR during which I could have looked at the chart to see what it said, but I somehow never flipped the mental switch that said: "Different chart means you'll be doing different procedures. What are they?" So, I had all the key elements of the wrong approach in my head.

This was Saturday, I trust. Yeah, stuff like that should set off alarm bells in the flight deck and pour a steaming cup of coffee in the pilot's lap to wake him/her up. It's hell to be sleeping, only to wake up and discover that you're flying an airplane instead of snoozing at home...

I'm sure you can think of even more potentially dire consequences of this than I can. It's clearly something to process correctly.

Whether I can or not isn't important. :) Unless I make the same mistake. Today. Or tomorrow. Actually, I haven't made that mistake. Yet. I did brief a back course approach and promptly set the inbound course (NOT the front course) into the HSI. That was before Jeppesen started printing the words "FRONT COURSE" on the published BC approaches to remind dummies like me to do it.

Sunday, I flew three very fine approaches. Barbara's discussion with me about power settings and trim really helped -- I had one very stable airplane all the way down. There were some checklist things that I need to work into the routine a little better, but things were coming together in a most satisfying way. I anticipated the wind correction on the LOC; left 10 degrees in there and that held me on course all the way down. The power setting let me concentrate on making the small pitch adjustments I needed to track the GS, which I also did well. It was just so satisfying.

Glad you're starting to get the those little successes. What will help even more is if you get JJ or someone to write down 100 4-digit numbers for you, the first two digits between 00 and 35, the second two from 01-55. Get it? Then take your basic E-6B computer with wind scale on the back -- the kind that you bought when you first started flying and wanted something with which to impress your friends, as it was big enough to be read across the room -- and calculate your wind correction angle based on those numbers (i.e., sample winds).

IF you try this tonight, and over the next few weeks do the same exercise at LEAST once a week, you soon discover that on hearing the wind you'll have an idea of how much of a wind correction angle to apply initially when starting an approach. It won't be correct, usually, but it's also a great place to start. The added bonus of it: you start the approach thinking about making wind correction angles AND you're actually using a correction. This translates into reality by helping you avoid chasing the localizer all the way down to minimums.

You'll also discover that when you have a strong Headwind component, you will tend to go below the glideslope; with a tailwind, above the G/S. Something to adjust your descent rate for, huh?

IFR is very intellectual; very mental. That's why I like it so much. It wasn't until I was nearly through the NDB-wall that I realized this had very little to do with flying; it was all mental concept: where are you? Where do you want to be? How do you get there?

Yes it is. Glad you discovered this. It's the same as sex: engage the brain.

I even had time to breathe.

That helps. Seriously, you get to a point of hypoxia when you get really uptight and anxious when flying: there's no tissue oxygen perfusion when you're taking shallow breaths at some altitude higher than sea level. Get up to 10,000' in bad weather and you have to FORCE yourself to remember to breathe. Deeply.

You know, like when you run, you pay attention to your breathing? I was able to be relaxed enough to take more than shallow breaths while flying the approaches. It was nice.

You'll be relaxed when you can fly AND monitor your instructor's breathing. (Seriously!)

That's a game I occasionally play: when flying, what else can I incorporate into my flying to stay aware of what's happening around me.

Sometimes, I'll try to listen to the controller VOICE -- not the words -- to see if I notice anything unusual. With our radios, that's quite a challenge -- but actually I've been able to tell when a controller has the sniffles or a cold.

This "game" really extends the mental game of flying: knowing at all times where you are, what's going on around you, and who (or what) else is in the immediate area. I listen to ATC sectors we traverse to get an idea what traffic is in the area. (Yesterday I heard N5220G, a Beaver I used to fly in Alaska which recently was located at Kenmore Air Harbor, near Seattle.) Doing this helps me to look for air traffic 'cause I have a mental map of the area and the approaches used by all the airports, and form the mental picture of traffic relative to us.

Recently, I wrote about clearances -- CVMRS -- and may not have mentioned that the fastest way to pick up clearance speed is to use the trick controllers use: sit down and copy clearances for an hour. If you can get to IAD or DCA with a small radio capable of picking up the clearance delivery frequency, this exercise will help you develop speed, accuracy, and comprehension.

Next: IFR Routings

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