IMC Training Day #5

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Another new IMC instructor

In order to continue my IMC training, I’d had to arrange for different instructor to take over because neither Roger nor Mike were available. With 9 of the minimum 15 hours completed, I was keen to find a way to finish the course off before the flying club moved out of their Lyneham base in July. With other members also becoming more focussed because of the looming deadline, flying instructors were short on the ground (pun intended). The aircraft were all being used frequently, which also meant they required more frequent maintenance checks.

Ian had kindly agreed to take me on, but could only do this during weekday evenings.He planned to combine this with another IMC student, so I could follow afterwards. This meant leaving work on time and getting to the base shortly after 6, which I did. Today Ian was running late, having helped ferry one of the other aircraft to the maintenance base a few miles away at Oakley Park. So when I arrived, the bay was strangely empty – two of the aircraft were away for checks and the third had just gone up with Ian and his other IMC student. While I waited, I chatted with Dave (who owns most of the club aircraft) and Seb ( the club chairman) and learnt more about the inner workings of the club.

It’s NDB holds and approaches today then

First off, Ian asked me what aspect of IMC training I found most difficult. NDB holds and approaches was my quick reply – too quick by half. OK then, he said, we’ll go a do an NDB hold above Kemble and ask for an NDB approach back into Lyneham. ATC are running on reduced manning levels because the base is in the process of closing, so the full range of instrument approaches are not as widely available and depend on how busy they are at any given time.

Checks complete, we taxied out and took off from 24 with a fairly stiff crosswind of around 10 knots. After climbing out of the zone we tracked an NDB radial out of Lyneham, the into Kemble and then the Compton VOR which Ian was fairly happy with. I’d estimated the wind drift based on the Kemble hold pattern, so when Ian then suggested we do the Lyneham hold instead it did catch me out. I didn’t have the plate to hand which was bad preparation – I will ensure I have those all in my kneeboard for next time.

I’d say my general IMC handling and scan was reasonable but height keeping got out of step a couple of times – need to pay more attention to that. When adding and reducing power to correct the height differences, this changed the trim of the aircraft and meant I was having to work harder than if I could just keep within +/- 50 feet. But I did notice when there was a problem and corrected it before it got out of hand.

NDB holds are tricky

We did a couple of holds in what was quite a strong crosswind. First time around I started the clock for the outbound leg before we were abeam the beacon (ie far too early) which meant that when turning back I was almost pointing north rather than 070 on the inbound leg. Next time around, Ian ensured we had completed the turn and were abeam before starting the timed 1 minute outbound leg. Drift of 3x was applied as explained in the textbook. We also extended it to allow for the crosswind. Turning inbound, we then held the turn about half way round for about 15 seconds, and then intercepted the inbound course.

An NDB approach

By this time, ATC advised us that they’d prefer if we started our NDB approach to avoid conflicting with traffic due later in the evening. We commenced the procedure which involves tracking outbound at 88 degreees (so allowing 14 degrees drift, I was steering about 100) and descended with down to 2600 height. After 7 miles we turned left back towards the airfield on 255 (so again allowed for drift) and descended from 2100 feet at about 300-400 feet per minute. The minimum descent height (for IMC approach on NDB) is 600 feet, so at that point I took off the foggles and transitioned to make a visual landing. Ian suggested I should have already configured the aircraft for landing (ie flaps down, landing checks complete etc), whereas for some reason I was thinking I should wait until becoming visual. Best to have this done early and give less to do at the busier times.

This was my second NDB approach and definitely better than my first. We were cheating a bit by having the DME active, which tells you how far you are from the airfield, your groundspeed and estimated time to get there. This helped confirm the descent profile was correct.


Cleared to land, I practiced some of the crosswind technique from the previous day and we returned to the parking bay. Ian’s debrief to me was that while my IFR flying was general solid (more attention to height keeping), I was not ahead of the aircraft for these NDB procedures but that will come with practice. He wrote out of the radio calls for the procedure – what to announce when joining the hold and commencing the NDB procedure – and encouraged me to read the plates again. I will ensure I have copies of all the different approaches for Lyneham to hand in future. Overall, progress seems to be good and if I can continue to keep up the continuity, it may be possible to complete the course in around the minimum hours (but no promises).

Hopefully another lesson tomorrow evening, weather dependant.

Time today: 1:30
Total IMC training time: 10:30

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