Sunday, March 09, 2008

One more step

I finally completed my Instrument Phase Check about 10 days ago, but it was not without its difficulties. I'm not at all happy with how the phase check went, and as a result, there will be considerable gap in time between then and my check ride as I get myself ready for it.

I was assigned an instructor, Ali, to conduct the phase check, who had been highly recommended to me by my PPL CFI Sergey as a potential instrument instructor, so I was excited to get his take on my flying. I did have to wait, though, as Ali showed up over an hour late to our appointment. He did call ahead to say he'd be late, but I did not anticipate an hour.

We started with the ground exam, where I knew I had many weak areas. Ali quickly found many of them and just started going over what topics I should concentrate on reviewing. This did nothing for my confidence, but on the other hand I knew it was going to go this way, so I didn't worry too much about it.

We then went for the practical section. He did not have me file anything; he told me that we'd take a VFR departure and then see what we could figure out. I had to press him pretty hard to give me some kind of a plan so I could at least have the appropriate plates out. We took off, and as it was not an actual IFR departure (meaning, copying the clearance and all that, though we did simulate it), I fell out of my rhythm a little bit and forgot to start the clock as I started rolling. He dinged me for that later.

We went out and he had me set up a hold at the TRACY intersection, which I did well. We requested the ILS 25R to Livermore, but things were really busy so we changed plans and did the GPS-A at Tracy instead. This went very well, and I got back into the hold at TRACY on the missed approach. Here he tried to rush me into setting up for Livermore, but I insisted on taking my time. We flew the ILS 25R and were told to circle to land 7R. Here's where I made my big error, which I'm really embarrassed by: I lined up for 7L. By the time I realized it, the tower was already on me (they were very nice about it considering what I'd done).

We got out of there and he had me set up for and fly the Hayward VOR-A, which I did OK except I didn't descend as quickly as I should have.

So the write-up basically says that I have to study ground material, and that I'm not as attentive as I should be. I think that's pretty accurate for the performance I gave that afternoon; I don't think it's true in general, but I also think that if I ace the ground section I'll have more energy to be more attentive during the flight portion.

Since then I've been studying ground information and having John ask me about it. So far we've studied the flight instruments; I know now things about turn coordinators that would make a nun blush. Next is weather and chart reading.


Colin Summers said...

I am shocked at how much people will put up with in a flight instructor.

There's not a reason in the world a CFII can't be on time for the FIRST meeting of a prospective student. My time is valuable, and I would have fired him on the spot.

The idea that you would do an instrument phase check without actually filing an instrument flight plan is ludicrous.

I guess if you are on a tight budget it's okay to put up with people who are less than professional. I would look into people like Max Trescott or Jeff Mossy.

MKT said...

Thanks for the note Colin, and I completely agree. Aside from being ludicrous, it makes it really difficult to prepare as one would for an actual IFR situation.

I should clarify -- the phase check instructor is assigned by the club and is a one-time thing. Thus my decision to stick with him for the rest of the evening; I figured I should just get it done...but I was really annoyed.