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IFR Fix: One hour to burn

Remember that raffle you signed up for at the FBO’s holiday party? The prize was a free hour of instrument proficiency training in the company’s new aircraft, with their new instructor.

You never win contests, so you never gave it a thought. Now, however, there’s an email notifying you that you are the winner of the raffle and to expect a call from the flight training department to schedule your flight. They offer to let you pick what you want to work on during your proficiency session, or the flight instructor can provide a basic refresher if it has been a while.

What would you choose to work on if offered a complimentary hour to tackle the IFR proficiency challenge of your choice?

You poll your pilot friends for ideas.

“Holds, holds… and more holds,” one says almost immediately.

“Anything, under actual instrument meteorological conditions,” suggests another.

You can guess what the instructor from your initial IFR training days would scheme up: You’d spend half the time performing maneuvers and slow flight under simulated instrument conditions—full and partial panel—followed by a full non-precision approach to minimums. That would be followed by a non-published missed approach that you would have to copy on the fly. Then you’d fly a gloriously easy (by comparison) vectored ILS for a fabulously feel-good finish.

The FBO’s CFII calls to discuss the lesson plan, and starts off with a curious question: “Do you plan to be flying in five years?”

When you say you do, the conversation morphs into a briefing on NextGen and its cornerstone post-radar technology, ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast), which the CFII suggests you read up on because it will be mandatory wherever a transponder is currently required on Jan. 1, 2020.

Speaking of NextGen, the CFII says, look over the local GPS approaches. There are about 3,424 new procedures out there now, and there’s a website you can visit that simulates LPV approaches.

“Do you know what LPV stands for?”

Before you can answer obliquely that you have heard the term, the CFII continues, “It means localizer performance with vertical guidance, and it is made available by WAAS. Do you know what WAAS is?”

You knew that one: WAAS is the Wide Area Augmentation System.

So much to do! This flight is starting to sound like fun—a win-win proposition.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: IFR, Technique, Navigation

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