Monday, March 19, 2012


Tonight was too nice to pass up.  I sent a text to Mike B and asked if he was interested in flying, I wanted to get night current and shoot a few approaches.  Mike was available now and I advised I was on my way.  I didn't think we would make the one hour after sunset for night currency but I still needed to work on keeping my instrument skills proficient.

08Romeo fired up in a few blades and we taxied for departure on one nine.  After turning out on course Mike worked in some vectors with slow flight, adding in altitude changes along the way.  Slow flight was followed by steep turns that were pretty good, crossing through my own wake that also confirmed my altitude was dead on.

Next up was the ILS 10 approach into Millville (KMIV).  I did a real nice job down to the decision height then went missed. The missed tracks to the VCN VOR which provided a lap in the hold and the start of the VOR A approach. I like to keep the Garmin 530 on GPS and track the VOR approach while keeping the #2 CDI set up for the VOR tracking.

A real nice approach with regard to the course but I blew the step down altitude. It called for 1600 feet at VINER and noted the VCN distance was 6.1 miles.  I briefed and called out VCN at 1600, it was 400 feet below the assigned altitude.  Thankfully Mike acting as my safety pilot alerted me and I briefed again and saw the mistake.  Ok, I'm still on course and speed with the corrected altitude, making my way to the field. The approach ended with a great circle to land and an ok landing.

We departed Millville and headed for home. I tuned Philly approach on 119.75 and requested the GPS 27 approach into Wilmington, Philly gave me the "stand by".  A few minutes passed, the controller was really busy, when he contacted me with a squawk code and turned me direct Woodstown. I was good to go and entered the approach on the 530. I actually felt a bit rusty chugging and plugging on the Garmin.  IFR skills, use em or loose em. It was another nice circle to land for runway one niner and a not so nice landing that was a tad firm. Mike treated to dinner at a new place. We enjoyed a very good meal while we debriefed the flight.


Frank Van Haste said...

Hi, Gary!

I found your mistake on the step-down altitude on the VOR-A at MIV to be interesting and cautionary. I know, no harm no foul, but MIV is in flatland and you had a safety pilot handy to keep you honest. There other are times and places where that one could've killed you!

As you know, 99% of my IFR flying is single-pilot. So your story has refocused me on the need to be very serious about briefing and then rechecking the step-downs on non-precision approaches. (One instrument instructor taught me to verbalize "Out of VCN at 2,000, looking for VINER at 1600," or some such.

Important stuff! Thanks for sharing.


Gary said...

Frank: I also verbalize; however, it usually works better when I read the correct info vs repeating the wrong altitude at the wrong fix. The rust was obviously showing.

That was a first for me and thankfully Mike was there. You’re right, single pilot IFR flight in the clag and that could have been a fatal error. There are no do-overs in IMC.

We went into a lengthy discussion over dinner and Mike pointed out two issues. I need to complete the brief without interruption and either use the iPad set up as a knee board or keep it on my lap. Last night I briefed, obviously quickly and missed the fix then set my iPad on the glare shield. The mantra did nothing with the wrong info.

A good learning experience and one that I will remember. I’m doing a bit of chair flying tonight and working on my flow to read the approach plates. Some retraining of the mental picture and flow will get me back on my game. Thanks for your post.