Saturday, May 9, 2009

Approaches (Simulated)

Different day, different time. I went out to the airport Tuesday evening hoping to get in some actual instrument time, and nearly got through the preflight before we decided to cancel. The weather in the Northeast has been terrible for flying over the past week. I rescheduled for Friday at 11:00AM.

The weather for Friday was forecast to be IFR with embedded thunderstorms. What a pleasant surprise to find the sun shinning. I got to the airport on time, briefed what we wanted to do and I went out to preflight. I still had a few nagging questions that the CFII patiently answered. Ground procedures at a non towered field are finally coming together.

Objectives: Practice flying in an IFR environment.

It had been a long time. I remembered to put my kneeboard on but forgot to take my time copying the simulated clearance. Frustrating to be unable to even copy and readback a clearance correctly, but even here helpful tips about local procedures filled in gaps on what to expect from ATC.

The takeoff and climb out were normal, although warmer temperatures and higher humidity had an effect on performance. It was about this point when the airplane started to get out in front of me. I had not made the mental adjustment to go from VFR to IFR flying. I was concentrating on checklists and hand flying the plane when I should have engaged the autopilot and begun setting up for the next event. So while I concentrated on pushing the "Done" button on the MFD I wasn't working on the procedures necessary to fly the plane in IFR conditions. Aviate/Navigate/Communicate; all suffered.

...but, I learned. Slowly. First the ILS into KABE, Accepted radar vectors, played with the GNS430, and really worked on the relationship between the autopilot and the approach, which was the point of the whole flight. Understanding what the autopilot is programed to do fly the approach for both precision and non-precision approaches.

The ILS went fine but the missed not so well. When it came time to enter holding I was unsure of the entry. Why? I didn't know the outbound holding course. Why? I struggled to find it on the chart. Ah, but the root cause was that I failed to brief the approach! You can play with the toys but the fundamentals can't be ignored. This would bite me again over at Quakertown. Once the CFII helped me find the right chart view, the holding entry calculation was obviously a teardrop. The airplane flew it perfectly.

We left holding and flew to KUKT for a non precision approach with a procedural turn. I was only slightly behind the airplane as I set up the communications and navigation radios. Anxious to get the autopilot set, I pushed the approach button on the outbound leg which told it I was ready for steering for the final approach course. Correcting that, the airplane flew a beautiful procedural turn to set us up for the inbound course. Without an approach brief (which should have been done in the previous holding pattern) I got confused looking for the MDA on the charts.

Enough fun for today, we wisely opted for a visual approach at home base. I was able to use the system to load the airport view and plan for the entry. The approach was high, I made good corrections and a nice landing.

Wow, what a wakeup call! In a previous life this would have been a 'down'. Fortunately I can be educated and am anxious for another try at this.

Time = 1.9 hours.

1 comment:

  1. Nice writeup. Good to see you were able to get out in the weather breaks. I'm having an aviation week comming up. Flying Tuesday 7am-9am, then Tuesday night as a safety pilot from 5pm-8pm, then Wed at the airport again for a FlyBQ meeting, Friday night picking up incoming arrivals for the FlyBQ, Saturday is the FlyBQ at wings (lunch about 12-2pm), and Sunday I"m taking my wife up from 12-3pm. What a week! Hopefully after 9 straight days of Rain we can hope for 9 straight days of good flying weather.

    Sounds like you are doing well with that fast Plane, both inside and out. Keep it up!