Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keeping Current

I had shot only one approach in the last six months since my last flight with a CFII.  My currency was about to run out as of the end of September, yep, tonight at midnight I would turn into the great pumpkin.  Giving it to much thought, maybe I would turn from a mouse (Beechcraft reference) to a horse pulling a carriage…neigh……er,um…nah.
I started out my evening cleaning 08Romeo’s belly. I gave her a good scrub and then changed for my flight. I really needed some stress relief and flying would shift my focus and clear my head.

08Romeo had 38 gallons of fuel on board so I was set for the flight.  All flights with my CFII start with a briefing of what torture our plan of attack will be.  The lineup was as follows, multiple approaches into 33N - RNAV GPS 9 and 27, multiple approaches into KEVY - RNAV GPS 17 and 35, a hold at WENDS, ILS RWY 1 approach into KILG and finally tracking back home (N57)for the VOR RWY 24.
I must admit that my training flights usually start out with the first approach serving the sole purpose of shedding rust by the buckets. A little behind the plane and chasing needles to keep in the ball. Tonight was different, no finger pointing by my CFII for course or altitude deviations instead a few wows and very nice tossed out there.  I was in the zone tonight; the last few weeks of flying had me ‘shit hot’ as I like to say.
No, this post can’t be all sugar plums and fairies.  Of course my CFII is never one to let my ego get out of control and I am quickly reeled in with an approach curve ball tossed at me.  I brief the plate for the expected RNAV GPS 17 into KEVY.  The initial (role-play) communications had me vectoring for the approach. I had the wx, had briefed the plate, radios were set and I was sticking the headings and altitude changes rock solid. Once cleared for the approach I would chug and plug on the Garmin 530.  We started to get into a conversation about some flying friends and airplanes as I was still ahead of the plane, fat dumb and happy.  Yes, I underlined dumb.  
Distraction is a killer in IMC, especially on approach, sterile cockpit is the norm when I fly….but I was so in the zone tonight.  My flying was still picture perfect then the sugar plums went splat and the fairy dust got in my eyes.  (role-play comm) 08Romeo direct EPKAW cleared for the RNAV GPS 17 approach, maintain 2000 until established.  I acknowledge and start to chug and plug.
I select the RNAV 17 approach and scroll through my choices. Hmmm…..there is no EPKAW selection.  I have to pull the plate, find EPKAW (top of the ‘T’) and see that it’s an IF not an IAF.  Meanwhile we are still cruising along and now my eyes are back to the scan, down to the plate, at the 530…you get the idea. Score one for the CFII, I am humbled.

I scroll through and select OGHUF, then click on the FPL (flight plan) button scroll to select EPKAW direct enter.  I am on my way in time to settle in and set up for the approach. I’ve had Philly approach run this exact scenario on approach to KILG while in IMC and had to chug and plug. Train for the what if’s, they happen when you least expect it.
The Garmin does alert you to the fix on the screen.  IA(initial approach), FA (final approach), MA (missed approach) and MH (missed hold). This should have been my first clue.
We had some additional fun shooting the ILS 1 into KILG.  The tower is always pretty good to work with and tonight was no different, very accommodating. The ATIS was noted and localizer dialed in as I was getting (role-play) vectors, the actual tower at ILG wanted us to report HADIN inbound.  I had just noted that the localizer was alive when ILG tower asked us for a left 360* for departing aircraft on one niner. We had traffic coming at us head on.   We acknowledged and off I went holding altitude in a smooth standard rate turn. My CFII asked for a half standard rate just to slow the turn down and give the C130 space on departure.
Once again the localizer is alive and glideslope starts to move as my turn put me back, just at HADIN.  We report our position and continue in.  I’m a bit busy slowing down trying to get the needles centered in the ball and run the GUMPS check.  I centered the needles and went foggles up at 275’ to see the runway right where it should be. I went missed and climbed out for home to the North West.

Last up was the VOR RWY 24 into New Garden.  I do enjoy tracking the VOR and on my beach flights dial in the various points along the route as my back up.  I ended the flight with a greaser landing and tucked 08Romeo in for the night.

The flight debrief took place over dinner at Two Stones and as always I left with new things to work on and ways to sharpen my flying skills.  Thanks Mike!

Quick edit!

With this flight I busted the 900 hour mark!!!! 


D.B. said...

That's why many CFII's recommend not to use the Vector-to-final option on your GNSS. If ATC changes their mind and tells you to go direct to the IF you are screwed.

Better to choose the full approach, and if ATC continues vectoring you to final, the GNSS will activate the proper leg at the proper time. And if they do change and give you direct to the IF, it's already available in your active flight plan.

Chris said...

Nicely done, Gary. I felt tremendous satisfaction just reading about it. As I told you the other day, I could use one of these exercises myself. Talk about buckets of rust...

I was fortunate to learn the lesson on VTF while training and it is so internalized that, even when I'm completely confident that I'll get vectors-to-final, I still dial in the full approach and adjust the flight plan as needed. Losing those extra options in VTF mode just makes me too uncomfortable.

Gary said...

I knew to set that up by selecting a point instead of VTF, but it was my CFII, he wouldn't do that....WRONG. :)

It's nice to have the geo referenced plates, at least I can pick the best option for an IAF.

Chris said...

The geo referenced plates ARE nice, there's no question. Sometimes I wonder though, if they reduce my ability to visualize location in space based on bearings from VORs and the like. It's just too easy...