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IFR Fix: A real KLUTZ

IFR Fix | 2012, 12 17

Today's routing takes you all the way to KLUTZ intersection, the initial approach fix for the LOC RWY 7 approach to the Westerly, R.I., airport. The clearance reminds you that you'd better review the IAP, because now it will be necessary to fly the full approach.

IFR Fix: That was close

IFR Fix | 2012, 12 10

Between the worsening turbulence and the reprimand from air traffic control for a blown altitude, your demeanor is rapidly decaying from merely harried to flustered and defensive.

IFR Fix: The 200-knot gust

IFR Fix | 2012, 11 30

New Hampshire's Mount Washington can be, as the observatory there states, "the home of the world's worst weather."

IFR Fix: TONYA's test

IFR Fix | 2012, 11 21

Darkness has fallen as the light twin prepares for the NDB Rwy 20 approach at northern Massachusetts' Fitchburg Municipal Airport, which sits beneath a 1,500-foot overcast with two miles visibility.

IFR Fix: Circle game

IFR Fix | 2012, 11 16

What's the most important altitude depicted on an instrument approach plate?

IFR Fix: Where's WUTUG?

IFR Fix | 2012, 11 12

Are you up on changes to the regulations and procedures? If you are accustomed to flying the VOR/DME RWY 33 approach to Worcester Regional Airport in Massachusetts via the Putnam VOR 034-degree radial to WUTUG, a clearance to SQUEL might strike you as erroneous.

IFR Fix: Waiting for WEEGI

IFR Fix | 2012, 11 02

Today's instrument proficiency check promises to be invigorating - just what you need after a prolonged absence - with an ILS, VOR, and NDB approach. That NDB approach might prove trickier than you first thought.

IFR Fix: Ice like a brick

IFR Fix | 2012, 10 19

When someone survives an icing encounter, the person may describe ice "as large as a house brick on the leading edge, extending back on the wing for one foot."

IFR Fix: 'Do not mistake'

IFR Fix | 2012, 10 15

Nothing beats touching down on a long runway that appears dead ahead at the end of a close instrument approach ... unless it's the wrong airport.

IFR Fix: No alternate needed

IFR Fix | 2012, 10 09

It was to be a routine flight, destination Las Vegas, where the weather was VFR, if somewhat windy. But multiple microburst alerts caused the aircraft to divert to another airport and declare an emergency.

IFR Fix: Steeper than you think

IFR Fix | 2012, 09 22

Steep turns are exhilarating, physical, and instructive. In real-world instrument flying, "steep" has a very different meaning. But the maneuver may prove its worth at the most critical time.

IFR Fix: How is your Morse code?

IFR Fix | 2012, 08 31

Don't take a gambler's shortcut when it comes to identifying a navaid based on its Morse code.

IFR Fix: Only partially prepared

IFR Fix | 2012, 08 24

A conventional vacuum-driven artificial horizon has its miniature aircraft's nose on the horizon, and the right wing slightly low. The directional gyro disagrees--its facial motion suggesting a left turn. The tiebreaking turn coordinator maintains a stoic, wings-level neutrality. Three bank instruments, three indications. Which to believe?

IFR Fix: The WEF and the WIE

IFR Fix | 2012, 08 17

There must be a natural law to make sure that if someone writes an IFR training column discussing how to use a VOR cross-radial to nail down an instrument approach fix, a notice to airmen will pop up the next day placing that VOR out of service. That happened right here about three weeks ago. Here's hoping the notam didn't spoil anybody's practice flight.

IFR Fix: 'What's that down there?'

IFR Fix | 2012, 08 10

Established toward the fix, an instrument pilot descends, levels off, and reviews the procedure's next (and final) leg. So when he checks his progress toward the fix, he is surprised to observe that the CDI remains one dot out. Then the instrument instructor points out the airport below.

YouTube accident pilot: ‘I was going to abort’

IFR Fix | 2012, 08 10

The June 30 crash of a Stinson 108-3 in Stanley, Idaho, has been viewed--from an inside-the-cockpit perspective--a million times since one of the passengers posted video on Aug. 4. Pilot Les Gropp, who suffered a broken jaw (his passengers walked away), said a gust of wind lifted him into the air as he was about to abort the ill-fated takeoff.

IFR Fix: Dangerous game

IFR Fix | 2012, 08 03

With heartbreaking regularity, VFR pilots, often flying high-performance aircraft, continue to tangle with instrument weather despite odds that never improve for that dangerous game. Whether the result is a graveyard spiral from spatial disorientation, or colliding with terrain in a bid to escape weather, pilots keep trying, often with passengers.

IFR Fix: Checkup to Chester

IFR Fix | 2012, 07 27

What's the reciprocal of 235 degrees? What's the short-field landing procedure for the aircraft you usually fly IFR? All of that's relevant today because you are taking a proficiency flight to the serene country airfield in Chester, Conn.

IFR Fix: 'Would you like a lower altitude?'

IFR Fix | 2012, 07 13

Many pilots fly at their highest altitudes under IFR, necessitated by minimum en route altitudes delivering at least 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance (2,000 feet in designated mountainous areas), or motivated by the desire to top clouds or catch tailwinds.

IFR Fix: Worth a thousand words

IFR Fix | 2012, 07 06

As a dejected VFR pilot looks on, an instrument pilot walks toward an unseen aircraft, eyes on the sky. What the VFR fellow may not realize is that the other pilot may have agonized just as long and hard as he often does about whether to launch into this curious collection of clouds.

IFR Fix: What's 'visual'?

IFR Fix | 2012, 06 25

All it take is a cross-channeled radio to blockade the airspace and breed bedlam. On any IFR flight in moderate weather, pilots face the decision: Cancel aloft, possibly speeding up the arrival, or remain on the IFR flight plan to touchdown.

IFR Fix: What's 'actual'?

IFR Fix | 2012, 06 18

A pilot turns to the current page of his logbook to enter the day's data after a two-hour, 30-minute IFR flight. How much actual instrument time should he log?

IFR Fix: Sigmet surprise

IFR Fix | 2012, 06 11

You hesitate to cut off your friends' chatter as a short radio call (a Center Weather Advisory) comes and goes. Whatever. You'll have to try to catch up with that radio call at some point. But it's getting bumpy--and surprise, it's raining! Your right-seat passenger is dying to ask you what a "convective sigmet" is, but refrains because you appear preoccupied.

IFR Fix: The Casanova overshoot

IFR Fix | 2012, 05 25

Of all the ways an IFR flight can get off to a rocky start, hearing air traffic control ask where you think you're going must be one of the most painful.

IFR Fix: Power and forgiveness

IFR Fix | 2012, 05 18

You have an instrument rating, and now, a distant destination. Time to book your old IFR trainer for a new kind of outing. Wait - here's a better idea. It's time to start flying aircraft designed with long-distance travel in mind.