ILS practice at Coventry

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A bank holiday and reasonable winter weather conditions meant there was an early opportunity to fly in the New Year. With many airfields closed, including Kemble, the choice of destinations was more limited than usual. I’d been in touch with Andy and we had arranged to fly up to Coventry and practice our IMC skills. With a revalidation test due for him later in the year, Andy wanted to refresh his skills and get back into practice. Although Kemble was closed, they did permit aircraft based at the field to fly out provided the pilots had signed the appropriate indemnity forms.

SNUZ in the sunlight
SNUZ enjoys basking in the sun at Wellesbourne

Wellesbourne for lunch

Andy flew the outbound leg, which he wrote up in detail in his own blog. He flew this mostly under the hood and landed at Wellesbourne, which was not only open but pretty busy. Since Coventry didn’t have any catering open (there is a pub across the road though), this was a good first stop. He then took off and followed the Daventry approach onto the ILS for a landing, with me acting as Safety Pilot and thinking a couple of times that I’d have to take control. He flew the procedure very well and set a high standard to follow.

Wellesbourne Airfield Cafe
Wellesbourne Airfield Cafe

Although there were no facilities and it was a Bank Holiday, the staff were very helpful. A marshall showed us where to park, the fuel tender came and filled us up, and the landing fees were paid at the nearby club office. Both fuel and approach/landing fees were very reasonable.

ILS practice at Coventry

It was my turn now, and I called the tower to book a slot for an ILS approach. Initially following the missed approach procedure, there was some misinterpretation of the height I should be flying at – I was a bit on the high side which was rectified. We had a full radar service from Coventry tower who presumably co-ordinate with Birmingham and would have advised us if this had become a problem. Next time, I’ll ensure that I fully grasp the path and heights required. They asked if we wanted to climb up into the hold, but I had earlier elected to repeat the same Daventry VOR path that Andy had done.

The Daventry approach tracks away from the VOR, and we called when established on the correct radial. The DME on the aircraft has a “remote” switch that I hadn’t noticed before (I normally fly another of the club Warriors which doesn’t have this feature). This slaves the DME to the VOR frequency selected on the main NAV communication panel. Additionally, there is a switch to toggle between VOR 1 and VOR 2. Apart from avoiding entering the wrong frequency, it allows quick switchover between two different VORs. This was ideal for this trip because initially we were tracking away from the Daventry VOR (on NAV2) and reporting our position based on distance from it. Later, we were then inbound on the ILS and needed it to be reporting the distance related to that – a quick flick of the switch made it easy.

The turn to capture the ILS was perhaps a bit too quick and I needed to remind myself to maintain a 30 degree intercept course and turn as soon as the needle started to move. It’s surprising how quickly you forget some of the finer points of the IMC training course. Tracking inbound, we heard over the radio of one aircraft being positioning behind us and another landing VFR in front. I was focussing on the ILS needles and tracked these down pretty reasonably, trying not to make any major control inputs and using the AI as the primary instrument. As we approached minima, the tower asked our intentions and I called going around (I checked that this is the correct phrase to use, rather than saying you are making a missed approach).

Some VOR tracking under the hood

We flew over the runway and climbed out, following the right track but I think again probably not at quite the right height. As we departed the zone, Andy suggested we practice some VOR tracking and dreamt up a couple of intercepts and radials to follow. This worked OK until I forgot I should be looking out for the Kemble NDB intercept. It was only when Brize Radar asked what our intentions were that I realised we were heading for the Zone and that Andy was keeping quiet to see if I had noticed!

I’d say my VOR tracking was adequate but my understanding of the proposed route and intercepts wasn’t. Perhaps that’s because it was dreamt up on the move, rather than something I had been involved in planning myself. Note for next time, make sure there is a good plan beforehand and research/practice it on the simulator as well.

Got back just ahead of the weather

We flew the rest of the short leg back to Kemble VFR and as we approached I saw a rather large set of dark clouds not too far off. We had had the best of the weather. I almost made a quick right base approach for runway 26 but thought that we would have enough time before the weather closed in, so instead made a crosswind join allowing us to inspect the runway and windsock before landing. As we put the covers on, the rain started but we finished before we got wet.

Technical Details

Today’s flight was in G-SNUZ, a PA28 Warrior 2, rented from the RAF Lyneham Flying Club, now based at Kemble Airfield, a VFR only airfield in the UK. The aircraft has ADF, 2xVOR, ILS, GPS (with moving map display), DME and dual altimeters. The flight was mostly simulated IMC (under the hood) with VFR for takeoff, approach and landing,  from Coventry to Kemble first making a return ILS approach to Coventry.

Total flight time today: 1:45 (of which 1:00 under the hood)
Total PIC time to date: 76:15
Total flight time to date: 167:20

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