Instrument Lesson 3 – Working Hard

Yesterday’s lesson included several new tasks. I was pushed well beyond my, admittedly still pretty low, workload limit during this one. It was hard work but a very good lesson.

As before, I filed IFR to the Kenosha airport, did the preflight – including a VOR check, got the ATIS and our clearance and taxied to runway 5 – checking the turning instruments along the way. I did the runup and the radio setup before letting the tower know we were ready to go. We were cleared for takeoff and a right turn to 090. Tower handed us off to departure while I was still turning and we were in radar contact. Chicago took longer than usual to turn us north so we were a couple miles out over the lake by the time we were handed off to Milwaukee. Approach initially cleared us up to 4000 feet but amend our clearance to 3000 just about the time I got to that altitude. I leveled off and a couple minutes later Pete took the controls and canceled IFR while I put on the foggles. I took over again, turned west and climbed to 4000 to get above Kenosha’s airspace. The couple minutes after I got to the new altitude were the only easy straight and level I would fly for the rest of the lesson.

Pete had me start with a 360 degree standard rate turn in each direction. Then a climbing turn up to 5000 feet. Next, he told me to take off the glasses and do a steep turn each way. That went OK so I put the foggles back on and tried steep turns on the gauges. Those were much harder than I expected. I really had to speed up my scan to keep track of the rapidly changing dials. I still lost a couple hundred feet on the first turns and missed my headings by about 10 degrees too. The next two went better but I was still losing a hundred feet or so during each 360 degrees. Finally, on the last one, I managed to end up close 5000 but it was certainly nothing resembling a level turn. I would be 100 feet low then over compensate so I was 100 feet high then 70 feet low and back to 100 feet high. A real roller coaster ride for Pete. Steep turns are going to take more practice.

After the turns, Pete told me all I had to do for the next 5 or 6 minutes was too stay at 5000 feet and headed west. I though he was giving me a rest but I was wrong. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his hand moving to the throttle and suddenly the engine was at idle. I held back pressure to maintain altitude as the speed bled off. Pete added flaps and soon the stall horn was blaring. Just before the stall, he pushed the power all the way back in and I lowered the nose to compensate. The flaps came back up and the speed kept increasing to the yellow arc. From then on, he kept reducing and adding power while I did my best to keep us level. This exercise went well as I never got more than 50 feet off my assigned altitude and held heading almost exactly.

With the power back at cruise setting, Pete reached over and slapped a couple of those nasty suction cup thingies over the attitude and heading indicators. I hadn’t expected to be doing partial panel just yet and my ability to stay straight and level immediately took a nose dive. I eventually got the airplane under better control and managed to hold it approximately wings level at least. Then Pete had me add the clock to the scan and make some timed 180 degree turns, partial panel. The first couple roll outs were off by 20 degrees or more but the last one was within 5 degrees of east. There may be hope that I can figure this out after all!

I felt much better when I finally got my “failed” instruments back but Pete took care of that by adding the radios to the mix. He had me tune the Northbrook VOR and fly directly to it. I got it dialed in OK and rotated the OBS to show my heading to the VOR. I made the turn, re-centered the OBS and started tracking inbound. It didn’t take long for everything to fall apart though. I just couldn’t keep the needle centered. For some reason, I was turning the wrong way every time. Pete chalked it up to being overloaded and tired after all we had done already. Radio navigation is not really a part of this phase of my training but Pete had wanted to introduce it. I will be doing much more of it in lessons to come.

Next, Pete had me tune the Waukegan localizer on both nav radios and set the ATIS and tower into com 1. Runway 5 was still in use but, as in the previous flights, Pete vectored me for the ILS approach to runway 23. This time I kept the foggles on until we were established on the approach then took them off so I could watch the relationship of the airplane to the runway and compare it to what the needles were showing. We continued down to 1300 feet then broke off to circle for runway 5. As we were entering the downwind, the controller told the Diamond doing touch and goes in front of us to watch out for a coyote on the runway. The critter was toward departure end so was not a factor for us. We didn’t even see him. As we secured the airplane, the fatigue came over me. This had been an exhausting lesson but I learned a lot from it.

One other thing happened during this lesson that I didn’t even know about until I updated my online logbook.  An hour into the flight, I reached my 200th hour of flight time – with many more hours to come.

  • rusty wrycza says:

    suddenly; landings seem ‘easy’ vs. getting (back?) to the airport …
    I need to get back under the hood – took a trip over the not-so-big pond (lake Michigan) and fully understood why JFK Jr. became disoriented, thankfully some IFR hood time placed faith in my instruments

  • Gary says:

    Made me tired just reading it all….I need to knock off some rust then get my check ride scheduled. I haven’t done partial panel in ages, that is top of the list. At leat I’m back flying so that will start the ball rolling again.

    Keep up the good work, it seems so hard at times and it gets overwhelming too but it’s ALL worth it.

  • ><(({°> says:

    This is great reading this stuff – I start my instrument lessons on Wednesday, and now I have a few new things to practice on M$ FSX beforehand! definitely going to try the timed turns and partial panel stuff.

    Thanks again for posting these lessons – keep them coming!

  • Jeffrey says:

    The hardest thing for new instrument pilots is to totally rely on the instruments. You have to forget about the outside and don’t even think about using your peripheral vision. The few times I’ve gotten vertigo is when I tried to use my peripheral vision. Imagine that you are sitting in a classroom, in a chair looking at some instruments. Doesn’t it seem like a waste to fly but not get to look outside? It’s all for a good cause.

    Keep up the good work!

    Jeffrey

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