Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Instrument Lessons 14 & 15

This is a fairly straightforward lesson. Lesson 14 was completed in the sim and consisted of an introduction to holding patterns. Lesson 15 continued this and introduced non-standard patterns in the aircraft.

I preflighted the aircraft, found no problems, and then Justin joined me in the cockpit. He said he had filed an instrument flight plan, so we would be under ATC for the duration of the flight...or so we thought.

I called clearance delivery on the radio and announced that N84577 was ready to copy. No response. We waited and waited. So I called back - "Standby". We waited, with the engine running, for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, Justin got fed up and switched to the ground control frequency. "Craig ground, Warrior 84577 is ready to taxi. We can get the info in the run-up area." The controller responded, "taxi to 23 at foxtrot."

At least we were moving. The controller sounded like a new guy and he was making everyone wait a much longer time than usual. After we completed the run-up, we were informed that the controller could not find our flight plan. Yeah, right. Justin thought he might have filed it under our usual tail number, N512MA. So there went another 5 minutes waiting. Still no plan. Now there were two other planes waiting to depart on 23 and three planes in the pattern for that runway. Rather than wait, we called the tower and asked to be switched to 32 at Echo. That got us moving immediately, however we had about a 12 knot crosswind directly across the runway from the left. Fun, fun, fun! I like a challenge and started the roll with full aileron deflection into the wind. After rotation, the plane took forever to climb. We were only getting about 300 fpm rate of climb, but the engine we giving full power. So much of our energy was being spent to maintain the runway centerline, we didn't have much left to climb. Nevertheless, we made our altitude and turned southbound.

The lack of an instrument flight plan was no big deal...all we were going to do was hold over the CRG VOR. As long as we are above 2600' MSL, we will be clear of the Class D airspace. We departed to the south and then Justin gave me his tired foggles to block my view. He then vectored me around in various directions and then told me to hold on the 180 radial south of the CRG VOR. This required that I turn the OBS to find our radial. From our position to the SSE of the VOR, a standard entry was planned. We then made 4 or 5 circuits before we finally gauged the wind - which was pretty stiff from 220. Then as I completed an outbound leg, he instructed me to hold on the 90 radial east of the CRG VOR - non standard pattern. From my position midway through the turn, I was right on the boundary between a teardrop and a parallel entry. Since the teardrop requires fewer turns, I opted for that one. As I crossed the VOR, I turned to 120 for 1 minute, then a left turn to 270 and back to the VOR. It didn't take very long to adjust for the wind and eventually things lined up nicely.

He then vectored me to the South and we descended. We lined up on the localizer for 32 and called the tower. We were cleared for an entry to the left downwind to 23, so once I reached the dh, Justin advised me to go visual and I saw that I was pretty well lined up on 32 in spite of the severe cross winds. I made the right turn to the downwind for 23 and spotted traffic crossing the fence and another plane turning final. I was cleared to land following the traffic.

I responded "Warrior 577, cleared to land, traffic in site." The tower responded, "there are two planes ahead of you. You are following the plane on about a 1 1/2 mile final." I advised the tower, "Both aircraft are in site, 577".

Then, stabilized for the approach, I maintained 1900 rpm to keep enough forward speed to compensate for the headwind as I turned final. Approaching the threshold, I announced that I was pulling power as the runway was in glide range. I then made a very nice touchdown.

Another great day of flying! 1.3 hours Total 1.1 under the hood.

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