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.
Here’s a day when the safety of flight is never in doubt. However, the future of your pilot certificate could be if you make the wrong decision. Is there a way to save time and help another pilot, or are you captive to the whims of regulation and a controller’s limited access to weather information?
Every airport with a published instrument approach has been surveyed for an instrument departure. One might assume that means entering the clouds after takeoff is a viable option. What will you do when you discover the published departure for IFR requires visual conditions far better than the current cloud decks?
Instrument pilots should assume the approach will end in a missed approach until a landing is assured. At the same time, all pilots should conduct a go-around—even into the flare—if the landing goes poorly. So what happens when your go-around requires a missed approach that should have started two miles behind you?
It’s been a brutal flight. Every smart move to evade the ice, and then the turbulence, worked at first and then fell apart. You make the smart move to divert, only to find the weather relents on final approach. Now you’re on the ground wondering if one more “smart” move would bring victory or catastrophe.
The brand-new GPS with its full-color moving map should make RNAV approaches a piece of cake. This time when ATC clears you for the approach, the hi-res display shows you three different options for the course to join—and ATC is no help. Which one is the right approach course to join? Does it matter?