...so there we were taking off and climbing through 1000 feet, when Justin asked me to complete the climb checklist. I need to be better about making a show of the checklist--I've been flying by myself for about a year and I tend to complete the checklists in my head from memory, but FAA examiners like to see you do it, and it is a more reliable practice.
As we leveled off at 1,500 feet MSL (which around here is about the same as AGL), Justin took the controls and I donned the view obstructing device. He then transfered the controls back to me and gave me a variety of headings to take while he fiddled with the radios. After asking for clearance to transition the Class D airspace at Jax NAS, he put a napkin over my vacuum powered devices (The heading indicator and the artificial horizon) and asked me what do I do now?
We then went through the change in primary instrument references for this situation. Power is still monitored by the tachometer, pitch is still monitored by the altimeter, but bank is monitored by the turn coordinator. It was different not being able to constantly refer back to the artificial horizon and the heading indicator. You would think that with fewer instruments, one would be less likely to fixate on one instrument, but I found myself paying too much attention to the turn coordinator and as we entered the updrafts and downdrafts surrounding the rainstorms we were passing near, I allowed the plane to gain and lose too much altitude. Although I remained within the 200 foot requirement for the lesson, I wasn't real happy about my altitude control. I was also having a hard time trimming the plane - it seemed like as soon as I'd get to the desired altitude and set the trim, I'd start climbing or diving. It was very frustrating. Considering that during the entire trip from Crystal River (CGC) that I made just a few hours earlier, I never deviated from my desired altitude by more than 40 feet, I cannot explain why I was having such trouble other than we were experiencing some strong up/down drafts.
We then practiced turns to a heading relying on the whiskey compass. Following the UNOS (Undershoot North, Overshoot South) mantra, I attempted to turn to the headings designated by Justin. Overall, I think I did pretty well.
As we were crossing back from the westside of Jacksonville, Justin contacted Jax center to request vectors to CRG. We were given a discrete squawk code and headed over the river. Justin tends to talk quite a bit during our flights and it was impossible to hear anything over the radios. His mic has also lost its foam cover, so there is quite a bit of noise from wind and other noises coming from his mic. As we were crossing the river, he radioed Jax Approach to cancel our following and I heard a very faint, "Warrior 33Hotel, how do you read?" During his fiddling with the controls, he had turned the volume down on the radio to the point that we could not hear it at all! I told him we just missed a call and turned the radio up so we could hear it.
As we neared Craig airspace, we attempted to get the ATIS broadcast, but now, we really couldn't hear anything. Justin had jiggled his headset jacks and I think he may have caused a brief short in the radios--just enough to make the intercom need a reset. The volume was up, but there was no sound from either radio. It is unlikely that both COM radios would die at the same time, so we suspected the intercom. Justin killed the avionics power for a few minutes and when the power was turned back on, a very loud ATIS broadcast filled our ears.
We contacted Craig tower and they had heard from Jax approach that we were having radio difficulty, so they cleared us to land on runway 23. Justin gave me vectors to bring me into the pattern as I still had the hood on. As we got to certain points, he told me to descend to such and such an altitude. I know that the Minimum Descent Altitude for the instrument approaches to CRG is 241 (200AGL), so when he advised me to go below this altitude, I asked him if he wanted me to go visual. I had been looking only at the instruments the whole time - so I was totally relying on his vectors. As we reached 100 AGL, he advised me to go visual and there was the runway straight ahead--and we were almost over the threshold. I put in the last notch of flaps and pulled the power smoothly to idle and let the last bit of speed float off. The touchdown was fairly smooth and I braked fairly hard to enable us to exit the runway by Bravo-4 - which would take us right to Sky Harbor.
All told 1.2 hours flight time with 1.0 simulated instrument.
What did I learn? NEVER TURN THE VOLUME DOWN ON THE RADIOS. Keep my hand on the throttle during takeoff. Use my friggin' checklists. Level flight: Primary for Pitch=Altimeter, Primary for Bank=Heading Indicator, Primary for Power=Tachometer. Cross-check Pitch and bank with the AI. During vacuum failure primary for pitch is still the altimeter, primary for bank becomes the turn coordinator and tach still reports on power.
I had a ground lesson mid-week and Justin mentioned that the plane had some leaks and his jack was wet. He also told me that while sitting in the plane waiting for a rain shower to pass, he noticed quite a bit of water entering the interior. Since we had been flying in damp weather, we probably had a water-related short that caused our radio problem.