Simulated Instrument Flight and a recap

Well, fast forward quite a bit! A bit of a recap, I did do the wing drop stalls solo and found them actually not too bad. Once I had the correct recovery procedure memorised to an instinctive reaction it really wasn’t hard to do. Only got 4 in before increasing cloud at 3000 feet meant it wasn’t safe for me to continue so I made a command decision to return to the airport for some circuits. Paul complimented me for making a command decision early and sticking with it instead of sticking around and possibly getting into trouble. From that flight onwards I haven’t been scared of any flying, steep turns included. OK, since my last flight I have completed the following dual/solo lessons: Steep Turns (lots of fun these, but quite tiring as you are at 2G for about 30 seconds at a time), Low Flying (including some Mountain flying – was supposed to be in not so nice weather but all 3 lessons I had were in near perfect flying conditions), Precautionary Landings (sort of like Forced Landings except you have a perfectly functioning airplane so going around is OK), Max Performance Takeoffs/Precision Landings (lots to remember here but rewarding when you get it right – the solo session was quite frustrating because the circuit had 4 planes in there with me so I was making life hard for the Tower having to stop and backtrack on each landing). Haven’t had the right weather for crosswind landings although today would have been good, but I hadn’t booked a briefing so its Foggles Time!

Foggles are aptly named. They are a pair of safety goggles like what you would use for sanding with roughly the top two thirds of the lens frosted. The upshot is, when you have your head inside the cockpit you cannot see outside the windows which forces you to concentrate solely on what the planes instruments are telling you. Of course, the instructor in the right seat isn’t wearing them and they act as what the legal documentation calls a safety pilot, effectively your eyes outside the plane keeping a lookout for you. You must fly the plane precisely on headings and altitudes nominated by the safety pilot or in the real world were you to stray into Instrument Metrological Conditions (IMC) these would be nominated by the local radar station.

One of the nice things is that your flying really smoothes out as you make small adjustments. The instrument flight mantra I am trying to learn goes like this: change, check, wait, adjust. So to initiate a change in the aircrafts configuration (which is required to turn/climb/descend) you make the change, then stop, wait for the instruments to catch up with what the plane is doing (this takes up to a few seconds), then make miniscule adjustments to the controls until you get the aircraft to a flight configuration you want it to be in. I had my first instrument lesson yesterday with Greg, and I thought I went quite well.

I guess Greg thought so too because he made me land it with the foggles on! Well not quite but we touched down and I still had the foggles on. He was calling out headings and power settings and I simply concentrated on keeping the numbers working, airspeed, rate of descent and rpm. Today I got to fly with Roger as the safety pilot/instructor, and I got a compliment from him about my airmanship which made me feel good about my thoroughness in the checks. It’s a pity I pulled the throttle out instead of the mixture when I shut it down (I still can’t believe I did that! I was so embarrassed). Got to do a crosswind landing today (runway 18 and wind at 300) and I did the approach OK (Roger got me to take the foggles off during the downwind leg), I got the approach right but just before the threshold the wind did something weird and Roger had to help me sort it out. We got down just fine but it was a bit tense for a second there.

I did another Instrument lesson with Paul, who gave me another first, a passenger!! All I knew was that he was wanting to fly WAM but had missed his booking but wanted to see what it was like so he asked Paul if he could come up with us. Paul asked me if it was alright and I agreed, since I was going to be wearing the foggles the whole time we could have taken a plane load of people up and I wouldn't notice! :) Fortunately the weather was good, winds 183@8kts so not a problem. The lesson went quite well. I got so engrossed in what I was doing I forgot I had a passenger and he kindly kept quiet and let Paul instruct. I bet the unusual attitude recovery gave him an anxious moment or two though! The weather was good enough for another foggles landing which I thought was my best so far. I even got congratulations from my passenger, who turned out to the the Aero Club President!!