“Quite satisfying.” “Sweaty minutes.” “Won’t be forgotten any time soon.” These are snippets from responses our social-network followers offered when we asked instrument-rated pilots to recall their first flight as pilot in command in instrument meteorological conditions after earning the rating.
In every crowd there’s one who goes off in a different direction. We’ll save David Young’s comment for the end.
Richard Lim’s recollection was an approach into Torrance, California. “I just kept telling myself, ‘trust your instruments, don't look outside’—but of course you can't help but take a peek and marvel at the fact you are flying completely without reference to the outside world. Quite satisfying.” He broke out at 1,500 feet agl and gave ATC a cloud-deck report. Nice work.
Eddie Rose’s first PIC IFR flight with no instructor aboard “was a 30 min flight for a family event, got to my destination and it was below minimums turned around and went home without shooting a approach.” He added, “I had a great instructor who flew quite a bit of actual IFR while training, so yes I felt prepared.”
John Lagerling recalled a flight with a passenger in IMC to a nontowered field when, right before the approach, he heard, “'hold at xyz as published.’ There was no published hold on his chart or plate for the fix. What I didn’t realize is that there was a published hold on a separate approach plate that ATC was referring to. Sweaty minutes but it worked out.” An uneventful approach to minimums followed, and “I probably learned more about flying in the system on that flight than 5 prior lessons/checkride.”
“Yes, it is the best rating ever,” posted Dean Jones. “I think that your instrument rating should be included a whole lot more in your Private Pilot training, as well,” he added, urging, “Get your instrument rating!!!
Okay, David Young, you’re up: “My first approach to minimums won’t be forgotten any time soon! My first IFR flight after (being) rated was in severe clear skies!!”
Thanks to all the instrument pilots who responded.