Practice IFR

I went up again this morning to practice an ILS approach at Mesquite. It was a good flight in that we survived and I have identified areas to continue practicing on and learning. I feel comfortable with departures, now I need to refine my procedures to bug my heading and altitude changes ahead of time. I'm still getting used to approaches so I can't claim comfort there yet.

While I was driving home, it dawned on me that having an IFR Practice checklist will help me be more prepared. Something like this:

I may tweak this a bit before I go up again next week but it's a decent beginning.

LBB Family Adventure

With my mom only minutes away from Town & Country Airport in Lubbock, it makes sense from a pilot perspective to fly in to the small strip for a weekend visit. Renting a small airplane is expensive and adds its own complications, but the big payoff is more time with my mom. Here's how our travel options compare:

From Dallas to Lubbock
*Varies. Renters charge minimum flight hours, usually fuel cost included/reimbursed. C172 is about $145/hr 
Short distance + long time = expensive

Learning from our past adventures, we gave the kids Dramamine, had games for them to play, a nap pillow (inflatable), and extra barf bags just in case. Luckily, there was no puking this trip. Just emergency peeing in a bottle.

My mom did us supreme by renting a Jeep to pick us up then get around town in. Parking the plane is free if we pay for gas, which we need to do anyway.

The original master plan was for me to fly us to Lubbock in the 172 and for Rusty to fly us home. However, I have fallen out of practice landing the 172 in crosswinds. The last several times I touched down on one wheel before the other or came down a bit hard. It was decided Rusty would fly us. Although I absolutely love to fly, I was at peace with this.

Captain Rusty & Co-Captain Sarah
Elliot killing pigs & Joshua asking me to stop taking pictures
We flew in a Cessna equipped with a Garmin 1000 and an autopilot making the journey super easy. We were cleared to fly directly over DFW airport. Major commercial airplanes were landing below us. I had an awesome picture of DFW and a commercial flight landing below us, but those pictures are MIA.  :-(

Once we were out of the busy DFW airspace, we climbed to 6500 feet where we met 25-30 knot headwinds. We played with Garmin's engine assist feature to lean the mixture. I got it leaned to 8.4 then later we leaned it even more to 7.7 gallons per hour. The headwinds were making me nervous. We had enough fuel to get there but we were touching the yellow warning mark at arrival.

I found the airport...

"Do you have the airport in site?"
"It's right there- almost under the nose."
"Oh shoot, I need to turn!"

...Rusty did a good landing.

We filled it up with fuel and emptied out our luggage. Mom picked us up and away we went for our weekend visit.

Although Rusty wanted to return Sunday afternoon, there was no chance of it. High winds directly crossing the runway kicked up dust causing marginal visibility. We hung out for one more day (yay!) and spent time with friends.

Monday morning we packed up, said our good-byes then prepared to go.

Then the propeller wouldn't budge.

Rusty tried a few more times, adjusting mixture, throttle, fuel pump, no fuel pump, turn the key- click click.

It was the battery gone kaput.

I called the place we rented from for guidance then located someone at the airport to jump the battery. No, it's not like a car with another airplane hooked up. I assume it's a battery or generator contraption. The guy that showed up to help us decided it would be faster for him to hand crank the prop than to rig a 24 volt battery to jump us. After about 6-8 nerve wracking turns and a few false ka-chugs, it finally started! Images of lost limb with blood splattering the windshield and boys scarred for life melted with relief as he backed away and waved us good-bye.

Thank you Dan!!!

Rusty's voice was lost from a recent cold so I handled radios for a little bit until he got it back loud enough. Enroute to Dallas, we had almost no wind to contend with so we made good time. Although we were tempted to climb to 7500 feet to take advantage of better winds, Rusty decided to just chill at 5500. We knew Addison was reporting haze and we could see it like a cloud on the land.
Somewhere between Lubbock and Addison
Traffic much?
The boys both had to pee on the way home. This time I was more prepared having a Vitamin water bottle. (wider opening, sturdier structure)

In all it was a good flight both legs and I don't regret being Rusty's co-pilot for a moment. Yeah sure I love to fly, but this time I got to take pictures and relax!

Lights Turned On

We discussed approach plates this evening in ground school. What once seemed so mysterious was dissected and defined. Not only are there tons of abbreviations yet to learn (I don't know them all yet but you bet I'll make fun of them here), there are different kinds of approaches and various complications to watch out for.

We looked at a few very simple approaches (small town airports) based around VOR technology. In a nutshell, ya find your inbound radial and get on it (following procedures), fly over various points that signal an action (like descend), until you're close enough to see the airport and land.  I'm feeling inspired by the minutephysics series on YouTube (my choice of the month for pre-bedtime kid entertainment) and aim to create a fun (accurate) depiction of reading approach plates. Someday. maybe.

ok, I may end up being a loser like this character:

I digress- The whole journey from point A to B seems so straight forward in concept that I can't wait to try it out in the airplane, something called "shooting an approach". Monday morning I have a date with an airplane and good weather. Hopefully both will be in attendance.  :-)

IMC VFR Flight

Ok, that title is an exaggeration. My CFII and I were heading to Sulpher Springs for a short cross country to practice VOR tracking. Things were groovy until almost to our destination clouds were encroaching. As ironic as it may seem that during IFR training we turned away from clouds, we had to because we had not filed an IFR flight. So I didn't get my cross country time in, but I did get some good navigation practice, and more importantly, I got to fly!  :-)

During the flight I was intensely focused on keeping the heading, the altitude, the radio calls, etc that my shoulder started feeling tense. In a split second, a thought made me laugh out loud. That's right. I cracked myself up. This is what I was remembering:

Moving on....

Earlier this week I attended an FAA Safety seminar about approaches. It was a good session and I'm glad I went! It started out as a discussion on VFR approaches, particularly identifying hazards, knowing the runway and surrounding area, and illusions that can make pilot's misjudge the approach and landing. The second half was all about IFR approaches. Now I haven't finished all the ground school lessons on IFR flight so there's still some topics of mystery to me. Approach plates are one of those. After the safety sessions evaluation of some tricky approaches (and how certain mistakes in certain places can be deadly) I feel less mystified and more anxious about IFR approaches.

Next week is too busy for me to fly. BUT I'm soon done with work for vacation time and I intend to fly fly fly while I can!  :-)

IMC Flight, not so much

This morning was perfect conditions to practice flying in IMC. It was overcast up to 3,300 feet, low crosswind, functional C172 Skyhawk-

er, maybe.

I put myself on the schedule for an impromptu practice flight but turns out the newly maintained Cessna is not been test flown to ensure recent GPS upgrades are in proper working order. After the test flight, the schedule is packed by other students and people going up for discovery flights.

Instead of flying today, I'm being domestic: sweeping the floor, washing dishes, cleaning the downstairs bathroom, making lunches.  All busy work to take my mind off the canceled flight.

Maybe next week Friday will work out.



Blog Archive

Search This Blog