Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Instrument Cross Country

Whew, what a long day!

I was scheduled for my Instrument cross country at 11:30, I was awake since 4 am and went through my preflight a dozen times. Mary wanted to give me that V8 juice smack on the forehead so I would stop tossing and turning but she gave up. My Bride gave me a kiss goodbye as she headed into work around 7:30 and I continued with my wx and nav log sheets. I finally decided, after multiple reviews that everything was covered, checked and rechecked it was time for a shower. I was ready to head to the airport on what seemed like a record pace. Of course I ran through all my stuff just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I must give credit where due; I had purchased the IFR Flight File from and it really helped organize what I needed for my trip, I reccomend it to any new IFR pilots. Finally, I was packed and headed south when it hit me, I forgot my batteries for the E6B, ahhh the manual version is always reliable and needs no batteries, keep trucking south to Wilmington.

I had previously ordered fuel on my last return home so I only needed to sump for this task. I quickly uncovered and stowed my gear, I was really feeling excited about flying, like it was a checkride prep flight. The Tiger tied down across from me taxied out and I followed suit in short order. I was headed to runway one four for my departure. I was asked to hold in position just shy of the taxiway that leads me to runway nine for an Army Blackhawk landing at his ramp. There was no traffic behind me so I completed my runup. No sooner I was reviewing my checklist I was asked to change to runway nine at the taxiway I was holding short, no problem 679er taxi to runway niner at kilo five. A final check of the door, flaps, mixture, pump and lights has me advising the tower that Archer 679er is ready to go runway niner at Kilo five. I'm cleared for take off and 679er jumps into the air, we are both ready for today's next step in the Instrument rating process.

A smooth landing at Brandywine (KOQN) and a short taxi to tie down. Brian and I reviewed my fight plans, check the computer wx forecast and he listened in on my call to flight service for a briefing on weather, flight restrictions and file my flight plans, all three legs. Everything checked out and the flight plan call went ok. The briefer kept telling me my route to IPT was not correct, he didn't accept direct to pottstown (PTW). I thoguth this was bizarre but hey it was my first time calling for an IFR plan. Brian confirmed my plans and questioned what the briefers concern was. I guess I dropped the ball since I thought he finally acceptd what I gave him. We shall see when I request clearence.

Brian checked my fuel in 679er and we saddled up. I taxied out and completed my run up so I would be ready for my release. I held short of runway nine and made my call.

ME: Philly Clearance, Archer 28679er, at Brandywine, IFR to Williamsport
PHL: Archer 28679er advise ready to copy
ME: Ready to copy, Archer 2879er

C- Cleared to Williamsport
A- 3000 expect 6000 in 10 minutes
F- 128.4 (departure radio frequency)
T- 4234 (squawk code)


I read back what I copied and added departing runway nine, I was given "read back correct, advise ready for release" by Philly. I quickly advised ready for release and I was given a release with a void time of four minutes. Philly clearence advised my void time was 1638, time now 1634 if not off by 1638 call clearance to advise. I flipped back to CTAF and announced my departure on runway nine at Brandywine. I was climbing out to 3000 and made my brandywine traffic call advising departure to the south. I then flipped back to Philly departure and checked in with, "Phlilly Departure, Archer 28679er off Brandywine, 2,200 climbing 3000 dirct modena". Philly reqested a climb to 5000 and direct PTW, they also came back and vectored me for traffic then got me back on course. I was having a blast! Nervous as all heck but having fun!

Enroute was really nice,listen for your call acknowledge instructions and comply. If you use flight following you will handle the Instrument enroute no problems. We followed the course and Wilkes-Barre approached asked me if I wanted vectors for the ILS 27 at Williamsport. I confirmed I would take the vectors, life made easy. After a series of heading changes I was told to maintain a certain altitude until intercepting the ILS. I did and was then handed over to the tower. I had to report the Final Approach Fix "Picture Rocks" also an NDB, inbound. I had the NDB already tracking and watchd it swing as I passed the station. I reported my position and was cleared to land on runway two seven. I am still unwinding here so if I missed a call or two while typing this don't hold it against me. I made a really nice landing into Williamsport and have come to the conclusion that the plastic foggles were messing with my vision. I wore my regular glasses with the flip "overcasters" and I landed with no crazy sensation of being in the fast forward mode.

We made a nature stop here while I checked the wx for the next leg and settled up the fuel bill. I wanted to top off for the remaining legs of the journey. Instrument flight requiers 45 minutes in reserve fuel not counting the fuel needed to fly to an alternate of necessary, according to the 1-2-3 rule. I had everything plotted out and marked on my low enroute chart, I also had the alternate airport flight plan on the same sheet as the flight plan for each specific leg, I know, anal retentive. One of my radio bloopers toady was during my taxi off the runway. I was directed to switch to ground and I did then given direction to make a left turn on bravo and a right turn on Hotel. I spewed something like left turn golf (the taxiway I was on) and right tune on bravo, or somehting stupid like that. In good ole Reverend Jim fassion (tv show taxi) the ground controller repeated in slow motion, how embarassing. I could not help but laugh as I repeated to him in the same voice and speed, we all got a chuckle out of that. As Brian said, good thing that wasn't ILG, they would not let you forget that one, he was right.

I sumped my tanks and we saddled up for Tri-Cities (KCZG) just south west of Binghamton, NY. I advised I was at Degol Jet Center, IFR to Tri-Cities. The info was exchanged and this was what I copied.

C - Cleared Tri-Cities
R- As Filed
A- 4000 expect 7000 in 10 minutes
F- 124.9
T- 4277


I once again got the read back correct and I advised I was ready for release. I had to wait a few, but not to long thenwe were off. I taxied to runway one two via taxiway Juliet and we were launching for KCZG. I was cleared to 7000 in short order and turned on course to Tri-Cities. My plan was to shoot the VOR - A into CZG and knock out a second "kind" of instrument approach. I was offered vectors from Binghamton and I accepted knowing I was going to shoot the VOR-A back at Brandywine, with no vectors. The approach dumps you right at the point where you can enter the left down wind for runway 13 or cross midfield and enter the downwind for 31. I know, it's circle to land but you all follow my line of thinking here. Anywho, I "circle to land" and it was pretty smooth and rounded very nice with a good 180* turn. You have to watch the surrounding hills and not stray far from the runway. Again a smooth landing and short roll out as I taxied off. I closed my flight plan on the ground with Binghamton Approach and taxied to the ramp to get set up for the next leg, CZG to ABE Allentown.

I taxied out, and contacted clearence at the same sweet spot I was able to call them from on my taxi in. Again the use of CRAFT to copy my info makes life so easy.

C- Cleared to Allentown (Class 'C' airport)
R - Radar Vectors LVZ As Filed Maintain obstruction clearence (a new twist)
A- 4000 expect 6000 in 10 minutes
F- Departure on 118.6
T- Squawk 4215


I advised ready for release and we were soon off. It was a straight out climb making sure I cleared the surrounding hills, once clear and local traffic advised of my direction of departure I flipped to the departure frequency and contacted Binghamton. I advised off of Tri-Cities, my altitude and climbing to 4000 . Enroute time, time to review and work my plan setting up the radio and vor's as needed. I am waiting on getting a bit closer so I can copy the Allentown ATIS, I know I'm a bit anxious. Brian and I chit chat about flying, lessons and what remains for my rating. Brian decides to fail my GPS and I get on the VOR tracking, I have them set as my back up anyway. I actually tracked the VOR's better then the dang GPS. I flip to cross reference intersections with other VOR's, fun stuff.

After working our way well south of Wilkes-Barre we get handed off to Allentown. I get my GPS back in time so I can shoot the GPS 6 approach. It all flows very smooth except for a missed altitude readback in the middle of the GPS clearence and all the other stuff that was spewed out. Point taken and I'll do better. Finally switched to the tower and I shoot a low approach only. I get cut lose to maintain VFR back to Brandywine, but keep the squawk code.

Eventually Allentown dumps me and I trudge onward to the Modena VOR MXE for another VOR-A approach with a hold. Altitude and heading are correct and I brief with a note that my entry will be direct all the while drawing the invisible line on the approach plate for a teardrop entry, which was correct. Brian asked what are doing for an entry, show me. I made the trace with my finger indicating a teardrop and said teardrop the second time. I then realized what I had said the first time, I'm getting tired.

I entered in a teardrop and turned outbound at 200* for one minute then turned inbound for the 56* heading. The vor and headiong indicator needles swung in unison, it was a beautiful site and a fitting end to such a fun day. I was so happy I hit that on the button that I forgot my timer, what a dipstick, ok track in and drop down to the circling altitude. How do I know I'm there? I use the GPS and guesstimate, I flipped the foggles as I was almost to the down wind base point for runway niner, great timing. I circle to land on nine, corrected for squaring off the pattern and not maintaining the circling concept. I cut back the power, add flaps and once again make another fine landing,

In review, 5.4 hours on the hobbs $475, 6 hours instructor time $330, landing at two new airports and the learning experience PRICELE$$ !


Rob said...

All that flying,.. and no Pics... You need to get Brian to get one of you concentrating on the flight, or some of that nice scenery you flew past today. Great post, sounds like a lot of fun seeing it all come together. Checkride's coming up soon?

Gary said...

As soon as I pass my test!

Anonymous said...

Gary, great stuff. I am glad to hear your trip went well. We are so close in our training. I have my IFR x-country this weekend.

Steve said...

Still catching up on my blog-reading with all the travel... but congrats on the X-C!

I'm having plenty of fun just going VFR right now, but reading stuff like this makes me look forward to adding the IR in the next couple of years too.

Theresa said...

How random, I was trying to settle a debate so I googled "report the final approach fix" and this came up. You mention ILG- I was a controller there but left in August 2008. Your blog is making me nostalgic, I miss the East Coast and liked working at that facility.

Gary said...

Theresa, Thanks for checking in. I'm sure we had many exchanges while you were there. Lately there seems to be so many new voices in the tower, quite a turn over.

I work for the DRBA and did work in the tower, leaks and a foggy window. I'm in the engineering department. All the names have changed working in Op's too, hard to keep up with everyone these days.

Are you still doing ATC work?

T said...

I think I remember your archer, it sounds familiar. I am still a controller but I'm in the Seattle area now. I also worked at MTN but that was in 2006, not sure if you ever fly through there. I really liked all of the people that were at ILG back in 2007-2008 but I think there are only 3 0r 4 people that are still there, everyone else just seems to pass through.

The turnover rate everywhere seems to be pretty high right now. So many new young people, I'm only 31 and I feel ancient, lol.

I'm impressed at how you have kept up with your blog all of this time. It seems like there is a lot of good information on here that other pilots could use.

T said...

I just looked at your profile and noticed you have an Italian mastiff. I have an English mastiff- love my dog. I think Mastiffs have the best disposition, their personalities are so sweet.

Gary said...

The Archer I flew in 08 was N28679. I fly the Sundowner N6708R now.

The only unmistakeable voice in the tower these days is Peter. I'm not even sure who is the tower manager these days.

Yes, Maggie is our Italian Mastiff, a real sweet heart. She flys with us every weekend in the summer when we go back/forth to ocean city, md. You can find her pictures and our three cats scattered through-out the blog.