first instrument approach

It's been a while since I had any dual (instruction) time -- since
August -- so I went up on Saturday with my primary instructor, Tim.
The plans were a little vague; just brush up on everything.

He had me do a couple of steep turns first. On the first one, I held
altitude, but then forgot to pull out the extra power on rolling out.
On the second, I didn't get the power in soon enough. It's obvious
that I'm a little rusty there, but it wasn't too bad.

Next was some engine-out practice into Plum Island. On the first
attempt, I managed to get myself abeam the numbers at 1000 feet and
really pretty well set up. But then I bungled the rest of the
landing, as I turned base too soon, didn't slip enough, and couldn't
bleed off enough altitude to make a good landing. Rather than
overshoot, I went around. Someone had just taxied off the runway and
he thought I was aborting the landing because of him, so Tim had to
explain that we'd blown it ourselves and he wasn't to blame.

I tried again. I came in a little better, but still too high. Tim
took the controls and put us right down to maybe 50 feet; perhaps
less. With full flaps, we still ended up with a lot of speed, but I
was able to make a decent landing from there. Lesson learned: don't
worry so much about a stable approach; worry instead about getting on
the ground at the best possible spot.

On taking off out of Plum Island, he had me put on the hood and head
for the Isles of Shoals. He called up Boston Approach and got us a
practice ILS 34 into PSM. My first instrument approach! They
vectored me for intercepting the localizer at 3000 feet, and I managed
to do that part without too much incident. I even started a stable
descent without trouble.

But staying within the lateral bounds is much harder indeed. We
wandered back and forth, and once or twice Boston called us and said
"we're showing you to the left of course" or "we're showing you to the
right of course." There really ought to be a "student driver" button
on the transponder ... they must have thought we were drunk. In any
event, I was able to wander in towards the runway, and at about 500
feet, Tim had me take the hood off. Like magic, the runway was right
in front of us. I was surprised and disoriented enough that I had
trouble maintaining my previously reasonable approach, bounced twice,
forgot about the crosswind, and ultimately made the right choice by
rejecting the landing.

Still, a really good experience.

We then went back to LWM under the hood, and he had me do the VOR
approach for 23. This involved a lot more work than the ILS, with a
couple of intermediate altitudes to fly and hold while waiting for
certain positions. After I was at the MDA for a bit, he had me take
off the hood. The runway was a bit to my right, but I made a half-way
decent landing.

It was about 1.5 hours of work, and a lot of good practice.

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