Sunday, November 2, 2008

Instrument Checkride- Flight

Part Two of my checkride... Be forewarned-- this is lengthy!

I filed for OKV as we had discussed, then met the Designated Examiner (DE) out at the plane. The plane had been fueled since I last preflighted, so I did a quick fuel sump and checked the amount in each tank. I also did a brief walk around since I’d been inside for over an hour. Then we strapped in to go flying. Luckily, he was more talkative than the Chief in the plane (it doesn’t take much), which helped with some of my nerves. I got our clearance and departed without issue, though Clearance did ask us to make an immediate right turn on course—and stay within 1 mile of the airport until on course. It was kind of fun to make a 30 degree turn as soon as I was about 400 feet off the ground.

Once on course, I contacted Approach and put on the foggles, though I suspected that we might actually brush a few clouds. Approach told us to expect vectors, but then sent us direct to Cladd. I followed their instructions and started to brief the ILS-32 approach. (I use the A-MICE-ATM acronym.) When I got to E for entry, though, I had a quandary. Did I need a procedure turn or not? I didn’t want to screw this up—and risk failing on the very first task! I studied the plate, hoping to find the answer. Ah-hah! NoPT (no procedure turn) required if on the XXX heading from JASEN. We were on that heading… so I surmised no procedure turn required. Later, an instructor at the flight school reminded me that anytime a controller tells you to go direct to a point on the approach, if it’s not the initial approach fix (IAF), then that counts as vectors, and no PT is required. Okay, right answer, wrong thought process. All that thinking was for naught, however, as ATC turned us away from CLADD before we arrived.

We were then vectored around a few times. I think we were in and out of the clouds at this point as I asked the DE about some traffic I saw on the TIS and he responded he couldn’t see them because of the clouds. ATC finally vectored us onto the approach—1 mile outside of the final approach fix, at 3300 feet (I should have been at around 2200 feet). Adding to the confusion—a traffic target showed up without altitude information, so though I thought we were going to cross paths, I didn’t know if they were anywhere close to our altitude). Hmmm. Let’s think about this. I’m 1100 feet higher than I should be, finally intercepting the localizer, but way above glide slope. Not a good thing. In fact, it felt so out of whack that I double checked the approach plate to make sure I was reading it correctly. Yup. I told ATC we’d cancel IFR with them and slowly pulled the power to idle, and trimmed the plane for 90 kts. I thought about dumping in a second notch of flaps and slowing to 85 kts, but I didn’t want to risk busting PTS, so I held 90. Of course, that close in, I never did intercept the glide slope. Oh- and because of the vectoring, I didn’t get the GPS to recognize where I was once I intercepted the localizer. So I used the moving map on the MFD to estimate where the MAP was, and went missed, still well above the glide slope. DE made a comment something like, “Well, ATC really screwed you up on that one.” Then he gave me vectors to follow, so I figured I hadn’t failed!

After going missed, we climbed pretty much straight out and DE gave me a few vectors to follow. Then he asked me to load the VOR-A approach back into OKV. After that, he had me dim my screen all the way down and asked me to hold my altitude and airspeed and do a compass turn. Goodness, I haven’t done one of those since the beginning of my IFR training- a year ago! Ack! But I figured that I could just give it a go. I got myself oriented and stable with my standby instruments, and then began my turn. I used a combination of my compass, the moving map on the MFD, and my standby instruments
(airspeed, attitude, and altimeter) to gauge how my turn was coming. During the oral, we had talked about compass errors, so I tried to use everything together to guide me. When I had gone most of the way around, he told me to roll out and hold a given heading. Then he asked me to enter the hold and fly the VOR-A approach. I wasn’t sure what to say—how can you fly a VOR approach without a VOR (I only have VOR on my PFD—there’s no backup for that). I asked how I could fly a VOR approach on partial panel? He just repeated that I could fly “this” approach. Finally, I looked down at the plate, and realized that it was the VOR-A/GPS-A approach! Suddenly it became more clear. So, I quickly briefed the approach and began to fly it. On going missed, he gave me back my screens, and after vectoring me around a bit asked me to fly another hold, this time with all my tools. I did, and then he told me to set up for the GPS-17 approach into JYO.

Determined to make the last approach go well, I began to get the weather and set up for the approach. I told him I was going to go ahead and enter the JYO transponder code so that I wouldn’t accidentally forget to do it at the last minute, and that I would still do a double-check as we got closer. He really liked that. At the same time, I wondered if we were going to do unusual attitudes and steep turns. On the one hand, I didn’t want to remind him, on the other, I didn’t want him to suddenly remember later on and make the approach more difficult. So I asked if we were going to do unusual attitudes. He looked at me, a little startled, and said, “Oh, yeah. We should do those! I have the controls and put your head down.” So we did two quick and relatively easy unusual attitudes. Then, it was back to the approach. I quickly programmed it in, briefed it, and then started flying it.

At this point, I realized that he was sitting up a little straighter, so I started trying to figure out why. I checked all my instruments—and everything seemed ok. Then he asked me to go ahead and descend down a few hundred feet, even though we weren’t supposed to descend again till after the next fix. I realized that we were likely skimming along just under the cloud layer. He gave me a few deviations right and left by 10 degrees or so. I could see on the moving map that we were still west of the ridge. I could now see little bits of white in the reaches of my peripheral vision (I wasn’t trying to cheat—but my head is small, so I can usually see a little more than I should be able to!) so I offered that we could descend more after the first ridge as the second one is a little lower. He liked that, and told me to descend down another 200 feet. I responded with the altitude I’d descend to and told him that I would then hold that altitude until we caught up with the altitudes on the approach plate. He seemed to like that.

After that last drop, things seemed to clear out and he relaxed a bit more (and so did I!). I then just focused on my descents, keeping track of our progress, and making position reports on CTAF. The winds had shifted such that it clearly made sense to land straight in on 17. Well out from the runway, he called field in sight, and I pushed my foggles up on top of my head and began final preparations for landing. I managed a pretty decent landing, and we taxied off. He then basically told me that unless I did something really stupid on the taxi-back, I had passed! Woo-hoo!

As we parked the airplane and got our stuff together, he told me that I had flown very well—not perfectly, but that no one flies perfectly. Whew. What a relief! He helped me push back, and then left me to finish caring for the plane. I then met him again in the office to complete the final paperwork. I could tell the instructors in the office were dying to know the outcome. Finally, one of them came over and whispered, “Can I put your picture on the wall?!” –we have a wall of pictures of new student pilots, new pilots, etc. The Chief had taken my picture the night before in preparation for this. So I said with a big smile, “Yup! You sure can!” Then I started getting congratulations from all around! I was an instrument pilot!

1 comment:

Gary said...

Again, CONGRATS!!!!!

Thanks for posting your write up, helps us folks trying to accomplish the same.

If I ever get scheduled and I beat the plane going into annual turkey day week, I may complete this rating.