Rusty IFR Pilot Refresher


I think attending safety seminars is the best way to stay sharp, learn new things, review things long forgotten and keep informed on things related to GA. There are also a great venue to meet other pilots and make new friends. When living in California, there was no dearth of safety seminars I could attend. Since moving east, this has been incredibly challenging, that I haven’t been able to attend a single in person safety seminar so far.

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Every few months, my flight school hosts pilot refresher courses. This year, I decided to attend both the Rusty Pilot Refresher as well as the Rusty IFR Pilot Refresher. Since doing my Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) back in California in 2009, this was the first IFR refresher course I had attended. I attended this a few months ago, but recently came across my notes.

Staying instrument current was easy, initially after I got my instrument rating. There were several of us who got the rating together and we were all active pilots, making those $100 hamburger runs, so it was easy to stay current. Once I moved out of the area, it was getting more and more difficult to fly regularly as well as to stay instrument current.

To be instrument current, FAR 61.57 requires that within the past 6 months the pilot should have executed in a flight simulator or flight training device:

  1. at least 6 instrument approaches
  2. holding procedures
  3. intercepting and tracking courses using navigation systems

If more than 12 months elapse, then an IPC conducted by an approved examiner, check pilot,  or instructor is needed.

A few key takeaways from the refresher were:

  • Need to check GPS NOTAMs if planning to use GPS for IFR flight. Flight Service Stations (FSS) don’t give these during pre-flight briefing. Have to ask specifically. Or can use a website such as raimcheck.com for GPS outtages.
  • An IPC also requires circling approaches
  • Aviation Training Device (ATD) approaches are only valid for 2 months. Do 5 in ATD and one in an a/c to be valid for 6 months. This was a new one to me.
  • If there is no departure procedure (DP), must climb to 400ft before turning and must climb at least 2000ft/nm
  • 1-888-766-8267 can be used for IFR clearances or to close flight plans anywhere in the US
  • After setting altimeter, altitude should be within 75ft of field elevation
  • Minimum en route altitude (MEA) with G suffix is the GPS MEA in en route charts. Usually same as MOCA
  • A trick to stay on the glideslope: rate of descent = add a zero to 1/2 the approach speed. For e.g. if approach speed is 90 knots use 450 ft/min.

I am writing this as yet again, weather doesn’t cooperate for some beautiful fall flying up north to Niagara Falls. I even got IFR current last weekend, and hoped to fly IFR to KIAG tomorrow.  But third year in a row, we had to cancel. With a storm system hovering over the Mid-Atlantic likely most of the weekend, it is expected to be poor weather with rain and low visibility conditions. Unlike Falling Water, we are definitely not driving it! Although I have driven there a few times!

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It has been dreary all week. Have a good weekend y’all 🙂

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