After a three week gap, the availability of good weather, aircraft and instructor all aligned and I was again in the air with foggles to obscure the view.
With a view to improving my accuracy when on instruments, Ian had me alternately climbing and descending. Each time we reached FL30 we’d climb and then at FL40 we’d descend. At the same time, he asked me to turn (Rate 1) alternately between North and South, reversing the turn direction when reaching the new heading.
While this seems like hard work, what it did bring out to me was the importance of concentrating primarily on the Atitude Indicator, and just scanning quickly to the other instruments for confirmation. When making changes, I should be looking exclusively at the AI and only when settled start checking elsewhere. During long turns or climbs, there’s less need to continuously check the DI or Altimeter. As the target heading or height comes nearer, I found it useful to call out how much to go so that I didn’t overshoot.
It did seem a bit like practicing scales on a musical instrument – good practice. I don’t think Ian fully appreciated my joke about him being akin to the Grand Old Duke of York marching up and down the hill though!
We then practiced how to recover from unusual attitudes both under full panel and partial panel situations. Ian put the aircraft into a spiral dive or high attitude condition, and I recovered. Power first – adding if the speed is dropping, reducing if the speed is increasing; then roll the wings level, then pitch up/down, adding power if necessary during the recovery. I seem to have the hang of this now. During the partial panel recoveries, it’s important to give the instruments a few moments to see what the effects of major changes are, then do some more (or less) to avoid overcontrolling.
Overshooting the ILS
With Lyneham due to close in a few weeks, permission for instrument landings very much depends on what other activities are going on at that time and availability of ATC staff. Fortunately, they were able to handle an NDB to ILS approach. I followed the procedure, descending on the outbound leg to 2600 feet, turning at 8 miles on the DME, going straight for about 30 seconds, then turning to intercept the ILS at 45 degrees.
With wind about 20 degrees off the runway heading at about 20 knots, we had previously calculated a drift of about 7 degrees. I waited for the ILS localiser to establish, but by the time it did, we were well above the glidepath. I was confused – I thought I had done it right. Ian then pointed out my mistake – I hadn’t done a FREDA check recently and the DI was some 20 degrees out! I had tracked outbound at perhaps 110 degrees rather than 88, turned quickly and was too far south. When I turned to intercept the ILS, I would have been turning too early and as a result intercepted too late.
Executing a missed approach
Ian let me take my foggles off to see how high and close to the airfield we were. In low cloud situation, we wouldn’t see anything of course, but it did show clearly where we had ended up. We then continued ahead to the missed approach point and executed a missed approach – simply climbing ahead to 1600 feet.
Radar vectors for ILS letdown
We asked for and were granted a further ILS letdown, this time with radar vectors. These were relatively simple to follow, turn to this heading, turn to that etc. Due to other ATC activity, we weren’t told when to turn onto the ILS and again overshot. We were then instructed to turn right through 270 degrees and after a further course change were lined up on the localiser. We climbed to the procedure height to intercept the glideslope and followed it down. Tracking of the glideslope was pretty good, although I was a few degrees off the localiser – Ian told me not to make large course corrections, just ensure that the ILS was correcting rather than drifting away.
Low level circuit and land
At the decision height, the foggle came off, we could see the runway. It had a couple of rather large Hercules parked on it! As we flew a low level circuit and came round again, they both took off in tandem. After we landed (stopping before where the first one had been lined up, so no problem of wake vortex), we were then treated to a TALO (Tactical Airlift Landing?) where both landed on the same runway at the same time (one in front of the other) – a manoeuvre designed to take control of airfields.
Parked up, refuelled and debriefed.This had been my longest IMC training flight to date – 2 hours from brakes off to on, of which some 1:40 was IFR. With over 13 hours of IMC training completed, I now need only a further 1:20 to meet the minimum 15 hour dual training time requirement of the course. I’ve already completed more than 10 of those hours “under the hood” and passed the theory exam, so hopefully will be ready for the practical test (checkride) after the next lesson.
This last stage has gone quite quickly, even with the gap since my last lesson and I can’t quite believe I’m this close to finishing it off.
Ian said he would make sure to discuss with me the limitations and purpose of the IMC rating when we next meet. It’s not a full Instrument Rating by any means, so I think he wants me to understand what can and can’t (shouldn’t) be done. He’s already said several times that taking off in a single engine plane in 600 feet cloudbase isn’t a good idea – a forced landing as you descend from the clouds at that height would give such a limited time to select and fly to a suitable landing field that it makes for a much higher risk.
A long but satisfying day
Having got to the club after work around 18:30, and flown from 19:15 to 21:15, it was about 10pm by the time I left – a pretty full day. I do appreciate being able to fly in the evenings after work, something that is often far less available at many other airfields. With Lyneham closing in a few weeks, it remains to be seen whether this will be possible at the club’s new location.