Sunday, June 29, 2008

IR Lesson 22, Staying Ahead

After watching the wx reports yesterday I didn't think I would be flying today. I was up about 6am and didn't really feel like crawling out of bed. I did get up since Maggie had to eat and do her thing in the back yard, which included barking at squirrels she had run up a tree. Sheeesh...who needs to hear that at 6 am, I called her in, gave her a treat and sprayed some sort of doggie smell be gone stuff, it worked.

I finally make the call at 7am that my flight lesson is a go. Thunder storms look to be rolling in sometime later this afternoon but I should be long home by then, soaking up the air conditioning. I made the call to FSS just to back up my findings and check for TFR's (we all like to be on tape). The briefer confirmed my findings, I identified KMQS Chester County since he didn't know what airport that was then we said our goodbyes. Flight Bag in hand I headed south to ILG and my ritual of having Scott from AeroWays top off the tanks in 679er. Preflight completed and tanks full, I climb in and as always run through my check lists. I start up and get clearance to runway nine at kilo five. Wow, that's a switch, calm winds and I didn't get two seven. I make my way and apply the parking brake then flow through my run up procedure.

A final check of flaps,trim, mixture, pump, lights and I am calling for a take off clearance. The young lady at ILG this morning clears me to takeoff runway nine, turn on course approved. I acknowledge and get rolling. Time off 8:05 and 679er is climbing out of Wilmington. It is really clear today as I level out at 2,500' and track north on a course of 015*. In the distance I can see the cooling towers at the nuke plant in Pottstown. I also spot the two water towers in West Chester that will line me up for a 45* to the left down wind for two seven. I bank left, then eventually right to split the towers and call my four mile 45*. One Cessna is landing, one Bo just off two seven as I am turning downwind. Base to final and slowing to 65 knots I cross the fence and cut the power for a really nice landing, I would have liked a bit more stall horn but it will do.

The folks at the desk ask how long I'll be and this time I give no smart answers, sometimes getting a laugh is not worth the price I'll pay while under the hood. Brian and I get started and climb out to 2,500 on a heading to the north. We are going to do the GPS 27 Approach, again. I reach over and check for the nav/hdg setting and give the plane to George (my autopilot) the transition is smooth, I'm holding altitude, airspeed and heading. After removing the plate from the binder I brought up the GPS and plugged in the initial approach fix DASDE. Once I briefed I took over control and flew a very nice approach. I was staying ahead of the plane, with set up, radios and landing checks, it felt really good! I was told to look up and sure enough I was on target looking down at runway two seven. No time to enjoy I was going missed.

We climbed straight out and I was directed to set up for the GPS RWY 9 approach. I really can't remember shooting this approach so it should be fun. I gave 'george' the nod and flew my heading as I leveled out at 2,900. I briefed the plate and dialed in the info. I was correcting my course to now proceed direct to ECZEL my intended initial approach fix. Once briefed and comm/navs set I took control from george and hand flew the remainder of the approach.

The GPS was set and I was tracking great, holding altitude and airspeed was good too. Around five miles out I added a notch of flaps, set my rpm to 2,200 and the airspeed indicator sat on 90 knots, it looked like a clip from the King DVD's. ECZEL to CEFSY, no procedure turn so a left turn to the final approach fix WACCY. I was also good to descend to 2,100. I ran through my landing checks, switched tanks and was counting down the miles. Once across WACCY I could descend to 920' and my missed approach point is runway nine. Brian said remove the foggles, and there, exactly where it should be was runway nine. This time we are going missed and to the hold. I suspended the GPS to soon and had to release it, all the while making a climbing right turn to 2,900 direct to CEFSY. I finally sequenced the correct pattern on the GPS and CEFSY appears as I track to at 270*.

I initially dialed 270* in to get me going in the right direction as I switched through the GPS. Ok, what entry, my CFII asks. This will be a parallel, crossing the fix at 270* outbound for 4 miles, not timed, then turning inbound to intercept the 088* heading. I'll roll out on a 050* heading to intercept a bit quicker. Three laps in the hold then a problem with the GPS. Hmmmm, why is the GPS not showing my approach? I have to reset with the clear button and reprogram in a very short time. Honestly I had dialed in a 088* heading and from CEFSY and was working that. I maintained my altitude perfectly through WACCY and finally down to 920' holding until the runway.

Another missed approach and a climb out to reposition for a GPS 27 approach once again. This approach also went very smooth and I came in and practiced a circle to land. Brian explained the circle to land, not to be confused with entering the normal pattern but more of a 180 back to a short final. More of a continuous turn then a squared off pattern. Not a bad landing on two seven and a nice slow roll out to exit the runway.

Two hours of lesson flying time and a total of 2.7 flying today. June has been a very busy month. By the numbers; 6.4 hours of fun flying, including the Block Island trip and 11 hours of Instrument lessons. My most productive month to date. I'm not sure when I am up again. The starter on 679er hung up and was making a metal to metal contact as I shut down today. I'll make a call to Gary (owner Gary) and get her scheduled for a check up.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

IR Lesson 21 The Light Came On

I headed to Wilmington keeping my fingers crossed that the thunder boomers are not going to show up. I performed my normal wx checks and felt comfortable with my decision to head to Brandywine for my lesson. I did pause to give the gusting winds some consideration but they were, for the most part, blowing down the runways two seven at OQN and ILG. I forgot my ASA timer so I had to walk back to the truck so I decided to grab a bottle of water for the lesson today and made a quick stop in Red Eagle.

Finally, ATIS noted and all frequency's dialed in. ILG ground on nav 2 with the tower in standby, OQN AWOS in Nav 1 with the CTAF in standby. Altimeter is set, DG set and cross checked with the mag compass, flaps retracted, brake check and I am taxing to runway two seven at mike. At the hold short I complete my run up, close the windows, check my seat belt, touch the flap handle, mixture, strobes, landing light, fuel pump and contact the tower. I am cleared to take off two seven and get an alert for traffic landing on three two.

Brandywine is a short hop so I stay at 2000' and announce my position as I close to within 5 miles. It's sure hazy today and those clouds are building, it will be a bumpy lesson. Down wind, base to final and I let 679er roll out for easy slow down and exit from runway two seven. I pick up Brian and we taxi out to depart two seven, winds are pretty steady and gusting at times. 679er is off and running and gets us in the air, not her screaming self this afternoon instead dealing with the warm and muggies other wise known as density altitude. Brian wants to polish up my procedures so we will be working on the ILS 29 at Chester County and some GPS work back at Brandywine. I need to see some new stuff, new approaches and places to land. Not so today, it will be the familiar places. I take up an northerly heading and get vectors from my CFII (role playing ATC) to ILS 29. I noticed I have been late turning to intercept the localizer so I make it a point to clean it up and get on final course early. I am getting in the habit of actually saying each step out loud, it helps. Ok, on course at altitude, localizer alive! I turn to a heading of 293* and the localizer centers as I am rolling out of my standard rate turn. I double check my settings and complete my landing checklist. I catch the marker beacon toggle switch so I can hear the OM tone. I'm now good to go.

I call out left or right of course and make gentle corrections with my feet, yep just rudder here. Glide slope is looking great now that my power settings are set in my brain and I continue my descent at about five times my ground speed, good tip Mike. I reach my minimum descent altitude and hold there waiting on my timer to expire when I get the "look up" from Brian. Hey there it is, runway two niner at Chester County! Yeah great, your going missed so get to it! I make a climbing left turn to 2,400' and direct to Modena MXE VOR.

I want to nail my hold. Brian asks what entry, I respond teardrop and give him my entry heading and walk him through what I have planned. Obviously if you have been reading along you will understand that what is planned does not happen all the time. This time, yes, you read right, THIS TIME I am kicking butt and taking names. Brave talk for a guy dealing with strong winds and bumpy conditions. Brian once again reminds me there is no smooth IMC.

I cross the station and continue on my heading of 120* for one minute. I'm looking good so far so let's turn to the inbound course. I turn, twist to 329*, time the inbound (looking for a minute), check throttle (it's good) and no talk right now. I should have held maybe a 285* heading since the CDI was not showing any movement but instead I only allowed for a 20* correction. I decided to come back left to 285-290 and I finally intercept the inbound. Quick time check is one minute and thirty seconds as I pass the station, strong winds. I turn outbound again on a 149* heading but only head out for thirty seconds this time around. I flow through the 5 T's again and cut a larger angle to cross the 329* inbound. It works and my time crossing the station is almost right on the money. Wooo Hooo, I think I'm catching on!!

No time to really enjoy my mini victory since Brian heard my chat as I taxied in to Brandywine. The guys at the desk asked on the radio how long I was going to stay and I responded long enough to pick up my instructor and torture him for a few hours, they got a laugh out of that one. Now it's time to pay for my comment. Next up is the GPS 27 into OQN. I have been practicing with the 300 XL and it's starting to show. I punch in direct to KOQN then go to the route page and turn through the pages. Ahhh here we go, select approach. I tap the cursor button, turn the knob and select GPS 27, I follow that with the DASDE Initial Approach Fix. Once at altitude I reach down and turn on the Auto Pilot so I can brief the approach and maintain my heading, my CFI is silent. Insert sinister laugh that "I" hear in my head. Hey, it's my lesson, my flight!

I pull out the approach plate brief and set it in the yoke clip. I set up my comm/nav radios pick up the AWOS and note the wind on my ADF for reference. I give George (autopilot) a rest and take control. A few short miles then turn to 179* to GONVE. Once on course I add a notch of flaps, set rpm to 2100 and cruise along at 90 knots. Once turning final from GONVE I am cleared to descend to 2100 to the Final approach fix CELPA. I complete my landing checklist within those few miles and get ready to land. Across CELPA and now looking to descend to 940' with RUDME as my missed approach point. Off come the foggles and I am a tad high and fighting the winds, I make the decision to go missed. I climb out to pattern altitude and join in. Crosswind, downwind, base and final I'm looking good and correct for the cross wind. 679er settles in for a real nice landing and as a reward a roll out that needs little to no braking action.

We end the day with a review as Brian fills out my log book. Today the light came on, I was happy with my lesson and actually start to feel like I belong in the plane shooting approaches. I can't wait until Sunday. Depending how much sleep I get after working a double. I may get some lesson time late tomorrow afternoon.

A side note that I thought I should add is a funny, well maybe not a funny but, it happened while flying to my lesson. Once off of Wilmington I see something in the cockpit with me flying. No biggie, fly the plane and hope its just a fly or some fuzz ball the now wide open floor vent kicked up. It's neither, instead it's a wasp and he lands on my left arm. Hey there fella, I'm going to destroy you if you sting me (this being said in my most happy tone with that oh crap I better force a happy face). IT takes off and flies out of my field of vision, no time to look I am trying to fly here. About seven miles out of OQN IT (the bee) decides to park itself on my sectional that is folded and tucked away on the right side of the control panel. I reach up and give him a slooooow ride on the chart and whack him against the door panel, now he's dazed and ticked off. The bee falls to the floor, I reach over and flip to HDG vs. NAV and turn on the autopilot. Once stable I grab the sectional and beat the daylights out of said intruder. [ding] Your now free to return to your normal flight.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Communications Work in 25U

Today was that typical day at work where every pilot must ask themselves why am I here instead of flying. I asked myself that a few times, yes, in the middle of meetings and working out issues on various contracts, my head was in the clouds. Maybe it was the email that started the ball rolling that I received from Mike Tuesday afternoon asking if I wanted to get some right seat time in two five uniform on Wednesday. I read that again this morning and forwarded it to my work email, this called for further investigation. We swapped phone calls during the day and I anxiously awaited Mikes 4pm teleconference to be cancelled. I'm sure he was feeling the same way but I'll let him answer for that. It's 4pm and no confirmation call so I head north to the house. I no sooner finished feeding the beast (Maggie) and my cell phone rang. Mike said we are on and that he would be at the airport in thirty minutes, I acknowledged and locked up the house.

Flight bag in hand I gave the Bride a call and headed south towards Wilmington Airport. I found a great parking spot, grabbed my bag and headed through the FBO. Great folks at Atlantic, always a friendly smile and heck, they laughed at my jokes. I said is that Mike out there with two five uniform? Yes sir they said, Hmmmm maybe I should hang out a b it longer inside until he finishes the pre-flight, they got a chuckle out of that. I headed out but Mike was well into the pre-flight and I tried not to get in the way.

It was somewhat busy at ILG this evening but we were given the direction to taxi to runway three two and hold. Mike asked me to do the radio work and that he would walk me through the calls for the planned approach into our destination KESN, Easten Maryland. ESN now has a tower so that would be something different. Mary and I head to Easton at least once a year for the Christmas in St. Michael's weekend, a fun event.

Two five Uniform climbs out of ILG and we are approved for a left turn on course. Typical hazy flight as we make our way south west. Once over the C&D canal Mike asked me to pick up advisories with Dover Approach into ESN. Dover's approach was a different voice, not the usual young trainee but a seasoned gentleman that sounded very good on the radio. We acknowledged our squawk code and continued on course. Mike briefed the GPS RWY 22 approach for Easton. Once switched over to Potomac approach the captain had me ask for a practice approach, GPS RWY 22. Potomac acknowledged, eventually. The next voice at Potomac seemed to have forgotten us and I asked for the GPS approach again in more of a question format, not how Mike coached me but that's how it came out.

We were riding along with Potomac commenting on their lack of communication skills (trying to be nice here) and I followed along as Mike briefed the approach. I did the visual checklist for the comm/nav set up and we were ready to go. I eventually had to call Potomac and request to switch to the tower at Easton since were less then two miles from the final approach fix (FAF) ZULIV. Potomac cut us loose to contact the tower and it got a bit confusing. At first we didn't think they "handed" us off, but after my contact it seemed they did. My call to the tower...Easton Tower Cessna 3525 Uniform for the GPS 22 Approach. Easton responded 3525 Uniform Altimeter 3010, report ZULIV inbound. I didn't hesitate since we were there, 3525Uniform reporting ZULIV inbound. There was a distinct pause, you know that awkward time where you wonder if they got that, understood my call or did they think I was reading back the instructions. Mike said it's best to give them another call and advise our position. I did and we were cleared to land runway two two.

Mike exited the runway and we were instructed to contact ground on 119.07 Ground asked our intentions and I respond that we would like to go to the terminal. The young lady directed us to the terminal via taxiway Alpha. I repeated her instructions and off we went. Ground asked If I was the pilot who likes to stop for a cold drink, I responded uh, no my first time here in this aircraft. There was a short pause then I added but I'll ask the left seater and see if he is the one, there was no response. I'm thinking there might be more this story but that's for another post after further investigation.

The restaurant was closed and so was the pilot shop. There were two young ladies on the airfield side of the terminal who did let us in for water and a sectional. Mike then filed for the flight back to Wilmington on Flight Plan .com ( Mike performed an abbreviated preflight and we saddled up for home. I haven't used flight plan so Mike took the time to walk me through the print out. Flight Plan lists the nav log and all the radio frequencies along with the airport information. Our flight plan was SWANN V214 DQO. The SWANN intersection is north east of Easton and it lies on the Victor 214 Airway. We brief the plan and then start up as I made the call to ground. Easton lists clearance delivery (CD) on 126.9 but most towered airports work through their ground frequency. Mike advised to ask if indeed 26.9 was active. I contacted ground with a question and asked if CD was active on 26.9, the controller responded that she had the strip and advise when ready to copy. Cessna 3525 uniform is ready to copy, I had already jotted down my script and was ready to fill in the CRAFT info. CRAFT, C- Clearance, R-Route, A-Altitude, F-Frequency, T-Transponder. I am still working on my short hand note taking for clearances but here is what we got. My version in home brew shorthand is in italics

C - Cleared to ILG
R- Vectors, SWANN, As Filed Right Turn 350*
A - 2000 expect 5000 in 10 minutes
F- 124.55 (Potomac Departure)
T - 6510 Transponder (Squawk code)

My version...



A- 2000 5000/10

F- 24.55

T- 6510

The only thing I was not sure about was the right turn 350* after the as filed. When I read the clearance back I wanted to make sure I copied correct on the right turn instruction. Ground responded read back correct, advise ready to taxi. I advised ready to taxi and off we went noting that we had to run up once to the hold short.

Mike, as he calls it, chugged and plugged the plan into the GPS and I advised the tower that 3525Uniform was ready to go at runway two two and Alpha. The tower responded, hold for release. Key in the jeopardy music, actually it was not a long wait at all. Once cleared to take off I read back the instruction and Mike had us rolling down two two. 25U was up and away and turning out to the three five zero heading. I switched to Potomac as instructed and thanked Easton Tower. Potomac Approach Cessna 3525U one point two climbing two thousand. Potomac responded with altimeter setting and cleared 5000. I read back the information, Mike added that I should always respond with altitude then climbing, descending with the new altitude. Makes sense and provides the information for the controller to know the block you are climbing through. A short time later, almost to SWANN approach cleared us direct to ODESA. I again read back cleared direct ODESSA and asked for a spelling, so much easier then flying the plane and looking for the intersection on the chart. Approach repeated ODESA, Oscar Delta Echo Sierra Alpha, I replied, Confirmed ODESA, thanks.

Once crossing ODESA I picked up the ATIS from Wilmington. Information November, winds 237 at 7, visibility 10, clear below one two thousand, temp 27 dew point 17, altimeter 3010. We were handed off to Philly approach and I checked in. Philly approach Cessna 3525 Uniform 5000 level. Philly gave us the altimeter setting and we continued on to ILG. After crossing the C&D Canal we had Wilmington in sight so Mike coached me through the next few contacts. Philly approach, 3525 Uniform has the airport in sight. Cessna 25Uniform contact Wilmington tower on 126.0. Wilmington tower, Cessna 3525Uniform with November, GPS 27 approach, full stop. The Tower directed us to enter left downwind and report turning base. Once on downwind we were cleared to land two seven and I asked to land long since we were going to Atlantic. Tower approved. Mike made another great landing as he held it off over the runway and set down nice and smooth. It was nice to open the windows as we taxied in and soak up some cool breeze. The lineman at Atlantic was ready and waiting as he marshaled us in to park. We packed up and decided on EAT for our dinner stop. I called the Bride to let her know we were on the ground at ILG and asked if she wanted to join us, she took a pass. Great food at EAT and as always excellent hangar flying. Mike said it was his turn to pick up the tab so I'll get next round, thanks Mike!

I am up again tomorrow at 2pm as I head to KOQN for my Instrument lesson. After that I'll catch a nap then head back to work for a 9pm start working through until 5:30am. If I feel rested when I finally get up I may consider going to KWWD Cape May to watch the air show.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Block Island

The North East Flyers saddled up for a day trip to Block Island. Mary and I made the go decision this morning once I was confident that she was feeling better. My Bride has been fighting bouts of diverticulitis all week. The doctor finally got her on something that is keeping her pretty much pain free and not feeling sick.

We made a stop for something quick at McD's (great food for a bad tummy)this morning then straight to the airport. Flight time was scheduled for 1 hour and 40 minutes with a nice tail wind. We departed Wilmington around 8:30 and turned north east. I planned for a trip through Philly's Bravo airspace and then over the top of New York's Bravo at 7,500 feet. Once above Pattern altitude I quickly flipped to Philly Approach on 119.75 and gave them the details in my best pilot in command voice. Philly Approach, Archer 28679er off Wilmington, One point two for seven point five, VFR to Block island, request bravo transition and advisories. I was given a squawk code and a few vectors to take me on the North West side of the airport to help their traffic flow. I was given a choice for altitude and responded, I'm good at either where do you need me to be? I responded, 4000' it is. Once clear of the Philly class bravo I climbed to seven thousand five hundred feet to keep us over the top of New York airspace. It's a shame it was so hazey, we could barely make out the "Lady" as the Statue of Liberty is refer ed to by pilots. We were very busy calling out traffic and at one point had a heavy pass us by less then one thousand feet vertical and a mile separation. At the same time we had another aircraft off the nose pass left to right at seven thousand just more then a mile or two. Arrggggg Tim Allen would say, there was big Iron everywhere!!

Once beyond the NY class Bravo, we enjoyed the ride towards Block Island. Tailwinds were really helping the cause with an indicated airspeed of around 100 and a ground speed of 130-135 (150-156 mph). We followed the island clear out to the Hamptons and past the point of no return Montauk, KMTP. Block Island was in view so I reduced power and started a slow 500' per minute descent. The CTAF 123.0 was busy with a lot of various airports on the same frequency. I made my calls at ten and five miles followed with a 45* for left down wind runway two eight. It was slow and sweet extending down wind for an aircraft on final then turning base and final watching the ferry and boats pass by. This mornings landing was by far one of my very best, short field, stall horn and hardly a chirp. I taxied in and followed the cart to my parking.

Ted and Susan taxied in their twin as we walked to the FBO. Following in next was Adam and Marisol from New Hampshire and a host of others joining the fun. Most of the group decided on walking to the restaurant, I passed on that thought and gladly jumped in a cab. Adam and Marisol joined us. It was a $13 trip for the four of us but the ladies enjoyed some extra shopping time. Adam and I fought the urge but we eventually were lured into the shops. My, look at the time, the group should be here any minute, or at least we had hoped. We made our way back to Finns and found our tables. The cold water quenched our thirst as we read through the menus.

Our table order was Lobster roll all around except for Ted, he had fish and chips with a bowl of clam chowder. Lunch conversation, as always, was entertaining. Dave had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to fall out of my chair. If you ever have the chance you have to hear the "Wright" story, along with the Harrison Ford special picture and Neil Armstrong stories, just too darn funny, they were worth the fuel burn to get here.

A few folks had to hit the road after lunch. We said our goodbyes to Adam and Marisol who had plans for the day back home but at least made the lunch run. It's always nice catching up with our friends. While Bob and Paul rented mopeds/scooters a few in the group continued through the shops. I waited as Mary made her way checking out what treasure was hidden away at each location. She did pretty good only coming home with a single charm, which she will add to her bracelet that has a charm from each flight to a new location. Today's charm was a silver flip flop, it was cute.

We hopped a taxi back to the airport only costing $11. Mary asked if I wanted water for the flight home and I passed, I won't do that again. We walked out to 679er and pre-flighted followed buy staring up to stay cool. I taxied out for my run up and departed 28 looking ahead at the hills of green. I had added a notch of flaps since we had burned at least 15 gallons on the flight up and I wanted to add some insurance on my first time out of BID. 679er climbed right up and away as we crossed the sound and made our way to KWST - Westerly. WST had 4.69 for fuel advertised on Airnav (Dooney Aviation) so I figured why not top off.

There was no full service at WST so I re-started and taxied to the self serve at Landmark for $5.29 a gallon. As we started to fuel we watched two banner tow planes drop the signs and land. They taxied right behind me for fuel. 679er had a full belly so we taxied out for departure on runway two five. I completed my run up and announced followed by checking the pattern. I didn't see the aircraft turning base until he made a call. I was rolling and told him I would be out of his way as I went full throttle and screamed out. He called that he had the traffic departing and I followed with my call departing to the west straight out.

I picked up flight following with Providence Approach and chugged along at 100 knots into the head wind. I was handed off multiple times as we made our way north of the NY class bravo. Once turning southward towards the Broadway VOR we dodged the big stuff into EWR, Newark. ATC was really good and eventually turned us loose to climb back to an altitude at our discretion. Mary and I had a bumpy ride home just below the cloud layer at 6500. NY Approach gave us a direct to ILG from the Broadway VOR but then cut us loose providing only a frequency for Philly. I monitored Philly Approach on our way in then dropped down to 2800' once we were ready to pass through the outter ring of class B at Philly (PHL).
I gave Wilmington a call about ten miles north and I was directed to advise a three mile final for runway one nine. This worked fine for me since I was looking straight down the runway from our current position. I slowed to my Instrument flight settings and added a notch of flaps and set for 1800 rpm to descend at five to six hundred feet per minute, nice and easy. 679er knew this deal and she gently made her way down to the runway. I was slow adding a touch of power as I crossed the numbers and kerplunked on in with only a short blast of the stall horn. Not very pretty but we are home. I ordered fuel as we tied down and covered. We were both tired and dehydrated from the bumps and since neither of us had hats we were baked from the sun beating in the plane.

KBID is a nice airport with very nice folks working the line and counter. We plan on returning to spend a long weekend. Turn me loose with on of those scooters.....wooo hooooo now that's dangerous!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Approach Problems

Instrument flying: Approach problems

Clipped from the AOPA Forum, this about sums it up on the hardest things to focus on. This reply to the original post was made by Cap'n Ron.

Speaking as someone who's given over 500 hours of instrument flight training plus a few hundred hours on the sim over the last two years, I'd say that the three biggest problems folks have on approaches are:

  • Failure to use good prioritization techniques like the 5T's at every point
  • Failure to keep the eyes scanning/fixating on one instrument
  • Spending too much time looking at the approach chart instead of the instruments

I find myself falling into the exact problems noted. I should always verbalize the 5 T's, I don't. I have fixated on certain instruments, but that is getting better each flight. Finally, spending to much time briefing in flight and not scanning instruments. My last flight I did much better managing my time and even held the approach plate up with my right hand so I could keep my head up.

It's a work in progress and I am adjusting to that thought. My goal is to get better each lesson and 'master' some new technique each flight. Ok, maybe master is the wrong choice here but you get where I'm going with this. I look back to my PPL training and I see myself as that sponge, once again looking to soak up the knowledge, this time it's about instrument flight.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

IR Lesson 20 Still Holding

My Friday lesson was moved to this morning because Brian had something come up. I assured him again this morning after he apologized that it's no big deal, I'm pretty flexible. I was once again all alone at Wilmington as I got 679er ready to go. As usual I arrived early and spent some time playing with the Garmin 300XL GPS and trying my new phone hook up to my Zulu headset. I called for fuel and everything worked fine. Scott from AeroWays pulled up and topped me off with 13 gallons. I told him I would give a call around noon for 21 gallons and we both laughed.

I completed my pre-flight with the fuel sump and climbed in. I'm still not used to locking that door so early, Mary usually takes care of that. I flow through the pore start checks and the call "Clear Prop!". 679er comes to life and just smoothly idles, waiting for the brake release. ATIS noted I call up Wilmington ground and advise ready to taxi, VFR to Brandywine with information Oscar. Peter, the controller on this morning that the info is getting ready to change to papa and he gives me the changes. I respond, thanks Peter info papa noted.

Once cleared to take off on two seven I add full power and quickly jump into the air, it's so different with just me in the plane. I track to the MXE, Modena VOR for the VOR A approach but since I'm VFR I don't bother with the procedure turn (I'll get enough of that shortly). I advise five mile 45* for runway two seven and slop through the humidity and haze. I'm only about 2000' and its five mile visibility and changing. Just a few quick miles and I am turning to enter the down wind for two seven. Check lists completed I make an ok landing. On short final my timer jumped off the yoke and into my lap, FLY THE PLANE. I landed a bit flat but the landing was acceptable.

Today will be work on holds, procedure review, briefings and cleaning up my heading/altitude. We climb in and get underway. Run up complete I announce departing two seven and off we go. Hmmm, warm temps, full fuel and two adults from a short(er) runway. 679er gets in the air without much stress and we are minding the noise abatement. It's ATC role play time as i get vectors for the ILS 29 at Chester County. Bad thoughts come into my head about my hold after going missed there last week. Can't think of that now, I need to keep focused. My CFII has me heading north and then turning back south towards KMQS. I once again briefed the approach and had everything dialed in. I gave the AWOS a final listen and felt I was ready to stay ahead of the plane. Radio practice time

ATC (CFI) - Archer 28679, turn right two eight zero, maintain 2500' until established on the ILS two nine, report Moses inbound.
Me - I repeated the instructions to confirm and kept flying the airplane.

Localizer alive, I announced, and started my turn to intercept. Brian asked what are you forgetting? Crap!? is this a distraction, no I must be paranoid, I'm set for missed with a simple flip of the nav radio, radios are set, I'm on course and the glide slope is coming to me. I'm thinking but drawing a blank. I need to set my timer but not until the OM Moses, that's it! how do I ID Moses. I had to flip the toggle to hear and see the OM at passage. More ATC role play.

Me - Philly approach Archer 679er Moses inbound.
ATC - Archer 679er contact (tower) this airport is CTAF on 122.7, good day
Me - 22.7 for 6769er, thanks.

Ok, foggles off and I am a bit high and left of course but at least the airport is where it's supposed to be. No time to enjoy my fair approach it's "missed time" and I am climbing to 2400' in a left turn direct to the MXE, Modena VOR. In my briefing I gave some thought to my missed, if needed and I planned on a direct heading of 120* which helps set me up for my teardrop entry to the hold. I'm finally starting to "try" and keep a step or two ahead of the plane. I cross the station and head outbound for a minute then it all falls apart. I didn't correct enough for the wind, I didn't get aligned on the 329* inbound radial before crossing the station and was lost in space. Of course Brian asks, "how we looking?", like crap I said, I need to get back to the MXE vor so I turned back towards the outbound radial and tried again. This time it was better, correcting for wind and staying on course but not getting my times even close. I would go out for a minute and take almost two on the return inbound as I crossed the station. Ok, I am again making another lap, holding more towards a 120* heading and decide to track only forty seconds outbound. As I start my turn and timer the CDI is following my heading movement and I am on track inbound adding almost a twenty degree correction. Timer runs just a tad long so the next outbound leg I ran just to 30 seconds. Bingo! Turning back inbound and I cross the station almost dead on, this is pretty cool stuff!!

Don't get too excited, I think to myself. I get vectors and head towards the ILS 29 approach once again. This time I am better coordinated with glide slope, localizer and throttle control. My night work with my friend Mike really helped free up some brain cells by not fooling with the throttle all the time and locking 679er's settings in my memory. I'm told to look up and there she is, runway 29 smack in front of me and waiting for me to land, yeah right. Who's landing? Going missed again and back to Modena MXE.

After crossing Modena I headed off to the north east and briefed the GPS 27 for Brandywine. I set up the GPS for the approach and followed along my way. I was heading for the DASDE Initial Approach Fix at 2900' and enjoying the ride. We had 17 miles or there abouts before reaching the IAF so we chatted and reviewed. We talked about having the aircraft hands free so I can brief without pushing myself off course or altitude by hanging on the yoke. We also talked about small corrections and keeping my scan going.

Upon reaching DASDE I made a right turn on course to 179* headed to GONVE. From GONVE to CELPA I could descend from 2900' to 2100'. I was steady on course and upon passing CELPA I was good to descend to 940'. Off came the foggles but I could not adjust the eyesight fast enough, I had to go missed. I was to fast on short final and didn't want to chance it. I climbed out but instead of going missed I turned crosswind and followed the pattern, a circle to land so to speak. Much better this time as I touched down and rolled out with a nice taxi back to parking. 2.5 in the book and my holds are figured out, I HOPE! I am up again next Thursday.

By the way if your wondering, 679er took on 20.8 gallons of 100LL.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I finally decided to buy myself the Lightspeed Zulu headset. I have two new headsets for our passengers (Skylite SL800) that can be replaced at minimum cost so I decided to sell my DC's.

David Clark H10-13.4S Stereo Headset

Very good condition - $230.00

lightweight - only 13.4 oz.
Noise Reduction Rating - 23 dB
Flo-Fit Gel Ear Seals

Friday, June 13, 2008

Instrument Practice Time

After Mike and I swapped emails and I gave him the wrong home telephone number to call, he still wanted to get in a plane with me. Mike and I decided on some instrument practice time for me in 679er. It's great to have someone at ILG that will be my safety pilot and who seems to love to fly even more then I do.

I left the house with out signing out 679er on the aircraft club calendar. I was just online updating my IR lesson times and noticed the evening times were wide open. I still should have signed the aircraft out. An uneventful ride to the airport and pre-flight went fine. I bumped into some friends that just got back from a fun flight to Cambridge (CGE) and we stood around and BS'ed for a bit.

Finally time to get in the air! I went through my checklists and taxied out to runway one nine at taxiway Kilo. We were cleared to takeoff and turn on course to the south east. Mike role played as ATC and provided vectors so that I could do some radio work. I worked on trying to fly the plane. It was not my best night by any stretch of the imagination but things did settle down and I tracked my way into Millville for the ILS RWY 10 approach. Instead of working on the hold we headed back out for another shot at the approach. This time it seemed to flow a bit smoother but I still missed my timer and was to busy putzing with throttle corrections. Once at minimums I looked up and slowed for an attempt at a landing. Not a bad landing, typically left of center, but fairly smooth. We taxied back for a runway one zero departure.

Announcing our one zero departure and checking for traffic we begin our roll. 679er comes to life and we are up and away, headed back to Wilmington, KILG. Mike works with me on getting the "numbers" for 679er set up and committed to memory. 2100 rpm and ten degrees of flaps has us moving along at 90 knots. Less concentration on the throttle provides more opportunity to work the scan and fly the needles. Mike makes a call to Philly approach and requests the ILS runway one into Wilmington. We receive vectors that take us south of the airport but keep us headed north west at or around 330 degrees. Philly clears us for the approach and hands us over to Wilmington Tower. Wilmington tower clears us to circle to land runway two seven. The MDA for the circling is 580'. I could not pick up the runway lighting so I gave Mike the plane, he had no problems picking up the approach end and turning us to base then final. Once on final it was back to my plane and I slowed us down to land. I am not used to short final at 80-90 knots so I needed to float it on down.....way down with a short skip or two along the way to finally achieve wheels down. Not a pretty landing at all but we're home.

I need to focus on my procedures and checklists. It seems overwhelming at times but I still know that I can do this. I am up again with my CFII on Sunday then again on Thursday. I'll repeat this schedule again trying to average five to six hours each week.

A pirep on my new Zulu headset. At first when I put them on they sounded almost as quiet as my David Clark's, then I turned them on. WOW! Where did all the noise go? Super quiet, easy plug in for my cell phone and I never felt them on my head, they were that comfortable. It will take some time to get used to the shorter mic boom then my DC's but I think I can handle it. I did hear some engine noise but it was almost non-existant, actually just enough to hear the engine pitch changes but not that droning type of noise. After the flight Mike put them on and commented how quiet they were and he really liked the bluetooth capability along with the plug and play for music or phone. Mike flys with the Bose headset.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Zulu's Have Arrived!

Well, I received my LS Zulu's today and can't wait to try them in flight. I actually took the time to read the manual, it's pretty brief. I plugged in my iPod and listened to the "Finer Points" aviation podcast, good stuff. I then switched over to some of Motowns greatest hits, they sounded great. No problems with the Front Row Center feature. My iPod and verizon crappy work phone were plug and play with the cords provided. The unit also fit very nicely into the case as long as you put it back in how it came out.

I noticed when I turned the unit on the room noise went dead silent, I could not hear MASH on TV or hear the wife talking to me on the same couch. I handed her the headset and she said, wow they seam pretty light and comfortable. I turned the unit back on and she said niiiiice.....really quiet. She then scrolled through my iPod songs and enjoyed. I will say that my Bride thought the DC's were comfortable too, but she also wants to try them in flight. this the first step in her taking my new toy? Stay tuned for the flight test.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

IR Lesson 19 ILS, GPS & Holds

I bumped my flight time block to 8:30-11:30, this gave me some extra sleep time and a chance to work with the Garmin 300XL GPS. I arrived at ILG around 7am and uncovered 679er, I'm not to sure either of us were ready to work. I carefully went through my pre-flight and then climbed aboard. I left the cabin door open and got the air-conditioning, engine, started. I went through the steps to load a GPS or VOR approach into the 300XL, there is no ILS approaches listed because the 300XL does not provide glide slope. Basically my Nav 1 is useless since it is slaved to the GPS. If Nav 2 fails, I'll have to re-read how that interfaces or be satisfied with a localizer approach.

Wilmington was busy this morning with NASCAR race traffic buzzing in and out. There were helicopters for the late arrivals that needed to make the start of the race. I got the typical directions to taxi to runway two seven at Mike. I acknowledged and off I went. With the run up complete I called to advise that 679er was ready to go two seven at mike. The tower acknowledged Archer 679er cleared for takeoff runway two seven, winds three zero zero at eight, right turn on course approved.

It's a short hop to OQN and as soon as I am at 2500' I am calling my 4 mile 45* for the left down wind two seven at Brandywine. Landing checks completed I hear the traffic clearing the runway. As I cruised past, abeam the numbers, I throttle back to 1500 rpm, settle and then add flaps. No traffic in and around me I announce my base and turn to final. Nice and easy, slight crab in and a smooth touchdown and easy roll out. I taxi in and park then head to the flight school.

Brian and I get ready to go but have to wait on a helicopter turning right base to final. I open my window and Brian opens the door, it's getting warm. Archer 679er departing runway two seven Brandywine and with a last check of the base and final I am rolling. We climb out and follow the noise abatement procedures, always being the good neighbor. It's foggles time and the beautiful day I was enjoying is gone. Nothing but instruments and mock ATC calls. My CFII vectors me to what seems like all over hell's half acre. He pulls out an approach plate and said brief this approach ( MQS ILS RWY 29) and get set up. I set up the Nav 2 for the ILS (108.5) and set up the Modena MXE VOR in standby (113.2) for my missed approach. Comm 2 has the AWOS 126.25 and CTAF 122.7 in standby. Comm 1 in the GPS has Philly approach 124.35 and CTAF in the standby. I pre-set my timer to 3:20 and have it ready to go for my Missed Approach Point. My landing checks are completed, I'm at 90 kts plus or minus and a notch of flaps is extended.

I am heading in from the north so I will lead my turn as the localizer comes alive. My ATC instructions are to turn to 270* maintain 2500' until established on the ILS 29 approach, report MOSES inbound ( the FAF outter marker). I follow the instructions and intercept the localizer and try to maintain my heading. The wind is gusty and my altitude suffers as it jumps up and down 100' I have the wind correction figured and my heading is fairly stable. I started my timer when I crossed the MOSES Outter Marker. I am descending from 2400' cleared to 910'. I call off course position along with altitudes. Left or right of course, 1500 for 910, on course and 1100 for 910, on course 1000' for 910 leveling off and waiting on my timer. Brian tells me to take a look, HEY! that's what I was looking for, runway 29 at Chester County.

No time to pat myself on the back I'm going missed. Climbing left turn to the MXE VOR hold at 2400'. I turn my heading bug, CDI and flip Nav 2. I track direct to MXE on a 120* heading, the same heading I will maintain past the station to make my teardrop entry for the hold. The to/from flag flips so I start the timer and try to maintain my heading. I'm everywhere, blowing left of the safe hold area and struggling to get on course prior to the one minute mark. Buzzzzz, times up, turning to the 329* inbound heading. I make the mistake of trying to chase the CDI but that only makes it worse and I am pushing my hold out of the safe area and actually on to the opposite side. The one minute time passes and I turn outbound for 149* and manage to get on course. I add twenty seconds to the outbound since I ran over tracking to the station.

If your thinking it's confusing, it is, well it sort of is plus add in the bumpy ride and gusty winds. I manage to turn on course and get my time and track squared away, Brian was going to let me keep struggling until I worked it out. He would ask, "how we looking" and I would blurt out, I suck. He would laugh and encourage me to stay with it figure my wind correction and keep plugging. I did and made the last two laps really pretty good.

As I crossed Modena MXE yet again, I was cut loose to follow vectors to intercept the ILS 29. I once again read back the instructions and chugged along. Straight and level I gave the landing checks a once over and switched tanks. Things went a bit better this time and again I went missed. Traffic was really starting to pick up so we headed back towards Brandywine. I was given vectors to get me well north of Brandywine and then was given the OQN GPS 27 approach plate to brief. I clicked through the steps and I picked the DASDE Initial approach fix. I crossed DASDE coming from the west and made a right turn to a course of 179* for 5.5 miles. The 300XL GPS lead my every turn. My next way point was GONVE and there was no procedure turn required. That's right a right tun to 269* to intercept the approach course. I was now clear to descend to 2100' and hold that until crossing the Final Approach Fix CELPA. From CELPA I would be looking for 940' until the missed approach point RUDME. This approach went very nice, I actually felt ahead of the plane. The fun didn't last I went missed but with out the turn back to GONVE. Instead I was told to track direct to my old friend Modena, the MXE VOR.

The winds were really kicking and to be honest I'm not sure how I was so stable and holding altitude on that last approach. Sometimes it's best not to wonder why but to just enjoy the moment. I did, and times up, time to get my head back in the game. I was given instructions to proceed direct to once again my old friend the Modena VOR. I descended from 3000 to 2000 and since heading north to south planned for my favorite, a teardrop entry to the procedure turn. As I once again crossed MXE I turned to a heading of 200* and went outbound for one minute. At the one minute mark I turned inbound to 54* and tracked to the station. Altitude looking good and heading good too. I cross MXE the FAF and make a slight turn to 52*, give the timer a tap and check my settings for 90 knts. I am clear to descend from 2000 to 1120' and I will be looking to go missed at the 3:48 mark. Holding at 1200 and closing in on my time I was told to look up. Woo hoo, right were the airport should be. I practice my circle to land on runway two seven extending my downwind to base turn a bit to wide. Corrections made I am set up for my short final and set 679er down with a nice smooth roll out.

Brandywine traffic, Archer 679er clear two seven, Brandywine. Thank God, I need a drink of water and a break from the foggles. Brian and I head to the office after getting 679er locked up so we could review and I could pay for my lesson. I was told my briefings are getting better, not fixating as I did before and the info is starting to flow, easier to retain. On course headings were ok despite the wind but I do need to be more consistent on altitude. Brian said I know the procedures and what I should be doing and with practice it will start to flow more naturally.

I square up with the school and climb back in 679er for the short hop home. Uneventful which is always good and I am reporting three mile right base for two seven. Cleared to land followed by a short taxi to Red Eagle. I call for fuel so Dave won't have to waste time when he heads out this evening. 21 gallons for exactly 3 hours of work, gotta love this bird, she's a fuel miser.

I am going to try and get a few hours in this week since Brian is off and Mary and i will be attending a graduation in Louisburg, NC next Sunday.