5:30 am and the eyes spring open, ready to get moving. I lay in bed thinking I may catch a few more winks but it’s hopeless. Maggie is up and moving from one side of the bed to the other trying her best to indeed convince us that now is the time to get up and get her breakfast. One must be very careful not to let a foot slip out from under the covers otherwise it will be quickly licked in hopes of speeding up the “get out of bed” process.
I shower, dress and make an effort to down a few gulps of orange juice as I get ready to walk the Maggie girl and toss my flight bag in the truck. Its overcast here this morning with a light rain making its presence know with off and on again drops on the windshield. I arrive on time at the flight school and Brian soon follows. By 7:05 we are reviewing the plates for ILS RWY 29 at Chester County (KMQS) and giving a brief look at the GPS RWY 9 at Brandywine (KOQN).
METAR KMQS 011100Z AUTO 18007G17KT 360V010 2 1/2SM RA OVC006 13/13 A3004
METAR KMQS 011120Z AUTO 18009G21KT 010V010 5SM BR OVC005 13/13 A3004 RMK AO2
As I complete my pre-taxi and run up I notice the ceiling closing in. The Elite RC-1 Sim has me sitting on runway two seven ready to depart as Brian brings down the cloud level and is so happy, in an evil sort of way, to introduce me to sim wind. Winds are set from the south at 8 -10 knots with gusts of 17-21. I quickly notice the wind on takeoff and as if this sim wasn’t sensitive enough I really have my hands full holding course and maintaining my climb. As usual I am directed to a heading of 000* and altitude of 2500’. Once at altitude I am given vectors to the ILS 29 approach at Chester County. Somehow the localizer comes alive, God only knows how I got here but I’m turning inbound and below glide slope (GS). Ok, Turn, time, twist. Throttle and talk; I’m turning inbound but not timing until the Outer Marker ‘Moses’, I twist heading bug on my DG to course 293*, check throttle setting to maintain 90 knots with first notch of flaps and no talk today since we are not doing radio work.
I normally would call out left or right of course and my location relative to the GS but I was having a heck of time just trying to maintain my wind correction on the ILS and keeping my scan going. It’s looking pretty ugly I think but I am still tracking inbound. I'm finally starting to settle the localizer needle and correcting my altitude to not drop below 2400’. I started the timer as I passed the OM and completed my landing checks without grabbing my checklist (I didn’t want to read/distract myself). Mixture full rich, landing light, fuel pump on, switched to the full tank. My rate of descent is looking good around 500 fpm as I call out altitude and looking for MAP altitude of 910’. My hand is now getting antsy on the throttle as I call out 1000’, 950, 940,920 and 910 going mis…….runway in sight!
I add a second notch of flaps, take a deep breath and reduce power to set up for my landing. No time to relax, I need to land in this cross wind. It’s not a pretty landing but the sim aircraft will fly again as I raise flaps and start to slow for a right hand exit to the taxiway. We review the approach, what was good, what needs attention and he adds that I did good considering the wind, gusts and turbulence he tossed in. I must have rolled my eyes because Brian commented that in IFR there is no “smooth” ride, the more you can handle here in the sim the better off you will be.
I get re-set for somewhere between OQN and MQS and shoot the approach again this time holding course much better and making gentle small corrections to compensate for the wind. I did get a little wacky as I broke out at 950’ this time rocking the wings pretty good and betting that my pax would have required the use of the sic sac in the seat pockets.
Brian re-sets again and I am off to try my hand at the GPS 9 Approach into Brandywine (OQN). I set up the Garmin 530 for my approach. I am directed to the ECZEL Initial Approach Fix (IAF). At ECZEL I turn to a course of 178* maintaining 2900’ to the CEFSY fix. No timing here on the GPS approach so I twist the DG heading bug and the CDI to reflect the new course. Throttle is set for 90 knts and I add the first notch of flaps to help me keep stable. No talk required today but this too will eventually add to my work load.
The Garmin 530 gives the new course setting as you get to the fix and I turn left to 88* again flowing through the 5 T’s. I start my descent at 500 fpm and pass through the WACCY FAF just under 2100. Minimum descent altitude (MDA) is 920’ so I call out on course and altitude looking for 920. I am ready for missed if needed and that would be a climbing right turn to 2900 direct to CEFSY and hold. Ok, back to focus on my scan and review my landing checks, mixture full rich, landing light, fuel pump on, switched to the full tank and descent looking good. Altitude 1000, 900, 950, 920…set to go missed and I have the field in sight. I add a second notch of flaps, pull some power and make a good landing.
A very busy lesson today with the need to pick up the pace on my scan and not fixate on the heading. This IR stuff reminds me of the old Ed Sullivan show (showing my age now) when he would have the people that spin/balance multiple plates on the poles. Well, that’s how it feels with the scan when the work load gets busy. It's like running from one plate the Attitude Indicator, making it just in time to reach the far end and put a spin on the Altitude and finally making it just in time to catch the Airspeed as it wobbles out of control. I'm exhausted just thinking abut it! Even though the instruments are grouped in a tight group I feel like I am running back and forth across the stage catching things when they are on the brink of dropping to the floor. Brian tells me I am doing good, handling the workload and that it WILL increase. He reminds me to be patient and keep up with my practice. The pace I am on will allow me to slowly add to the workload. When we get to flying the actual workload will seem a lot less then what I am doing in the sim. I guess it’s like my PPL lesson, baby steps.