Monday, December 19, 2005

Good News, Bad News

Well, it's not quite along the lines of John's latest post involving the old "good news, bad news" conundrum, but here goes.

Saturday's Angel Flight was cancelled. The pilot of the third leg pulled out and donated some miles in exchange for a ticket on Southwest for the patient. That inspired a change of plans for all, because those miles were able to get her a ticket the whole way home from Cleveland. Which was great, because the home base runway might have been useable for departure, but not for landing (1/2 inch of ice; poor to nil braking action).

Sunday involved quite a workout. Runway conditions having improved, the IFR Pilot scheduled with a new instructor, JD, to get an instrument refresher flight (and to check out possible instructors for the commercial.) JP tagged along in the backseat, and was pretty mellow acting as the peanut gallery.

The instructor started up with ground school questions before we could even get 78S turned around on the iced-up hangar ramp. Stumped the IFR Pilot with "When are you established on an approach?" Correct answer - needle movement on an ILS, +/- 2 dots on a VOR approach. Yeah, I knew that. Really, I did. I swear.

Shortly after takeoff, we flew into some low visibility conditions with blowing snow. A local IFR clearance (a/k/a pop-up clearance) ensued so that we could make some approaches: VOR-A into 29G, ILS 23 at CAK, LOC 25 at AKR, and VOR 28 into BJJ. JD's overall assessment was that I was still allowed to refer to myself at the IFR Pilot.

Recap: The LOC approach was flawless. ("Like a coupled approach in an airliner," was JD's professional assessment.) The ILS was acceptable. The two VOR approaches were, in my estimation, marginal, though JD said I'd still pass the IFR checkride. Going into 29G, the needle almost went full scale. Going into BJJ, the IFR Pilot had set the OBS wrong by 20 degrees. We could tell by the GPS that we had blown through the final approach course, which was confirmed when ATC advised us of such and gave us a vector to reintercept. "That mistake will get you killed," JD sagely advised. No kidding.

At one point, JP was kind enough to hand me the reminder note from his training with JD: "Have you identified the navaid?" You can guess what was happening to prompt that.

After the final approach and a steep descent to land at BJJ, a bit of marginal VFR flying got us back to home base in one piece. A nice landing ensued. All that remained was to write a check to JD for the 1.7 hour workout.

Putting 78S away required a bit of pushing, shoving, and grunting. Too much ice on the hangar ramp. JP and I managed to get her in the hangar without damaging anything.

Stay tuned - JP, M, and the IFR Pilot are heading here for multi-engine training in January. Clearly, this will produce multiple entries bound to keep y'all glued to your CRTs.

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