Sunday, October 21, 2007

IFR Long XC: Scratched

What a disappointment. I was all set to go this morning, from Palo Alto to Ukiah to Sacramento and back. I'd planned the flight, gotten the approaches in my head, and was all ready to go.

When I checked out the airplane, 222MF, there was a note in the "observations" section: VOR #1 INOP. Really? So we went out to the airplane to check it. We tuned, identified and twisted Woodside VOR just fine; there was no problem. John guessed that the previous pilot did not know about the switch that changes the CDI from NAV to GPS mode -- we found it in GPS mode.

The fuel was low, so we called the truck, and decided to preflight while waiting for the truck. Control lock out, master on, flaps down, CRUNCH CRUNCH.....FLAPS BACK UP!! What the heck? So we tried it a couple of more times; the flaps did come down but with a LOT of noise and shake. Not good. Certainly not something we wanted to entrust our lives to. So, we scratched the flight.

The bummer is that this is the second consecutive scratched flight. On Friday, we were going to go up in 669TW, but there was no RPM drop when switched to the right magneto, which I learned means that the grounding is not working correctly. Also, we noticed that the compass deviation card was only halfway there. Two problems, no flight.

So now we're going to try to schedule this for November 11. This process is dragging out so much longer than I'd ever imagined. I'm totally shocked that anyone can do this in 10 days in those accelerated programs; it seems ridiculous to think that anyone could get any real proficiency out of that. And for me, especially, since I am not the type to ever have false confidence in myself, I'd probably need to go through the program three or four times before feeling like I could really fly IFR.

The thing is, I feel like I could go now. I feel totally confident in every aspect of IFR flying, except for perhaps the missed approach, except I think I'm getting there with that as well. At this point it's just a matter of scheduling, and always a bit more practice especially when view limited. Perhaps I'll see if I can get a safety pilot and go do some approaches.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Instrument Training Continues

Yes, it's still going. They say this is the hardest rating to get, and I hope they're right because it's extremely difficult. I've been flying twice a week, pretty consistently except for the three-week hiatus when I was in Europe, for most of September. Since then I've gotten back into it, though we've mostly concentrated for the last couple of lessons on autopilot and GPS operations, with the foggles off. It's interesting; I'm so much more relaxed without the foggles on, that I've suggested to John that we slowly phase in the foggle-wearing -- put them on for 0.2 hours next time, 0.4 the following time, etc, so I can acclimate to them slowly.

The last lesson was on Friday; we flew to Stockton, did the VOR 29R approach, and did most of the LOC DME 28R at Hayward on the way back toward Palo Alto. It was a very interesting day in that it seemed to approximate a real-life want-to-fly-IFR-but-should-I experience. The freezing level was below 6000, there were clouds seemingly interspersed along our route, it was windy and bumpy, but with all that, we chose to go because it seemed that it would always be easy to get back to VFR conditions below us, with no mountains to hit. It was a beautiful flight -- there is no feeling like emerging from the clouds and finding yourself in a sunny cloud landscape, zooming just over the tops, so close it feels like you're doing something very unsafe and illegal, which it would be if it were Earth and not clouds.

So, hopefully I'll do my long IFR cross country flight in 2 weeks. In the meantime, I have paperwork to fill out, and books to review....