Common wisdom says that flying a constant-descent approach on a glidepath results in a safer, more stable approach than the old “dive-and-drive.” But what do you do when that technique is almost certain to result in a missed approach—while the old-school method will likely reveal a runway you can land on?
A new safety device surprises you when it alarms on the first flight. Is this a real emergency, an abnormal situation to watch, or actually normal behavior for your airplane? Is the sensor even working correctly? If this were simple VFR, you could make an easy return. But you’re in the clouds and climbing.
Weather and alternate airport options required calculating your fuel down to the minute. Now you’re airborne and your destination is a weak bet at best. If you swing and miss, you’ll have a choice between a legal option that’s no sure thing and a safe one that’s on the wrong side of the regs.
Every pilot wishes there was a crystal ball revealing the exact weather three days into the future. It’s even more stressful when constraints like airline schedules and other pilots using an airplane reduce your flexibility. How will you use the tools at hand to predict flight conditions when your choice has repercussions for other people?
The best thing about personal minimums is that they remove subjectivity. This removes the temptation to “just take a look” or “try it once more.” But what happens when that absolute is challenged by something you never expected—and maybe shouldn’t even count? Is that a valid reason to make an exception?
The bad news: Your simple IFR flight in a capable airplane just became a crisis IFR descent in a terrible glider. The good news: You have choices within gliding range. The decision: Which airport and technique gets you to the pavement in one piece? Don’t dally. Altitude and options diminish with each passing minute.
Much of our IFR flying happens in the fuzzy world of instrument rules in visual conditions. What happens when a pressing situation puts your instincts at odds with your clearance, especially when ATC doesn’t seem the least bit concerned? Is it OK to act first and tell ATC later, or do you need permission to […]
The whole point of instrument proficiency training is keeping yourself ready for the days when you must actually fly in the clouds. However, months—or even years—can go by where circumstances prevent flight in actual IMC. How much can you rely on simulators, videos, and other training aids to ensure a flight in real clouds won’t […]
Instrument training under sunny skies with a hood just isn’t the same as real IMC. You finally have a day that’s perfect for practice, but first you and your student must get into the system from a small, uncontrolled field. The ODP makes that connection—until your clearance throws the need for it in doubt.
Actual IMC experience is essential to confidence in the clouds. That’s why any instrument instructor worth the ticket will do what they can to get actual IMC experience for their students. But when that experience includes an icing emergency, what’s the safest way to prevent an instructional flight from turning into a tragedy?
The motto for instrument approach design might be “safety through structure.” You’re now facing an approach where the most structured option is the least likely to succeed. Is that still the best choice, or is one of three less restrictive options the best for reaching the runway without hitting the rocks?
Some failures seem so unlikely there’s no need to prepare for them. That’s fine … until they do happen. Now you’ll have to choose between powering back in hopes of better weather, trusting your memory and knowledge of systems, or trusting a technique you haven’t practiced since instrument training—if you even practiced it at all.