Monday, August 24, 2015

A Friend, Fido & Flight Instructor Flight

Chelle & Turbo
Sunday was the perfect day for a flight, the weather was sunny, clear, and smooth. But it wasn't allowed to be all fun, it had been 60 days since my last IFR flight and time to get refreshed again. Previously, the localizer wasn't working in the Cessna and had since been checked. It was time to see if it was finally working properly and to take up a very good friend, Chelle, for her first flight in a small airplane!

Turbo strutting his stuff
Chelle and I arrived to the airport early to take some promo photos for the Turbo the Flying Dog series. There is a new product coming out (more on that tomorrow) that we needed a few shots of. After taking some photos of Turbo and me, it was time for Chelle to get in front of the lens to commemorate her first Cessna flight. Soon my instructor, JJ, pulled up and I ran Chelle through the basics of a pre-flight.

We departed off of 23 and circled around Frederick and came back in for a practice ILS approach. I did surprisingly well with it being so long since my last instrument approach! I even got a "great job!" from Chelle who was surprised at how pilots can find a runway with foggles on. The only thing that frustrated me about this was JJ gave me vectors the whole time. It's easy to follow orders, but I wanted to try it without any vectors, all on my own guidance of following the approach plate.
Trying to imagine such a life

But first, some fun. JJ is a corporate pilot and we headed over to another airport to take a tour of some big fancy planes. Despite JJ quizzing me all the way on final and to touchdown, I made a great landing. Those sneaky CFIs and their distractions! We hopped out of the plane and stretched our legs while looking at some jets and going over the ILS procedure before heading back to FDK again.

Unfortunately the localizer decided to stop working on the way back for the ILS 23 into Frederick again. This would have been a dangerous situation under actual instrument conditions as I didn't notice the problem at first (even with the red flag on the instrument telling me something was obviously wrong). I was trying to get back localizer and was confused as to why it wasn't matching with instrument below it which was dialed into the same ILS. We thought it might be a problem with the strength of the receiver as it started to work when we got close to the airport. We cheered...then it failed on us again. 

Making the Cessna look bad
At first, I didn't think I got much education out of that final approach due to the distractions and faulty equipment, but I did, just not what I originally had wanted. Here are three things I learned:

1. The first thing we learn in instrument training is when under the hood or in actual we must trust our instruments, not what we feel. But this trust cannot be blind. When an instrument is doing something that definitely does not seem right, something may be wrong with it.
2. Some instruments, like the CDI, have hints to tell you when something is wrong! There was a red flag there telling me something was wrong, but I was so focused on centering the needles that I didn't notice it until much later.
3. What if I wasn't safe? That's a good question to ask in situations like these. What if I didn't have a CFI with me and was in actual instrument conditions? I should have gone missed and chosen a new approach. 

It's like I'm practically getting my instrument ticket all over again, not just a proficiency check. But that's why I'm a pilot. I'm not flying for a living. I'm flying because I enjoy the challenge and a good pilot is always learning!

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