The flight instructors in our club at Gloucester work hard and fly a lot. But like many, they may rarely fly very far away nor do much IMC. I took two for a short demonstration flight to Cardiff and back in the TB20. One had no IMC rating, the other had one but it has lapsed. Neither had much experience of retractable/VP aircraft and autopilot with most of their instructing on the club PA28 Warriors. This isn’t unusual.
The weather wasn’t suitable for VFR pilot training so they both had time to spare and they were enthusiastic about taking a short trip in the TB20 to Cardiff. We had to dodge a few nasty looking clouds but those we did enter weren’t as turbulent as I had anticipated.
Outbound vectored ILS into Cardiff
I let one sit in the left seat but took off and largely flew the outbound leg using the autopilot, explaining how to make full use of the GTN650. Cardiff agreed to a vectored ILS when we arrived unannounced, but it became clear we’d be number three in the sequence behind some larger commercial traffic. Rather than being given a hold, we were vectored into controlled airspace and took a roundabout route onto final. It sometimes seems strange that vectoring doesn’t happen earlier, when outside controlled airspace but clearly it’s preferable to be in a controlled environment as much as possible and the length of delay required will be better known when you are closer to your destination.
All it needs is a couple of twiddles with the heading bug when under autopilot, so pretty easy to accomplish. I setup the autopilot and GTN to fly the procedure, capturing the localiser and glideslope after we were vectored into position and disconnecting it at the decision height of around 200 feet.
The only disappointment was the slightly less that perfect landing, it would have been nice to pull off a greaser when under the scrutiny of such experienced instructors. There was another aircraft on approach behind us, so we were encouraged to vacate quickly.
On the ground we made good use of the friendly cafe above the flight school.
Return vectored ILS into Gloucester
Much of the return leg was flown manually, so that my passenger could get a feel for the aircraft. We asked for an RNAV back into Gloucester and were slightly surprised to be vectored into position. He captured and flew the glideslope very precisely, making a very good attempt for one of his first instrument approaches.
It seems disappointing to me that so many club and flight school instructors have comparatively little experience of longer distance trips (in Single Engine aircraft, even if they are airline pilots). This was one of the main attractions to me of learning to fly in the first place. An IR(R) rating should be very useful to cope with British weather and could enable VFR flight instruction such as first climbing on top of the cloud layer prior to some general handling exercises. It could also be very helpful to get back down after the unexpected onset of marginal weather.
I don’t think its unusual to find instructors without instrument qualifications, and it’s even possible to become a PPL Flight Examiner without one. An IR(R) isn’t required in order to teach for the full PPL course and there are many excellent VFR instructors for whom it would never be relevant – especially if they only ever fly VFR aircraft such as Permit/Annex II.
PIC today: 1:35
Total PIC: 488:05
Total Time: 627:30