Instrument Training


Well, I had hoped that it would be a slightly windier than yesterday as I looked out of the window when I woke this morning (September 25th, 2011). It was a nice bright sunny morning and about 60 F. I had already assumed that we probably wouldn’t be practicing the maneuvers we had planned for yesterday as I arrived for my 6th lesson with Tim. And as expected, after our usual morning greeting, Tim said, “The weather, although very nice, is the same as it was yesterday and I’ll see in the syllabus as to what we can do, while you go out and do the Walkaround. I can jump around in the syllabus in such cases where we’re unable to do something due to the weather”. I said, “Okay”, and walked out with the fuel sampler having checked in. I wondered what Tim was going to find for me to learn, but then as I reached the plane, which incidentally was in the hanger as it had just been finished with a thorough checking by the mechanics, I forgot about that and concentrated on the Walkaround.

Tim came out with the headphones for the two of us and a GPS system also. I asked him what that was and he said it was a GPS System which we might use as he had planned on teaching me instrument training. “The private pilot’s certificate requires 3 hours of instrument training”, said Tim. Then one of the linesmen came and pulled the plane out of the hanger and we boarded it and I took off into the sky eagerly anticipating what instrument training would be all about. “That was a good takeoff”, said Tim. I thanked him and felt a little pleased with myself and said, “Yes I’ve learned from my previous takeoffs”. Once we were about 3000 feet in the air, Tim said that we used instruments when we couldn’t see outside. Right now, the private pilot’s course was all about learning using VFR i.e. Visual Flight Rules. But when you qualify IFR, which can only be achieved after you’ve qualified as a private pilot (having learned VFR), you’re able to fly using the instruments on the instrument panel, hence Instrument Flight Rules. “So imagine that you can’t see anything outside, like you were in thick clouds or it’s really heavy rain,” said Tim as he presented me with a pair of Foggles. Foggles are spectacles or goggles and the top half of the lenses are opaque or fogged so you’re unable to see out of the wind shield and you can only see the instrument panel through the lower and clear half of the glasses, just like if you were in a real storm or with very poor visibility. So I put the foggles on, and was only able to see the instrument panel. The main instruments we were going to use were arranged in the “T” form on the instrument panel. These were the Turn Coordinator, Attitude Indicator (i.e. the Artificial Horizon), Heading Indicator, Airspeed Indicator and the Altimeter. These were the instruments we focused on mainly whilst we also glanced at other instruments such as the Vertical Speed Indicator et al.

“Now the aim is to set a heading and to make any small corrections quickly rather than making larger corrections later”, said Tim, and he continued, “Remember you’re now using instruments to fly, so you should keep your eyes on the instruments and any changes such as a change in the direction of the heading, drop in altitude, if the plane is banking instead of flying straight, should be made immediately. So now let’s head west and keep that heading”. It was kind of funny because when I was told to look outside when flying I used to focus on the instruments, now the reverse was true. But I tried hard to keep an eye on all the instruments and made changes quickly. There were times when I would end up banking the plane and this was clearly visible on the Turn Indicator, or the nose would slightly go up or down as indicated by the Attitude Indicator. Finally, there was something else that Tim taught me using the clock. He said something about taking a certain number of seconds to make a turn e.g. 180 degree turn, but I don’t remember, so I will write about that in my next update. Sorry about that but there is so much to remember.

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