Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Unusual Attitudes.....

Unusual attitudes, and I don't mean "my" attitude! Today's lesson was instrument flight rules (IFR). Following a pre flight we saddled up for some IFR time with those funky glasses. I was directed to climb out to 1200' then turn out to a specific heading and new altitude (3000') . As we climbed out and approaching 1000' my CFI advises his plane, I acknowledge and he confirms (always a smooth transfer). I trade controls for a pair of foggles, then we transfer control of the aircraft back to me. Climbing through 1200' minding the noise abatement I depart N99 on the crosswind to the SW.

I really seem to be on top of it today, maintaining heading and altitude despite the bumps! My CFI vectors me as we role play ATC and pilot in the clouds. This is a change for me since at work I get to play bad cop worse cop with contractors.........Ok, well maybe not always bad/worse.

We once again transfer control as Bill asks me to put my head down and close my eyes. I remember this from one of my first lessons at Millville. I also remember I had no clue what we were doing as I guessed at engine sounds and forces on the body, but that was so long ago. Bill mixed it up and I just tried to focus on being loose and trying to sit straight. With transfer of the controls I quickly assessed the aircrafts attitude. We were in a 15* bank left slight nose high. I slowly rotated right and eased the nose down and checked my power setting. Once stabilized I trimmed out and my CFI took control again. This time I took control in a left bank in a decent @700-800 ft/min . I slowly or gently rotated right as I corrected the decent again checking power and trimming when wings level. We went through a few more rounds and then moved to VOR work with climbs and decents.

I was directed to proceed to the Modena (MXE) VOR and he used some phrase that I can't remember to proceed to intercept the ILS for runway 29 at Chester County 40N. Ok, should be easy enough, I tune in the MXE VOR ID it then dial in a direct to radial on the CDI. I find the 240* to center the needle and hey what do you know I'm headed 240* on the Heading Indicator. So far so good, direct to MXEteady on course and ALT solid. The it hits me, Bill asks how are we looking? um.....er........ahhhhh.........searching everything, the bulb does not light. Ok, out loud I state, ALT 2500', steady on course 240 direct .........CRAPPP!!! FROM MXE. Bill asks where are we......we are headed South West "away" from MXE. I dial the CDI 180* to a heading of 60* TO MXE as I already started my course correction. I take my right hand and hit myself in the head just to remind myself DON'T ASSUME!!!! He set me up very easy and he got me. Lesson learned, check, check and triple check, just because it MAY look right does not make it right.

With the MXE behind me, checking, yes behind me, I concentrate on my ILS approach to runway 29 at Chester County 40N. Tracking the ILS for 29 I have a steady needle and easing on the power to start a decent from 2500. Still on course, I pitch down slightly to see movement on the glideslope indication. Ok almost on target, minor corrections a few degrees, trading off chasing the needle for rock solid a tick off center knowing I have some crosswind action going on. My rate of decent is 300-500 ft/min looking good and on course.....Bill tells me to look up under the glasses and check out my location to the runway. I was just slightly right of centerline at 1100' and room to get into position with out a problem on final. WAY COOL !!! We make the loop and I have at it again. Pretty much same results but this time I didn't "not" check the to/from headed to MXE.

Bill directs me to take us home so I again dial in a direct TO modena (MXE) and set up #2 for the outbound 54* radial that will take me home in only 6 short miles from the VOR. I cross the VOR and pick up the 54* FROM radial and drop off the last few hundred feet to get to pattern altitude. I am instructed to remove the foggles and get us on the ground. I announce entry into the downwind on a 45* followed by the left downwind for 27. Lined up nice, running through my checklists I am ready to put this puppy on the runway. I did notice that everything seemed so different after the foggles....maybe it was just me. I throttled back to 1500 added a notch oif flaps and the turned to base. Checking off the right wing for peole that may be sneaking in and centerpunch me I call out a clear right then key to announce final for 27. Crosswinds on turn in but now back and forth headwind crosswind. I feel I'm a bit high so I pull a bit of power off only to approach flat to the runway. I don't like what I see and add power, as I am about to called a missed Bill says evaluate, plenty of room your not over the numbers, ease out the power, set it up, hold the nose off and "chirps" we're in! He was right, but I didn't like what I was looking at and would have felt better going around. With the winds I landed faster and that was followed by a back taxi to clear 27. I did have plenty of room to land, I guess I just gave up on myself to quickly.

All in all a great lesson! I have about a half hour left of IFR then 3 hours of night flight and 3 hours of checkride prep/review. I scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and I will schedule 3 nights next week around my baseball schedule. I am pretty excited knowing I very well may be flying to Wilkes-Barre, PA with just me and the Bride for the Memorial Holiday weekend !!!!!

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