Private Pilot Resources - Aviation Blog

I obtained my private pilot license in 2006. This site is dedicated to capturing little gems of knowlege I collected during training. Periodically I add items I find during research so that others might benefit from them. Please review the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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Location: San Jose, CA, United States

In 1999 a friend invited me to go flying and I was hooked. I live in the Bay Area about an hour south of San Francisco and fly out of Reid Hillview (KRHV). Please do get in touch and lets go fly!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Salinas IFR Ride Along

These are some pictures from a flight with my friend Michael who owns this lovely Skylane 182. Michael is working on his IFR license and on Tuesday evening he allowed me to share a ride on a typical IFR lesson. The plan was for a flight from RHV to SNS with a few practice approaches on the VOR 13 approach and a couple of MARNA holds. After that, a ride over to shoot the Localizer 02 approach into Watsonville. I have had my license for 2 years now, but even as a passenger I had never flown in actual IFR conditions in a GA airplane. As luck would have it, the low clouds moved in and we had a solid layer over the Salinas airport. Only about 800 feet thick, but a fantastic experience. Fantastic as in scary, weird and yet serene. The realization that reliance on what the equipment in front of you tells you is truly the only thing that tells you where you are (provided you can interpret it) and where you're going and how you're getting there (hopefully not inverted). First approach was on a partial panel and we got way off course, declared the missed and headed out to MARNA, second approach with a full panel much better, but as we headed into the clouds I could feel the plane turn right... right... right. We exited the clouds still turning heavy right. It was a fantastic learning experience just watching my friend and getting a feeling for the incredible challenge of managing navigation with zero visibility while keeping wings level, maintaining a heading and managing the descend. If anybody thinks that foggles provide a good simulation of flying in actual IMC...think again. A few hours flying under the hood, no comparison...ever notice that occasionally you get some light or glimse something outside the airplane. Not so in real IFR. It's just dull white like everything outside the plane got erased. Now I've flown through this stuff many times on an airliner, looked outside and thought...I know I wouldn't do it, but I probably could. It finally hit me what the difference was. I didn't have instruments in front of me. This flight had a profound experience on me. Observing from the back it was easy to see how anybody behind the airplane could become disoriented and put the plane upside down even in less than 1000 feet of cloud cover.

The second most valuable experience was learning to understand the clearances and radio communications that come along with flying in the clouds.Turns out that I had been far too intimidated about what might be required. Instructions are very straight forward. request the desired approach from Norcal including whether you just plan to fly the missed approach or to a full stop, Norcal comes back and provides vectors to fly a heading, maintain assigned altitude until established and switch frequencies to tower or CTAF. Establish radio contact on the missed and advise intentions.

All in all a very enlightening experience and encouragement to start my own IFR ticket. I probably wouldn't use it much except in thin layers that were high enough above ground, but just for safety sake it's the way to go. For those of you reading this that have your license, but have never been in IFR other than on commercial flights I can only encourage you to ask around, share a ride (with an IFR training flight, student at the controls, because an instructor makes it look simple) and prepare for a most thrilling experience.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:29 PM  

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