Instrument Approaches — Flying Summers Brothers

There is the old saw about getting your Private Pilot certificate, that it “is a ticket to learn,” meaning that you’ve just gotten the little slip of paper that lets you learn to be a better pilot. I totally buy that. I didn’t count on forgetting some of the things I learned, though. To get […]

via Instrument Approaches — Flying Summers Brothers

IFR & Night Current… Hurrah!

So…. I flew last weekend..

Believe it or not, after switching not once, but twice…

It seems my flight school doesn’t believe that I am capable of flying a C172 M, even though I have the most hours in C172, got checked out, not just in C172G1000 , but also the C172 M in the past, just, did not submit a form for that aircraft type, since they didn’t ask?

Which by the way, they let me fly that day… Considering that more than half my total flight time is in C172, and that is the only aircraft I am checked out in and fly quite frequently, at my current flight school, how crazy is that? Maybe one day in the future people will get past this foolishness, and ridiculous checkouts?

But, fortunately, a C172S was available and they did not have a problem to let me fly that!

So we set off in relatively calm weather, but on a busy Sunday afternoon, for some practice approaches. I had tentatively thought I might have to do some simulated approaches before the upcoming big Bahamas trip, but as luck would have it, the relatively mild weather meant, I could do some practice approaches with a safety pilot. That with the night time I snagged last month means I am now officially both night and IFR current!

Too bad….I had planned to shoot some practice LPV approaches which the C172M was capable off… But had to resort to the typical GPS, ILS and VOR type approaches possible by the typical GPS equipped C172S I got to fly.

Maybe I should be happy I got to fly at all..

Either way, happy that I am well equipped for my upcoming Bahamas Bash!

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.


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 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!


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