January 13, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
A pilot and his instrument flight instructor are sitting at a booth in Scud’s Diner, debriefing and re-caffeinating after an instrument proficiency flight in the pilot’s Beech Bonanza.
We are one booth away, eavesdropping.
“You did a good job in preflight, and interpreting the weather,” the CFII is saying. “Good work translating that weather info from last week’s storm. Obviously you could visualize the big picture. Not everyone can explain at a glance what ‘FZRAB13FZDZB32E45’ means.”
The pilot basks in the compliment, and then frowns. “That partial-panel air work today had me in a sweat,” he says. “I’d forgotten how much drag there is making even shallow turns at MCA. Without the attitude indicator, I started feeling a little bit of vertigo.”
Good to remember if you’re ever caught in that FZDZ, the CFII replies. The review continues. Filing the round-robin flight plan and copying the clearance goes well. So does departure, communications, and navigation.
“You tuned and identified all the navs,” he says. “I thought I might trip you up tuning in the Gardner VOR on 110.6 MHz instead of Madison VOR on 110.4, but you caught it.”
“That was mean,” says the pilot. “Let’s review the approaches. What did I do wrong on that procedure turn during the VOR-A approach to Danbury?”
“You were fine until you were flying the 186-degree leg of the course reversal,” the CFII says. “But then, instead of turning right to 006 degrees as published, you turned left … or started to.”
“But you didn’t get rattled,” the CFII says. “When we missed, you made a nice transition to holding. You were a blur of motion when ATC cleared you to ANDLE intersection!”
“Coming back here, you got busy and missed a new altimeter setting,” he says. “Twenty feet can make a big difference in the stuff. On that last ILS to Waterbury-Oxford, I would have liked to see you time inbound from the final approach fix, in case of glideslope failure…
“…Also, like many pilots, you wait until the last minute to drop gear and slow down,” he says. “Consider slowing up earlier and when holding, too. Saves gas, and maybe avoids landing wheels-up some day.”
The pilot nodded and says, “Just one more question. Will you be signing me off?”
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Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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