Crisscrossing Florida

Like any private pilot with a newly minted certificate, I was nervous before my first instrument flight being instrument rated. I was tempted to tell the Tower and ATC to go easy on me. But I decided to keep that to myself. Afterall, I had demonstrated proficiency to several instructors and ultimately an examiner.

Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.
~Winston Churchill

This past weekend I flew four instrument cross country flights. Three were in Florida. Ask me about Florida weather! That state is a cloud machine.

I could bore you with mundane details of each flight, but this time, I’ll keep it brief:


Trip #1
Opened in Mobile, AL (KMOB) going to Jacksonville, FL (KCRG). Right after departure, I was vectored slightly around a storm with heavy precipitation. Skies were fairly tame and a large part of visual meteorological conditions (VMC) meaning I could see the ground and wasn’t too close to clouds.

Mississippi River
Then we came up behind a storm already in progress. My real-time weather detector (the windshield) advised I go the south of it so we informed ATC of this request. While we went through a few bumpy clouds on the backside, it wasn’t so bad. I was told I couldn’t do an instrument approach into Jacksonville at night so I did a practice approach and landed visually. 3.1 hours

Trip #2
Opened at Jacksonville, FL going to Key West (KEYW). Right after take-off, we were in clouds. These fluffy white clouds were scattered all over Florida ranging from 3000 feet above the ground to 10’s of thousands of feet high. I was vectored around a couple of storms but they weren’t too imposing on my flight path. Around Naples, FL we left clouds and started the flight over ocean water. THAT was nerve wracking. I kept thinking to the airplane, please don’t fail me now! But for all the worry, it was over very quickly. I was allowed to do another practice approach. 3.6 hours

Somewhere around Ocala, FL

Above Marco Island, FL


Trip #3
Opened in Key West going to Tallahassee, FL (KTLH). Another flight in and out of clouds, and this time vectored only once around a storm. After we emerged north of Tampa, a convective sigmet was announced for the area. We had good timing! Tallahassee said the ILS and glideslope were inoperative so I didn’t bother with an approach. The skies were clear and I could see the runway. That was my only instrument flight without an approach this weekend. 3.6 hours

Somewhere east of Tampa, FL


Trip #4
Opened at Monroe, LA (KMLU) going home to Addison, TX (KADS). Rusty was exhausted from flying under clouds from Florida to Louisiana. He originally said he’d take that last flight but then later let me do it. Without hesitation, I took him up on the offer to let him rest on the right side. There was a convective sigmet (thunderstorms) over the Dallas area that was predicted to move off around the time we expected to arrive. I studied the weather information then spoke to a briefer. The trip was actually VMC the whole way and Rusty totally could have done it, but we just didn’t know. I was able to do my instrument approach to Addison landing on the 33 numbers.


Almost at YEAGR along DUMPY4 east of Dallas, TX
This whole weekend was a terrific start for using my new instrument rating. I got to plan, file, fly it, then shoot approaches in visual conditions. It was easy enough and a good confidence booster.


What’s next?
How about practice approaches to airports with DME arcs then a fly-in to Lubbock next month? Stay tuned for more!


Leaving Key West with my favorite co-pilot

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