Mary and I are planning an overnight to the Boston area and I thought it would be a good idea to knock out a few approaches for practice. I haven't flown an approach in actual or simulated instrument conditions since my check ride the end of August. The phrase "use it or loose it" really applies to the IFR ticket. Anyone can keep current but being proficient is the key to being safe.
I got word form Mike B this past Tuesday that he passed the CFII ride! CONGRATS MIKE !!!!!
Mike is always available for safety pilot time and it's greatly appreciated. Whenever we fly together shooting approaches he keeps me on the needles and always thinking ahead. I have to start stepping up on my end when I'm in the right seat, in other words try and torture him a bit more. Last night we caught up after work so I could get some practice in. It was a gorgeous night and I was going to waste it under the foggles. The plan was to depart Wilmington and head north west to KMQS, Chester County then to KEVY, Summit and finally back home to KILG.
The Garmin 496 GPS was illuminated with yellow rings and hash marks around Philadelphia and Wilmington for the scheduled TFR's due to the Presidential activity scheduled for Friday. However, our VP decided he was bugging out of town and had an impromptu departure in the works. Peter in the tower gave me a heads up as we were departing runway nine about the TFR within the hour. Great, I climbed out and pointed towards MQS.
I was in simulated instrument conditions at six hundred feet turning left on course and setting up the Garmin 530 for the ILS 29 approach. I was given (role play ATC by Mike)direct CERTS at two thousand five hundred and was on my way. Once approaching CERTS I was directed to expect vector for the ILS 29. I was rusty, it showed, but I managed to find my way and get to the runway. At this point I went missed and climbed back out to the MXE-Modena VOR. Round two was better and this one ended in a full stop so we could re-evaluate the TFR situation at Wilmington. I once again made a call to flight service and checked the FAA TFR web page, everything was showing exactly as I had noted prior to our flight. I even made a quick call to our Op's vehicle to confirm the TFR since Flight Service didn't get any info or have any additional to share.
We passed on a dinner stop at Chester County and agreed on a few more approaches then dinner at EATS, it's become a tradition. We soon launched into the night sky and proceeded to Summit. I had filed while on the ground so we would have a back up plan if I needed to get into Wilmington, a "just in case" tool in the box. I followed vectors from Mike as we listened to Air Force 2 climb out of Wilmington on the Comm 2 radio and pick up with Philly Approach. Mike tossed everything but the kitchen sink at me making my workload very busy.
I shot the GPS 17 approach into Summit and went missed climbing out for a few laps in the hold at WENDS. Mike increased my workload by giving me an amended clearance to copy (a long one) as I was busy turning in the hold. I was making notes working the scan and at the point of overload when Mike reminded me who the Pilot In Charge (PIC)was. Mike suggested to advise ATC to standby, fly the plane, then copy the clearance when your ready. Good point, well taken and added to my "learning" process. I intercepted the inbound heading and made a few laps in the hold and was pleased with the work.
Next up I plugged in direct KILG and entered the GPS 27 approach. I was now heading north east and contacted Philly approach (for real, not role play). I provided my info and requested the GPS 27 approach. Philly provided a squawk code and advised direct Woodstown (OOD) at 2,500. I actually had my first true scare flying. Yep, a real pucker factor and that flash pain that rips through you. 08Romeo dropped out then went up and the wings rocked pretty hard....I honestly froze for a second then held the yoke steady and did a hard scan of instruments and gauges. We were in the green, right side up, all the big parts where they should be and back on the smooth ride to Woodstown. Heck, I thought maybe we had flown through someones jet wash but Mike hadn't said a word about traffic. I was still under the foggles and at that point Mike explained where we flew (directly over the cooling tower)and I confirmed on the GPS with the tip of the Salem Nuclear power plant property having just passed beneath us. Fun stuff huh? Ok, what happened to my seat cushion?
The rest of the flight was uneventful as I acknowledged Philly approach maintaining at or above 2,100 at Woodstown, cleared GPS 27 into Wilmington. I flew the needles centered and felt back on my game having knocked off the rust from two months. I made an ok landing but struggled with the lack of landing lights on the Sundowner. I am looking into adding another wing tip landing/taxi light on the right wing or at the very least an additional light in the left wing tip. I sure would like an LED landing light or some type of nose wheel light or light in the cowling.
2 night landings
Tracking and a Hold