Why IFR

I thought about whether to get the instrument rating, as I was concerned about spending a lot of time and money on a rating that I wouldn't have the time and money to stay current with. This exchange took place as I began to seek the rating.

93/08/06 12:26
From: E-Pilot To: DIPLOCAT Judith Bradt

Well, I'm glad that you've decided to get with the instrument program. Precision in your instrument flying will mean that your landings and takeoffs will get much better. Of your two choices, given those of doing more circuits and cross-country or getting your instrument ticket, the latter will help you much more in the former than the former will help the latter.

Next time that you fly X-C after you get your instrument ticket, you'll find that you'll be able to plan your flight easier, get there under positive radar control (with all the traffic separation
ATC can give at the moment), and you won't have any anxiety about getting lost, weather...

Between the time I wrote my original note and the time of your reply, I decided that I would borrow the cash I need to fund the ticket, just as I did for the basic license. I think that's the best way to get good experience and exposure to new things that will help me push the edge of the envelope. And get scared sometimes. And learn.

YES! Well, I'm glad that you decided to stop wasting money doing circuits. Remember my admonition that the more complex the aircraft and its instruments, the easier it will be to fly -- especially if you have either an HSI/ADI (Attitude display indicator) or a flight director.

While weekday prices are cheaper, I'm considering that against how much concentration I have left at the end of the usual work day here, and how much study time needs to support the flying hours. I recall you said somewhere between 3 and 6 to 1. I think I could do two lessons a week -- perhaps one weekday night and one weekend slot -- if I am prepared properly.

You can't fly without the study, and you certainly will NOT maximize the learning experience if you are NOT mentally prepared, i.e., thinking about what you are going to do BEFORE you actually get into the airplane. You will profit little from your lessons if you're not adequately prepared.

I had to study eight hours for every hour of flight; in addition, as I was flying a Baron while getting my instrument ticket, I needed about three hours of time before every flight to mentally rehearse
the flight manoeuvers -- thinking through the manoeuvers, mentally shutting down an engine while on approach, deciding whether to abandon the approach until the shutdown checklist was accomplished or continuing.

Keep in mind that the school I attended wouldn't let you even begin flying until you'd completed the examination successfully, and finished the manadatory ten hours of simulator training.Maybe this doesn't sound like much, but I was flying every other or every third day back in 1975.

In order to get one hour of flight, it would go something like this:

I'd spend about 3-4 hours before the flight preparing myself for what I'd do in the lesson -- reviewing lesson plans, drilling myself on engine shutdown procedures, emergency gear extension, electrical failures, loss of flight instruments, etc, etc. I'd relax for an hour. I'd do flight plans and weather, etc, etc -- about an hour -- then pre-flight the aircraft (usually about 35 minutes). Pre-flight briefing would take an hour; I'd file my flight plan, then we'd depart. The lesson was usually about 2.0 - 2.5 hours. I'd secure the airplane; we'd de-brief about 1 - 1.5 hours. (I made lots of notes.) I'd hurry home and mentally go through each manoeuver and approach, procedures, set-up and execution: I'd make extensive notes. What went right; what went wrong; how I thought I did; how HE thought I did. I'd write down lessons learned; observations;
ATC/IFR procedures learned, reviewed and/or discussed. (Remember that I was an air traffic controller, so I had somewhat of an advantage.) This usually took about 3 - 4 hours. Then, I'd study instrument rating books (Kirschner, Taylor, Buck, FAA, etc, etc) at about a rate of about 8:1 for every flight hour. Eight hours of hard study for every hour of flight. (Skim, highlight, read,
review, make notes.)

Of course, I was a full-time student doing this and was totally immersed in my work. That approach was successful for me. There's good and bad news in this for you.

While you may not be able to give quite so much time to this, it means you'll have to work harder. Fortunately, that doesn't sound like a problem for you. The study demanded of you means that you'll have to approach this much in the same way as attending university, except that the vast majority of your time will be spent in pursuit of vocation instead of classroom lectures: the flying and flight- study are just added to the schedule. That's the bad news.

The good news is that doing this all at once means that you'll be done with it that much faster. Allowing, of course, that you've completed your written examination successfully.

From your most recent letter:

After two very good simulator sessions, I have a question for you. Some time ago, you mentioned that at one point you had to have a professional help you take your scan apart and put it back together properly.

My recommendation would be to use the attitude indicator for everything -- it helps when you find one that is 4" or 5" instead of 3" (One of the other examples of bigger being better!). Use the
other "primary" instruments to set and stabilize performance within limits; after you are stabilized in whatever manoeuver you're doing, use your peripheral vision to confirm that continued performance. The attitude indicator is important because you're going to use that for pitch and roll control.

Being the astute pilot that you are, you know that -- 1. a one degree pitch change will give a climb/descent rate approximately equal to your airspeed in miles per minute times 100;
2. a standard rate turn can be calculated to be equal to airspeed (in knots) divided by ten, then ADD 7 to the result. Thus, at 120 knots a std rate turn would be 19 degrees of bank. Half-
standard rate would be one-half that, or 10 degrees. (Don't worry about half std rate until you're flying jets.)

I would prefer not to have him assume that because I am getting through the lessons with good results that whatever scan I use must be working. I do not want to get into complex manoeuvres and THEN discover that my problem is my scan.

It is VERY important to master, repeat, master the basics before beginning approaches. As a CFII, I have repeatedly found pilots who could not fly approaches because they never mastered the basic manoeuvers.

Not surprisingly, I find it difficult to watch everything at once, and following the prescribed approach is sometimes tricky.

Remember me telling you that so much of getting good at flying is "flying in a relaxed state of sharpened awareness"? This is especially true pertaining to instrument navigation/approaches. If
you get to a point where you fly the AI and watch the rest peripherally -- and can make accurate changes in configuration, heading/airspeed/power/descent/climb/turns without taking your
attention from the AI -- you'll be getting there. The trick is to make the flying secondary to the head game.

Making the accurate, precise flying secondary to the head game allows you to be thinking -- well in advance -- of the approach steps such as letdown fixes, crossing altitudes, MDA/DH (or is it DA?) etc, etc, not to mention that the airplane is ready (flaps, power, frequencies, etc, etc). The successful head game means you won't be surprised by missed approaches or ATC or surly FAA examiners.

Remember that I took my instrument training in a twin-engine airplane, a fast one at that. Not only was I doing the instrument flying, I was involved with engine failures/fires and shutdown
checklists while on approach; cranking the gear down; instrument failures, etc. Usually while in night IMC. We had actual icing to contend with, too, what with large CU and/or CB lurking about,
imbedded in the CS or stratiform stuff. Don't be a passenger: be a pilot. Get your head out ahead of the airplane.

This comes with practice and a great deal of experience. Don't worry about it happening because it will happen -- but only if you're mentally prepared to fly each flight.

Yes, I too find that approaches are tricky. Flying a three-axis aircraft in three dimensions -- four, if you include TIME -- in an ever-changing terrestrial environment (where winds are ALWAYS
changing -- particularly as you climb, descend or turn). Throw in a little orographic turbulence or wind shear to add to the fun. And, as you get frustrated in your lessons, keep in mind that you must always remember that FLYING IS FUN. When you note that you're getting frustrated, remember that you're having fun. Right?

Sigh. Somedays, I can't seem to find my butt with both hands in my back pockets and someone giving me hints as to what it is that I'm feeling. Every once in a while, the needles remain motionless, and I marvel that I ever have any problems flying an approach.

The difference lies in mental preparation and what we call situational awareness -- knowing where you are and what is happening around you. When I find myself in difficulty in an approach, it is
usually because I didn't plan well enough for the approach or started the procedure without thinking. Single pilot approaches without benefit of EFIS is difficult. I don't envy you your
experience right now, because there's a lot to master and you're learning without the equipment which makes it much, much easier. What you're experiencing right now is about as difficult as it gets. That's a reassurance, though. It WILL get easier with experience and better equipment. (Especially when you can get into an airplane equipped with an HSI and RMI.)

Nothing is automatic -- no matter how many times you've shot an ILS to minimums.

However, I'm still working on fine-tuning my setup of the power and pitch so that I'm not playing with the approach speed and glideslope too much (ideally, at all).

So am I, so am I. You will never -- repeat, never -- fly an approach where you aren't adjusting power/pitch to maintain a glideslope. Even without wind, a descent of 1000' results in
getting into warmer, more dense air -- which changes both airspeed AND engine thrust. What you're hoping for is a physical impossibility, woman. So, forget it.

Somehow, I think when I get that nailed, it will be easier to concentrate on the localizer.

Your attention SHOULD be on the AI -- no matter what. Try it. Fly the AI and make whatever corrections on the AI (remembering that it lags a little, particulary in older vacuum-driven gyro instruments typical in older training airplanes) to correct for changes in and/or to maintain the localizer and glideslope being centered. THAT'S why I suggested to you to get into an airplane with an ADI and HSI. First of all, those instruments are AC electric: very fast, very accurate. Secondly, using an ADI/HSI, the localizer and glideslope are superimposed on the AI -- thus your scan doesn't have to be divided elsewhere. It's SOOOOOOOO much easier to use, woman.

An added PLUS of having an ADI/HSI is that the airplane usually has an RMI -- which makes intercepts of bearings and radials much easier AND affords you (with two RMI needles which can be interchanged for either VOR or ADF) a backup for knowing exactly where you are at all times. Too bad I can't demonmstrate this for you out. You'll have to come out here and ride jumpseat with me on a flight so that I can demonstrate.

One other added plus of having an ADI/HSI/RMI is that they are usually installed in a high performance aircraft (a complex airplane). It's faster, usually a lot more stable, and even though
things happen faster, you don't have to get vectored around so damned much to stay out of the way of faster traffic. Less time being vectored means more approaches -- which equates to more BANG for the BUCK.

For the moment, however, my scan starts to scatter as I get closer in on the ILS. Otherwise, I use the AI as a>centrepoint, and radiate from there; I try to alter which>instruments get checked more frequently depending on the>thing I'm trying to do and the instruments that are primary for performance and control of that move.

Well, there's two schools of thought about flying (and teaching) precision approaches. One says that the approach head (NDB or CDI) is your primary instrument in any approach; the other, that the AI is primary in all cases. The makers of modern avionics and instruments favor the latter over the former -- hence, the G/S and course/runway bars for a VOR/ILS approach are superimposed on the ADI (and repeated on the HSI) for ease of approach navigation. Taken another step, with the glass cockpit, the EADI and EHSI incorporate everything right in front of you.

Our Falcon 10 had a completely new avionics suite, the latest in everything new in 1987. (If we'd had a new airframe, it would have been a Falcon 100 as we had the bigger engines, the ompletely
overhauled avionics, aircraft interior, etc, etc.)
On the EADI, you had the horizon with bank and pitch markers, course bars, G/S bar, A/S, VSI; there was a heading indicator; a symbol was provided for the VOR and NDB facilities as you got within a certain range. We would see the "cone" for fan markers (OM, MM, and IM). In the case of the ILS, two "plane" bars were added (in magenta) to display your vertical and horizontal guidance to the runway which corresponded to the G/S and localizer -- eventually, the runway -- bars. (When you got within a certain range, an airport symbol was added with the localizer bar/plane guidance and closer yet, a runway bar was displayed which became increasingly larger as you got closer and lower. Precision approaches were very easy to fly.

Like I said, the more complex the aircraft, the easier they are to fly -- especially when it comes to approaches.An option my company chose NOT to add was an electronic repeater of weather information, though we could (and did) superimpose radar returns on the EHSI. Today, the EADI and EHSI both display radar weather echos AND TCAS TAs and CRs (traffic advisories and conflict resolutions).

The Jetstream, on the other hand, has nothing but steam gauges and a poor flight director. I use the flight director almost religiously, but have flown of late with nothing but raw data. (I cannot imagine having to fly a precision approach using a separate CDI.)

Do continue your instrument training -- it's a step which will pay off handsomely.

Next: Inflight decisions

Judy & JJ
 
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