Saturday, March 31, 2018

Beech Breakfast

Today's flight has me heading back to Cambridge, Maryland. The Beech Aero Club is meeting at Kay's restaurant, impromptu, yes, but why the heck not. I swapped text messages with Les G located at Martin State and we agreed on Cambridge. I was up and out of the house early because I needed to take on some fuel. The order was for ten to twelve gallons and 08Romeo took eleven to make for a total of forty on board. Cambridge is just thirty minutes each way, give or take a few minutes for winds.

08Romeo cruised along as I made my position calls, working my way towards the pattern for runway three-four. There was a Bonanza also headed for landing at CGE, he was ten out when I passed four miles out. Pointing 08Romeo's nose for final on three-four  I carefully made my way in, ending the first leg with a decent landing.
 Les was already on the ramp when I walked for the terminal building. We caught up inside and were seated on the east side of the restaurant closest to the ramp.
Charles G (my Safety pilot)walked in with a friend and we invited them to join us but they choose to sit at another table since we had already ordered. It's always good to see Charles and after breakfast he and his friend were going to continue on to Williamsburg.
I have to add this conversation overheard from the next table. The pilot, traveling with another man, maybe a pilot but I don't think so, and his two children are listening to the pilot explain the SFRA. The pilot calls the outter ring "the ring of doom and the inner ring the ring of death". Really? Nice message to two young boys. I guess he thought he was some fighter pilot over a nation at war enforcing a no fly zone. Insert eye roll...
Les and I each enjoyed our omelets along with conversation about flying, the club, annual inspections, A&P's and a good chuckle at the rings of doom and death. 

An aircraft maintenance technician refers to an individual who holds an Airframe and/or Powerplant (A&P) certificate which is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

We eventually made our way back out the ramp and compared our Sundowners. Les has a 1978 and my plane is a 1980. The 79 has a twelve volt system, my 80 has a twenty-four volt system. Door hinges are different, his are piano hinge and I have two hinge pins. Our ELT access is located differently; the 79 is located in the right side access panel and the 80 is forward of that access panel. The last tiem we each noticed was the third row of ceiling vents (baggage area)in my 80 and Less has vents over each seating row only.
It was fun comparing the two planes and the changes Beech made from model year to year. Since we're both pretty close in location we plan to meet up again at one of the other airports with places to eat on the airfield. We each taxied out, I followed 08Lima and departed runway three-four for home.
Turning cross wind in the pattern, with a plan to depart on the left down wind I heard a call from a Cessna entering the down wind. Thankfully saw him come up on ADS-B and made visual as I was getting ready to turn down wind. The Cessna never confirmed he saw me and kept coming for the down wind. I continued, making a wider pattern as I turned downwind, advising I had the Cessna, now inside of my location. hint hint...I was rather ticked.
Head on a swivel at all times and always take the route that gives the most clearance no matter if your right or wrong.
91.113 Right-of-way rules: Except water operations. 
(a)Inapplicability. This section does not apply to the operation of an aircraft on water. 

(b)General. When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.  
(c)In distress. An aircraft in distress has the right-of-way over all other air traffic.  
(d)Converging. When aircraft of the same category are converging at approximately the same altitude (except head-on, or nearly so), the aircraft to the other's right has the right-of-way. If the aircraft are of different categories -  
(1) A balloon has the right-of-way over any other category of aircraft;  
(2) A glider has the right-of-way over an airship, powered parachute, weight-shift-control aircraft, airplane, or rotorcraft.  
(3) An airship has the right-of-way over a powered parachute, weight-shift-control aircraft, airplane, or rotorcraft. 
However, an aircraft towing or refueling other aircraft has the right-of-way over all other engine-driven aircraft.

(e)Approaching head-on. When aircraft are approaching each other head-on, or nearly so, each pilot of each aircraft shall alter course to the right.  
(f)Overtaking. Each aircraft that is being overtaken has the right-of-way and each pilot of an overtaking aircraft shall alter course to the right to pass well clear.  
(g)Landing. Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface, except that they shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface which has already landed and is attempting to make way for an aircraft on final approach. When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land or to overtake that aircraft.  

The remainder of the flight was relaxing as I cruised along monitoring Patuxent approach.  I was called out a few times as traffic but altered my altitude to keep clear of the traffic approach was working.  Yes, I should have picked up flight following but I just wanted to enjoy some quiet time without having to chat with anyone. 
I approached Ocean City and made my 45°
entry for runway two.  I blended in with traffic and when turning to enter the left down wind I had two birds zip by me. One passed under the nose, caught him on camera, and the other banked right, the same way I did to miss the first feathered attacker. Bird one's wingman passed just off my right wing tip and although I didn't hit him he looked to pass by ruffled, and going backwards, very bizarre.

I got back to business and landed 08Romeo without incident. I inspected the wing and found no damage, confirming the miss.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Oil Change and a Once Over

Glory (optical phenomenon)
With our scheduled trips just around the corner I decided to change the oil on 08Romeo. I had fourteen hours remaining until I hit the magic fifty, but better safe than sorry. After giving it some thought, I would rather get the change done by my shop then on the road somewhere and with people I don't know. With this plan in mind, I filed for this mornings flight to 58M - Claremont. in Elkton, Maryland. 

METAR KOXB 260653Z AUTO 06013G19KT 10SM FEW033 03/M02 A3055

After completing my run-up I taxied for runway Zero-Two, yes, I have the numbers correct today.  ;)  Winds were 13 gusting 19 and 40° off the nose on climb out.  Since I could not raise Potomac Clearance Delivery  on the ground, I decided to pick up my clearance with Dover Approach in the air. 
South of Dover
Overflying Dover, heading North
I was maybe five or ten miles north of Ocean City when I reported my position and Dover responded with East of Salisbury 17 miles. Position checks was my response and I awaited my clearance. Dover provided my clearance and with the one change dialed in, I was now turning direct DQO (DuPont)VOR located on the field at Wilmington instead of the ENO (Smyrna) VOR.
Red - new route
Not a big change in direction, just having to pass my left turn towards 58M and then double back. Having been through this routine before, I knew this would change as soon as I was handed off to Philly approach, and it did.
Philly gave me direct 58M and directed me to descend to three thousand. Once at three thousand and advised to report the field in sight, I cancelled IFR. Previously, I was asked what approach I wanted and I had responded Visual three-one since I didn't have a safety pilot so I couldn't wear those spiffy foggles and log it.

I made a nice landing and taxied clear, making my way to the first shop entrance located on the west side of the hangar. I briefly waited as the guys tugged out a Piper Arrow so 08Romeo could get inside the building where it was warm.
Stan did the oil change for 08Romeo. It's always fun catching up with the guys at the shop, a very friendly bunch. The only thing that really needed attention was the anti-chafe tape along the top of the firewall where the cowl sits on the edge.
I also have a small hole that rubbed on the bottom corner of the baffle just inside the cowl where the top and bottom meet. That will take some Permatex oil resistant silicone to seal up and prevent air from blowing by the baffle.

With the change and once over complete, 08Romeo was ready for a leak test. I squared up my bill and stored the two extra quarts of oil in the baggage area for the upcoming trip.
I gave some thought to filing for the ride home but there was no radio frequency or number to call.  I know, call the 800 number, I didn't feel like waiting.  It was VFR with the layer sitting at three thousand three hundred. If I didn't like the ride below I could climb above the layer and get a pop up to descend into Ocean City. I was happy to just ride along below the layer, at least I thought so.

It was bumpy, what was I thinking. I stayed below as a punishment for being lazy and not filing, lesson hopefully learned.  The trip didn't take as long as bucking the headwinds north and I was soon making position calls for home. There were two aircraft in the area, one doing pattern work and the other climbing out west, towards Salisbury.
I was number two for the field and made a nice landing with winds once again coming across the right side of the nose. I taxied clear and tucked 08Romeo back in her nest.

With the battery minder and pre-heats connected along with her two moving blankets over the nose, she was once again ready for slumber. Until the next time my trusty ride.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cape May NJ and Mama's Junk

By air to Cape May
By taxi to Mama's Junk Co.
The weather was beautiful, sunny and 48°  with winds just 8 mph here in Ocean City. It was a good day to fly!

Mary and I have been wanting to check out the new shop, Mama's Junk Co., in Cape May Court House New Jersey located just nine miles from the airport.  I had 08Romeo plugged in overnight so she was toasty and ready to go when we arrived, I just needed fuel. I called the terminal and they dispatched the fuel truck to our hangar to dispense 24 gallons of go-go juice.
I completed my run up and launched from runway three-two.  I joined the pattern and departed to the north-east on the base leg, well above pattern altitude.  I flew along just on the west side of Ocean City, shadowing the Isle of Wight and Assawoman Bays.  Mary got a great view.
I climbed for five thousand five hundred and went feet wet.  I had my new vest on, my bride declined. We faced 15 knot headwinds crossing the Bay but enjoyed the view and smooth ride.  Just past the halfway point I started to let down for the pattern at Cape May.  Traffic was very light, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. I made my position calls and set up to land on runway two-eight.
I sent Mary inside to get out of the cooler temps and windy conditions on the ramp.  I secured 08Romeo and installed the cowl plugs to try and retain any heat that I could.  We had a short wait at the flight deck for seating but our timing was spot on. The place was clearing out as we were ready to be seated. Mary ordered the Swiss and mushroom burger on a Panini bread, I had the burger with Canadian bacon, cheese, pickled onions, and BBQ sauce with fries. The food and service was excellent.
I contacted the FBO to ask about a courtesy car and/or rentals.  No courtesy car and the rental would not be back until 3pm.  I asked if they could recommend a taxi service and he asked if I had Uber.  No sir, I don't do Uber or Lyft...I'm stuck in another generation, rent or taxi.  He chuckled and gave me a taxi service phone number.
The taxi pulled up to the Terminal building within fifteen minutes and we were soon on our way north up Main Street (Route 9) to Hand Avenue, 204 Hand Ave., to be exact. We were dropped off at the front door of Mama's Junk Co., and made arrangement to be picked up in an hour, unless we called for an early pick up. Mary and I wandered around the store and were impressed with the items for sale.  This was a warm up for our trip to Magnolia Market, just on a really smaller scale.  The owners were a young couple and they were very gracious hosts.  Did we buy anything?  Don't be ridiculous....of course we did.
Forty minutes later we were back in the taxi and heading to he airport. It was fun to travel the old roads that I did previously, when working at the DRBA.  However, the ride was much more enjoyable this time around.
We accessed the ramp through the gate next to the Operations building and walked twenty yards to the plane. Mary climbed aboard while I pulled the wheel chocks and cowl plugs followed by a quick pre-flight. We were good to go and I climbed aboard.  The winds had picked up, but the departure climb once above pattern wasn't too bad.  The climb out was, how can I say this, like an amusement ride that drew a stare (or is that glare) from my Bride.

I circled near the lighthouse and then turned to cross the Delaware Bay.  There was a ferry boat below heading in each direction crossing, and we now enjoyed a tail wind.  I followed the coast line all the way until RT 50 and then joined the pattern on a 45°  for the left down wind runway one-four. I had one aircraft pass below me and we confirmed our ADS-B signals and Mike from Ocean Aviation chimed in advising he had a visual on both of us, he was above and behind me.
I settled into the pattern and made all the correct calls. Thanks for the heads up Chris, I switched the setting back to pilot from that novice slot ;)  I was high and floated for a bit but landed with plenty of runway, opting to roll out instead of using up brakes just to turn off earlier.  I secured 08Romeo back in her nest and Mary and I headed for home.
I wanted ice cream, I haven't had any in ages, pretty much gave it and ice tea up, not needing the sugar.  I was tired and hot and just had a taste so we ducked into Dumsers.  I ordered a browine sunday, thinking a small cup get a taste and be happy. 
This is what was passed through the!  The group ordering just cracked up laughing and the young daughter said "Sir, that was a wise choice"  I replied, yes, maybe for three people, she nodded in agreement.

A fun day of flying and exploring.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Flights of the Mouse, Reposted

I noticed the link for The Flights of the Mouse went down, it had been hosted by a friend since Bo's passing.  I'll see Jesse in Olathe, Kansas in April and see what's up, but for now I am working on hosting Bo and Sandra's flight journal. 

I will keep the link in my favorites, Flights of the Mouse,  and continue to add their collection of photos and travel documentation. I have posted 47 of the 56 chapters and hope to have the journal portion completed by the weekend. The picture portion will follow.

Just some background...

Mary and I  met Bo and Sandra while shopping for our Beechcraft Sundowner. It just so happened that my pre-buy was done at the very same airport Bo and Sandra kept their mouse.

I had been reading their flight journal for quite awhile and decided that Mary and I would document our travels and share those stories with our friends and family. Things kind of grew from there, one thing led to another and then I followed up with my first book, Time to Spare...Go by Air.

So, if you get a chance and you frequent my page, please, check out The Flights of the Mouse link and get inspired. If you have already read through their pages, stop back and go through it again, I'm sure you will take away something new or have a whole new appreciation of being a pilot. You'll have some good laughs, and get the inside scoop on places to visit and explore. Enjoy the ride with Bo and Sandra on their magic carpet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

September Plans

Each September Mary and I plan to attend BACFest. This year we will be heading to Louisville, Kentucky for the annual gathering of mice. We're excited to catch up with friends and explore a new destination.
Our typical vacation time is also in September which can be stressful returning home from one event and scrambling to get ready for the next. The double whammy is hard on the pets, and boarding makes it hard on the pocket($). After all is said and done we need a vacation after the vacation to catch our breath and regroup.
We decided to keep our favorite vacation time intact for the third year in a row and made plans for Sanibel Island, Florida. Reservations are locked in and the 'things to do and see' planning has taken on a life of its own. This will be another fun trip taking advantage of our magic carpet. 08Romeo will not only provide transportation to and from our destination, but also make day trips to Key West and other fun spots an easy hop. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Breakfast Flight

08Romeo had preheats on for two days, we needed to fly.  The weather was looking fantastic so today was the day to get the oil pumping. Mary passed on the flight so I was solo.  I did post on Facebook to see who was getting in the air but Chris H (Photographic Logbook) was headed to St. Mary's...In Pennsylvania, NOT across the Chesapeake Bay here in Maryland. Charles G was headed to Richmond, Virginia so he was out and Adam Z wasn't ready to go as early as I was, he was also out.
 I wanted to try some new camera angles out so off I went, solo. I had issues turning on the Activeon CX, the sun glare prevented me from getting a good look at the screen. I launched off of runway three-two and climbed out to smooth flying at just three thousand feet.
Typical flight, hands in my lap, looking for traffic and taking some pictures along the way. I let down for Cambridge as a flight of five was departing the area. I made a nice landing and taxied to an empty ramp with first selection on any tie down.
The church crowd hadn't hit the restaurant yet so I walked right in and was seated. Today's breakfast was creamed chipped beef on biscuits with scrapple. Kay's does not deep fry their scrapple, it's cooked on the grill. No sweet tea this morning, instead, a big mug of hot tea to take the chill out. Maybe next time I'll wear a jacket instead of a flannel over a T-shirt.
As I got ready to climb aboard 08Romeo I noticed there was traffic inbound. I taxied for runway three-four and as I approached a stub taxiway I had to pull power since a Cessna decided not to hold but to zoom out on the same taxiway, well duh. The pilot did taxi across to an open ramp area and waited for me to pass by. Why not just hold short, he was clear of the runway hold short line.
I waited for a beautiful yellow cub to land and then announced my departure. 08Romeo climbed out, above pattern altitude as I kept visual contact on the cub. The flight path was reverse of the flight here, same altitude, three thousand.
When I started this blog I decided I would post my flights, learning moments, great landings, approaches and my screw ups.

Here goes...

I was ten west of Ocean City tracking another aircraft inbound about eight miles ahead of me. When the Saratoga announced I recognized the voice, Mike, the owner of Ocean Aviation. We swapped greetings and each continued in for runway zero-two. Mike announced on the 45° for left down wind, I made my five mile call and a Bonanza announced ten or so south-west inbound. Mike called final, I announced on the 45° for two-zero. Brain fart, it's the wrong runway. The Bonanza quickly checks what the active runway is, polite speak for hey buddy WTH are you doing. I correct my position call and announce for zero-two. Mike clears the runway and advised about the winds, excellent. I turn left base but announce crosswind (heard the mistake on the video). I'm sure at this moment the Bo pilot thinks I'm a hazard and maybe rightly so. I announce final and make a very nice landing, taxi clear and thankfully make my last call.
After securing 08Romeo I drove past the Bo pilot and his bride, who were taking on fuel at the self serve. They both waved but his look was priceless, deservedly so. I hung my head in shame as I drove by and out the gate. Somehow I found my way home. Insert eye roll.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bonfire then Waco, The Plan

Mary and I made plans for visiting Magnolia Markets in Waco Texas back in February 2017.  I had grand plans of shedding the last cast, doing my time in the 'moon' boot then full weight bearing by early April.  Yeah, right.  The doctor had other plans and I wasn't cleared to fly until May. Unfortunately we also missed last years Bonfire gathering in Olathe, Kansas. This year will be different.

The planning has begun, phone calls to FBO's and hotel reservations are in the books. I have been working through multiple flight plan routes, taking into consideration last years plan and working a new plan. Day one will not be an early morning departure from Ocean City, Mary has a doctors appointment first, and then we can head to the plane.

The tentative plan is as follows. Depart OXB for our first fuel stop at W22 - Upshur County Regional Airport located in Buckhannon, West Virginia. A gas and go then back in the air for our overnight stop at KIMS - Madison Municipal Airport located in
Madison, Indiana. I've already talked to the FBO manager and arranged potential transportation and there is a hotel close by with very good taxi service if needed. No big plans for checking out the town, although we may wander around after dinner if we rent or have the courtesy car.

Rise and shine for day two and we launch for our first fuel stop at KFTT - Elton Hensley Memorial Airport located in Fulton, Missouri. This knocks out another state for me and gets us topped off at less then $4 a gallon. From Hensley Airport it will be a rather short hop to our destination of KIXD -  New Century AirCenter Airport in Olathe, Kansas. We have a hotel booked for our stay and we are really looking forward to catching up with friends and fellow pilots at the Bonfire.

The next flight plan will take us from KIXD - Olathe to F10 - Henryetta Municipal Airport
in Henryetta, Oklahoma.  This will be a gas and go plus knock out another new state for me. We'll get back in the air and head to our destination of KACT -
Waco Regional Airport located in Waco, Texas. We have a room reserved and we are both really excited to finally see Magnolia Markets and some of the homes restored on the TV show Fixer Upper.

Mary and I will spend a few days visiting with friends; Sandra from Flights of the Mouse and Mark and Candy from the Beech Aero Club. At some point we will need to head home and hopefully have the tailwinds to speed up that portion of our trip.

We will depart Waco Regional and head for a quick stop at KIER - Natchitoches Regional Airport in Louisiana.  This stop is only to knock out another new to me state and maybe get some eats if we skipped breakfast before departure. From Natchitoches we'll head north-east and make a fuel stop at 7M1 - McGehee Municipal Airport in Arkansas, another new state and $4 a gallon fuel. The last hop for the day will be to KDKX - Knoxville Downtown Island Airport in Tennessee. If we get in at a decent time we will do some snooping around town and find some dinner at a recommended local favorite. This will be our last overnight and hopefully we get a good nights sleep. At this point I think we'll be four to five hours out of Ocean City so we may get some additional sight seeing trips around town prior to our departure.

The last leg of our journey will be from Knoxville to Home, 442 miles, hopefully with tail winds. It's always a welcome sight crossing the Chesapeake Bay and seeing the outline of Ocean City come into view.

Stay tuned for the trip blog post !

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Procedure Turns

The retired life provides plenty of time to read. Here is another question posted on one of the flying forums that I often check into. What are your thoughts, is this PT required?

In the VOR approach for KSYI, if I'm coming in from the North on a heading of 180: (red Arrow)

Cleared for the approach. Not on vectors.

1. Do I need to pass over the SYI VOR first?
2. Do I always have to do the course reversal?

FAR Part 91
Section 91.175 Takeoff and landing under IFR.
(a)Instrument approaches to civil airports. Unless otherwise authorized by the FAA, when it is necessary to use an instrument approach to a civil airport, each person operating an aircraft must use a standard instrument approach procedure prescribed in part 97 of this chapter for that airport. This paragraph does not apply to United States military aircraft.
(j)Limitation on procedure turns. In the case of a radar vector to a final approach course or fix, a timed approach from a holding fix, or an approach for which the procedure specifies “No PT,” no pilot may make a procedure turn unless cleared to do so by ATC.
The AIM states:
5-4-6. Approach Clearance
4. If proceeding to an IAF with a published course reversal (procedure turn or hold­in­lieu of PT pattern), except when cleared for a straight in approach by ATC, the pilot must execute the procedure turn/hold­in­lieu of PT, and complete the approach.

5. If cleared to an IAF/IF via a NoPT route, or no procedure turn/hold­in­lieu of PT is published, continue with the published approach

6. In addition to the above, RNAV aircraft may be issued a clearance direct to the IAF/IF at intercept angles not greater than 90 degrees for both conventional and RNAV instrument approaches. Controllers may issue a heading or a course direct to a fix between the IF and FAF at intercept angles not greater than 30 degrees for both conventional and RNAV instrument approaches. In all cases, controllers will assign altitudes that ensure obstacle clearance and will permit a normal descent to the FAF. When clearing aircraft direct to the IF, ATC will radar monitor the aircraft until the IF and will advise the pilot to expect clearance direct to the IF at least 5 miles from the fix. ATC must issue a straight­in approach clearance when clearing an aircraft direct to an IAF/IF with a procedure turn or hold-in-lieu of a procedure turn, and ATC does not want the aircraft to execute the course reversal.

7. RNAV aircraft may be issued a clearance direct to the FAF that is also charted as an IAF, in which case the pilot is expected to execute the depicted procedure turn or hold­in­lieu of procedure turn. ATC will not issue a straight­in approach clearance. If the pilot desires a straight­in approach, they must request vectors to the final approach course outside of the FAF or fly a published “NoPT” route. When visual approaches are in use, ATC may clear an aircraft direct to the FAF.

Ok, if you read all the way through, thanks.  My thoughts on this subject are as follows. Yes, the procedure turn (PT) is required since not on vectors to final (VTF)and there is no, slice of the pie, for lack of a better description that states no PT.

Better Practice Approaches

I subscribed to IFR Focus and receive emails with their latest release. There is always good info for the IFR pilot to think about and I feel the more we read about safety and discuss our IFR procedures, we will become better pilots. I haven't posted their info in some time but I want to get back to sharing their story.

Please subscribe on the bottom of their page and get yourself in the loop. IFR FOCUS

IFR Focus #20

Better Practice Approaches

It’s easy to get in a rut practicing approaches around your home drome. You know the airports; you know the frequencies; you fly with the same buddy before stopping at the same airport diner for the same pastrami on rye. Or, maybe you don’t even practice approaches enough to have a “same.” Don’t feel bad; you’re not alone.

The winter months see more IFR practice than travel for many light GA pilots. So, amp up your practice—and make it more appealing to do on a regular basis. (Set aside the simulator discussion for now. Let’s just talk about real-world aircraft.)

The two best things you can do are making practice a habit and upping the stakes. The first part is pretty simple: Set a recurring day, say the second Saturday of each month, when you and a friend or two go bore holes in the IFR system for practice. Three people is better because two get to watch while one flies, and there’s still a party if one of the gang must take a day off.

Upping the ante on the experience can happen many ways. Here are a few suggestions:

* Have a focus. Each time you fly, have one thing that’s the core practice for the day. Maybe today it’s partial-panel approaches with an ILS or LPV. That’s all you do. You get to focus on exactly that skill and dial it in. Stick with items that make sense in the real world. If you were really partial-panel, you’d almost certainly find an ILS or LPV, so practicing partial panel without vertical guidance isn’t realistic—unless when you lose your PFD you have no vertical guidance. In that case, partial panel and non-precision would be a great thing to practice.

* Request the option. Rather than ending every flight with a missed approach, let your safety pilot make the call just as you reach minimums or a reasonable visual descent point. You’ll be ready for either. Also, having an option to land might force you to fly a more difficult approach for the runway in use, or fly to circling minimums and circle to the landing runway. Circling is a great skill even if you’d only use it with high ceilings and in daylight. Circle no lower than pattern altitude if you want, but practice maneuvering to land somewhere other than straight-in.

* Remove one thing. This could be a focus topic or something your safety pilot tosses in at random. Just lose one of the tools at your disposal and see what it does to your process. It could be the iPad, your second radio, electric trim, the MFD, flaps, etc. Remove just one thing, however. A variant on this is losing one part of the approach system at the last minute: no glideslope, no GPS position, only an approach with a tailwind available. The key is you don’t know what, or when, until it happens.

* Place a bet. Want to really make practice count? Rate the approaches and have the loser buy lunch. Or the avgas. Believe me, you’ll try harder. The safety pilot must watch for traffic, but if he also has an iPad or tablet, have him grab screenshots for proof. Ideally, the screenshot would show speed and altitude as well as position. ForeFlight or CloudAhoy recordings are great tools for this.

* Debrief. I’m as guilty of not debriefing my own practice as anyone else, even though the instructor in me knows the debrief is as important as the flight itself. Take notes on the other pilot’s flight and have that pilot take notes for you. Use those screenshots as you discuss what happened while you enjoy that lunch. Or beer.

The pilot flying does all the communicating with ATC, except for those requests and traffic calls. A good safety pilot can think ahead and ask for things like alternate missed approach instructions that get you going in the best direction for the next approach, or ask ATC for an impromptu hold to let you catch your breath if things start to fall apart.

Having the right safety pilot is key. You want someone who’s not only legal but knows your airplane and your avionics well enough to give feedback on how you did. If you’re swapping approaches, knowing the equipment is required. It’s helpful to have the safety pilot plan ahead for your next approach request. You also want someone you get along with … and won’t gloat too much when you have to pick up the tab.

I have to add....
Another very good read on IFR Focus. This brings back memories of flying with Mike B and the ever changing simulated IMC world he had me live in when we flew approaches. I miss that torture!