164. Anticipation Near Anaheim

Instructors
Mark Kolber

The flight is short and the weather is decent, but the airspace is unfamiliar and one of the busiest places to fly in the U.S. Flying IFR should simplify that. You find the right route and put it into the GPS. However, a tailwind after takeoff throws an unexpected curve into your plan.

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163. Kickapoo Cancellation Complications

Instructors
Tom Haines

Chart prohibitions are there for a reason and regulations, so they say, are written in blood. That’s fine until the prohibitions and the regulations conflict with each other, and neither one seems to be an issue of safety. Do you cancel, circle, or continue under IFR to finish a flight at a basically VMC destination?

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162. Ely Departure

Instructors
Kevin Plante

One little problem at an inopportune moment is all it takes to turn a feasible plan into a snowballing emergency. Now you must evaluate the options in the little time available and commit to one at the expense of all others. How far off the standard playbook will you go to reach safety?

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161. Cleared Through Gateway

Instructors
John Krug

The National Airspace System works because hundreds of Centers, Approaches, and Control Towers coordinate traffic through their interlocking system of airspaces. When flying under VFR, you’re the lynchpin for this communication. Under IFR, it should be done for you. Sometimes, though, it’s not clear who’s responsible for handling the call. Is this one of them?

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160. Best Forward Speed

Instructors
Doug Stewart

Every instrument pilot ends up here sooner or later: You thought there was time to slow down before the go down—and it didn’t work out. Now you’re behind the eight-ball and above the V-speeds to get stuff out and slow down. Is there a sure way to fix this that’s not salvaging an already unstable […]

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159. Dummy in Duluth

Instructors
Mark Kolber

You never should have taken this flight, in this airplane, in this weather, in the first place. Next time you’ll do it differently—but now you must land soon enough to ensure there is a next time. How will you get this VFR-only airplane out of the weather when snowy approaches look like your only option?

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158. Heading Straight to Nashville?

Instructors
Elaine Kauh

It’s a perennial problem for pilots looking to gain experience, whether it’s new situations, new equipment, or entirely new sectors of aviation. And a logbook full of hours might not help. How do you decide if the challenge you’re facing is a good opportunity to expand your horizons—or an invitation to disaster?

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157. Tillamook Takeoff NA

Instructors
Bruce Williams

Departure procedures aren’t required under Part 91 unless mandated by ATC. However, it’s conventional wisdom that you should fly one when it exists. How far do you take that? Is it better to accept a questionable takeoff to fly the procedure or can you ignore it just because you deem it’s actually safer to do […]

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156. The TAA at Tillamook

Instructors
Catherine Cavagnaro

You’re the only airplane inbound and ATC has cut you loose to join the approach as you see fit. However, the more you review the approach chart the more complex it becomes. The simplest options will be the toughest to execute given the winds and descent, but the easier options might not be legit.

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155. Foggy Thinking

Instructors
Tom Haines

A delightful night flight home turns into a surprise missed approach only seconds from landing. Now back above the unforecast—and widespread—fog, you’re fat on fuel but short on options with the clock already passing midnight. You’ll have to balance between longer time in the air and making the next landing attempt a sure thing.

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154. A Quick Hop to Birmingham

Instructors
JP Dice

There’s no reasoning with a thunderstorm. It goes where it wants to and you go elsewhere to wait it out. This time the thunderstorm is right over your airport, so the question becomes: Where do you wait? Should you do as the airliners are doing for this airport or make your own plan?

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153. What’s Up in Watsonville

Instructors
Bruce Williams

You did your homework for this IMC departure. Obstacle Departure Procedure? Check. Emergency return plan? Check. Glass panel configured and ready? Check. Unfortunately, your cleared route undoes all this work and ATC says their hands are tied. Will you go with the flow or negotiate a new plan that checks the right boxes?

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152. Changing Plans at Southern Pines

Instructors
Doug Stewart

ATC’s vectors to final routinely make approaches simpler for the pilot and all controllers to move more airplanes from the sky to the runway in quick succession. The problem comes when a last-minute change requires reprogramming the avionics and another airplane closing in means there isn’t much time to get the right waypoints in the […]

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151. Who Needs an Autopilot, Anyway?

Instructors
Dave Hirschman

Upgrades are expensive, so many of us make do with a mixed panel of old and new technology. That’s fine as long as you don’t lean too heavily on equipment that’s long in the tooth. This flight pushed that limit and put you in a pickle: Press on with a problem or make a high-stakes […]

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150. Palo Alto Procedure NA

Instructors
John Krug

Sometimes the published procedure notes make no logical sense. How can an approach be forbidden under IFR when you could fly the exact same path VFR safely? Will you follow the letter of the law or trust your eyes and a PAPI—or use some other combination of techniques—to reach your destination in the dark?

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149. Capital City Confusion

Instructors
Doug Stewart

Loss of control on an approach is a terrifying thought—and you just recovered in a valley with limited visibility and no airport in sight. Is it better to climb to safety with a known issue or scud run a few hundred feet above the ground to find an airport and some terra firma?

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148. Snowfall in North Texas

Instructors
Mark Kolber

You’re cruising in clear air above potentially icy clouds with a plan to descend amid scattered clouds at your destination. However, the destination weather isn’t clearing as fast as it should. Do you stick with the plan, stretch your range to better weather, or seize a potential sucker hole that just appeared below you?

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147. Vertical Guidance Give and Take

Instructors
Bruce Williams

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?

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146. Alarm Out of Albany

Instructors
John Krug

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.

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145. Wanna Walla Walla

Instructors
Bruce Williams

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.

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144. Crystal Ball for the Windy City

Instructors
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt

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?

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143. No Second Chances

Instructors
Tom Haines

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?

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142. Stuck Selector in SoCal

Instructors
Doug Stewart

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.

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141. Deviate on Departure

Instructors
Dave Hirschman

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 […]

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140. Trusting Your Training

Instructors
Keith Smith

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 […]

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139. Which Heading Out of Harvey?

Instructors
Katrina Linder

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.

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138. It’s Only Wausau To Wautoma

Instructors
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt

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?

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137. Doubt About The Dalles

Instructors
Doug Stewart

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?

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136. Looking for a Bright Idea

Instructors
Tom Haines

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.

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135. Nice Guy in Newport

Instructors
Bruce Williams

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?

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134. Making It Up at Macon

Instructors
John Krug

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?

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133. Missed‌ ‌Below‌ ‌The‌ ‌DA‌

Instructors
Tom Turner

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?

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132. Severely Shaken by Richmond

Instructors
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt

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.

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131. Rocky Approach to Plymouth

Instructors
Kevin Plante

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?

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130. Dataless Over the Dakotas

Instructors
Tom Haines

It was a sound plan: Use your onboard datalink to avoid the widely scattered thunderstorms embedded in the clouds. But now that a dead FIS-B receiver has torpedoed that idea and stopping could mean a day on the ground. Do you struggle on top, scud run down low, or put all your faith in ATC?

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129. Baffling Options at Bend

Instructors
Bruce Williams

What will you prioritize: Chart notes that seem pointless (and are perhaps even wrong), or your personal preference for an approach procedure? Does it matter that the legal answer might be more personally hazardous? Does it matter that doing it the “right” way means an even longer flight to finish the day?

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128. A Handheld Approach

Instructors
Wally Moran

You understand that single-engine flight in the clouds requires some tolerance of risk. You only have one engine, one vacuum pump, and one alternator. That last liability is why you have some handheld navigation. So after a complete electrical failure in IMC, what combination of the iPad GPS and handheld NAV/COM will get you on […]

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127. The Walls Around Berlin

Instructors
Doug Stewart

We trust our lives to the instrument procedures created by the experts in Oklahoma City. Life is better with technology that automatically downloads new procedures as they’re published. But what do you do when an updated procedure doesn’t look quite right—and you need it to safely navigate around the rocks you can’t see?

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126. VNAV Goes AWOL

Instructors
Ryan Koch

You’re loving the upgraded avionics you use every day for work as a cargo pilot—until the GPS throws an error message you’ve never seen before. Suddenly, a successful approach is in doubt. With no time to troubleshoot and ceilings just above minimums, can you find a solution or must you give up on the mission?

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125. Wrong Way Out of Ramona

Instructors
Doug Stewart

They say the short flights can be the toughest, so this 28-mile flight across a Class B could be a headache. Doing it IFR seemed like the way to simplify the flight—until your clearance comes back with a route that’s 40 miles in the wrong direction. Will you play along, or figure out a way […]

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124. Zero Vis at Driggs

Instructors
Wally Moran

You’ve got a capable airplane and an important mission, but one small problem will make this landing a challenging one. If you can just get on the ground, you can get the problem fixed and everyone on their way. But how will you do that when you can’t see straight ahead? 

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123. Agile in Montgomery

Instructors
Tom Haines

The flight was planned in a narrow zone above the MEAs but below the icing. That zone dwindles to zero just as the destination comes in reach, but you aren’t ATC’s priority. Then a controller offers you exactly what you want. Now you must ask yourself: Is it what you need? 

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122. The Day ATC Went Zero

Instructors
John Krug

Instrument pilots train for all sorts of failures: communication, navigation, instrumentation, and even propulsion. But what about a failure of the entire ATC system for your sector? It doesn’t matter how cutting edge your navigation equipment might be if air traffic rules from 1951 keep you flying in circles unable to reach your destination.

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121. No VORs Today

Instructors
Bruce Williams

You have somewhere to be, and one lousy antenna just broke on your airplane. What’s even more annoying is that you never use that system anyway. Is it reasonable to make this flight IFR? What about a shorter IFR or VFR flight to fix the problem? Or, is there perhaps another solution?

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120. Rapid Return in Portland

Instructors
Ryan Koch

Whenever you depart into low IMC, you load the approach coming back in case you need a hasty return. Is a partial engine failure the time to execute that plan? Or is it so urgent, you need to reverse course and land against traffic? The plane has a parachute as well, but that presents its […]

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119. Boston Bait and Switch

Instructors
Kevin Plante

You’re keeping your speed up until final at a busy Class B airport. Then ATC throws you a curveball: a visual approach to a crossing runway. You swing a tight downwind, base and final—only to go back in the clouds. But there’s no missed approach from a visual, so what will you do?

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118. Sucked into a Thunderstorm

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

After weaving around cells all morning, it’s time to call it a day. ATC turns you toward the approach for the nearest airport—and right into a cell that was not where it showed on your NEXRAD display. Will you do an about face to get out of it, or just cross over to the other […]

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117. Poor Choices over Richfield

Instructors
Doug Stewart

With mountains below and icing above, you already have a narrow envelope for finishing this flight. Then a GPS issue leaves you with only four airports available for an approach—each of which lies in a different direction. How will you choose knowing that once you make the call you’re committed and there’s little leeway for […]

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116. Departing Under WATTR

Instructors
Bruce Williams

A thin layer of IFR separates you from a trip home. The plane is legal, but the GPS database isn’t current and you’ve been assigned an RNAV departure. To make things worse, that’s the only published departure. Can you fly it safely? Can you fly it legally? Or, is it better to roll something of […]

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115. No Approach Here

Instructors
John Krug

GPS has enabled approaches at far more airports than ever before. But with over 5000 public use airports in the U.S. alone, there will always be times when the weather demands IFR and your destination has no instrument approach. Can you “borrow” an approach from a nearby airport without breaking the rules or an airplane?

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114. What Can You Trust?

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

You’ve lost your vacuum system in a conventional-gauge airplane in IMC. However, you still have an autopilot to keep the shiny side on top. You must fly the approach to save the day, but there are several different ways you could use the remaining equipment to do it. Which one is most likely to succeed?

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113. Not Cleared for the Visual

Instructors
Mark Kolber

It’s a quick trip for a lunch date on a VFR day. However, it’s busy airspace, so you file IFR to make your life easier. When it’s time for the visual approach, you get sent over to Tower but without one key item in place. That omission puts you between a regulation and a hard […]

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112. Controller Conundrum

Instructors
John Krug

This month, the roles are reversed and you’re a controller trying to help a pilot in need. The pilot’s plight puts you in the hot seat, where you see several options—none of which are found anywhere in the controller’s manual. Do you play by the book, or give the pilot what he really needs?

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111. Lowball in the High Country

Instructors
Ryan Koch

It’s a cold and snowy approach to Boise, Idaho. All is going well until your altimeter disagrees with your glideslope indications. You’re used to making cold-weather corrections, but none are needed for this approach. Do you continue on faith, adjust your minimums, or give up even though your business future is on the line?

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110. Exception Out of Fullerton

Instructors
Bruce Williams

Standard Instrument Departures, or SIDs, were supposed to simplify departure clearances and procedures. Yet the FAA keeps tweaking the wording because everyone seems confused the moment there’s an “except” tossed in. What will you do when the instructions seem clear until you try to actually fly them in busy SoCal airspace?

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109. Evasive Action in Norfolk

Instructors
Doug Stewart

You’re flying the last approach of a three-day intensive IFR training program. The workload has been high, but the results are great. You’re practically one with your airplane. When you break out and see the runway is dead ahead, you cancel IFR—and a moment later must make a split-second decision to avoid disaster.

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108. Smoke Circles in Montana

Instructors
Wally Moran

Circling approaches have their place—and this time that place is between a rock and something hard. Visibility is restricted, so by the time you see the airport, if you fly this as published, you’ll be hot and high. But the terrain and traffic limit other options. What’s the best way to resolve this conundrum?

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107. Load Shedding Over Deadman Bay

Instructors
Ryan Koch

Low, stable IFR is perfect for practice in actual conditions. That’s until you’re left with only battery power and the nearest VFR is over an hour away. Now you must choose: Is it better to try an instrument approach right away, or fly everything shut down until you reach VFR?

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106. Deviant Behavior

Instructors
John Krug

Options are limited with a departure in some of the nation’s busiest airspace and a route right through a thunderstorm is a no-go. Unfortunately, the best route for you is a non-starter for ATC. How will you negotiate for something you can fly without breaking the airplane or going a hundred miles out of your […]

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105. Flow Control into Portland

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Who would have thought a few wildfires and a bit of runway painting could turn your destination into an all-day waiting game? Now you’re pressed balancing the needs of passengers with medical issues against the intractable flow-control system. What’s the best way to get the timing you want without giving up the IFR protection you […]

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104. Traffic in the Pattern

Instructors
Doug Stewart

At the end of a long flight, you just want to land, but a trainee controller and instrument practice traffic have created the perfect storm—and you’ve just been cleared directly into it. Can you trust a controller who’s already made an operational error, or will you violate an FAR because you believe it will avoid […]

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103. The Route to Limbo

Instructors
Keith Smith

Professional flying means rolling with the changes thrown your way. However, a last-minute route change has you scratching your head, while the passengers in the back twiddle their thumbs. The simplest solution makes things harder for you, but the safest one could be a challenge on your equipment. How will you get this flight underway?

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102. Bump in the Lights

Instructors
Wally Moran

Low IFR conditions just over the mountains tempts two pilots with perfect conditions to practice IFR. It all goes as planned until one surprise event creates a cascade of consequences. Which devil would you choose if forced to weigh multiple benefits that come with multiple drawbacks? There are no easy choices, and none come for […]

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101. Cruisin’ into Steven Bean

Instructors
Doug Stewart

If your POH says flight into known icing is prohibited, you can’t do it. But icing in the real world isn’t so cut-and-dried. How will you complete a flight that hasn’t seen a hint of ice, even in sub-freezing temps, but where descending into the clouds below you could be a non-event—or an emergency you’re […]

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100. Murphy’s Law of Departures

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

You’re waiting for an IFR release with clear sky only 1000 feet above you. Yet you’re stuck—unless you can come up with a creative way to work around the core limitations of IFR from non-towered airports. The wrong decision cost someone his certificate in a famous enforcement case. Will you make the right one?

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99. The Other Kind of Alternate

Instructors
John Krug

You’re off to retrieve your son from college in an airplane that got washed by the line crew before getting washed by the clouds. Now you’re deep in the soup with an uncertain altitude and a list of poor options to get back on the ground. How will you choose?

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98. Mixed Messages Over Medford

Instructors
Keith Smith

Conditions are practically VFR, but it’s night in mountainous terrain so your IFR routing provides the safety you want. Then you realize the controller’s last clearance is lower than you’d expect for this route. Is that a non-issue, or a controlled flight into terrain waiting to happen? The aircraft synthetic vision and terrain-warning systems show […]

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97. Tight Turn with RNAV

Instructors
Jeff Van West

You’ve got what might be the most important date of your life just one simple LPV approach away. Encroaching weather is putting on the squeeze, however, so you speed things up with a tight intercept. Your GPS navigator isn’t playing along. Will you salvage this situation in the next seconds—or go back into the worsening […]

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96. Attitude Issues at Half Moon Bay

Instructors
Doug Stewart

You launch into low IFR, confident in your aircraft and your ability — only to recognize a failure moments before plunging fully into the clouds. There are only seconds to decide between seizing your last chance for a VFR return, or one of three IFR options, each of which requires emergency-level skills to get you […]

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95. Which Approach At Frederick?

Instructors
Dave Hirschman

If you want a landing at your home airport tonight, you’ll need to make a tough call. Will you fly an ILS that has an unusually high visibility requirement, a localizer approach that could leave you too high, a circle-to-land that’s aligned with the wind, or simply land elsewhere? Perhaps synthetic vision will help.

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94. Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Instructors
John Krug

Surrounded by thunderstorms and running low on options, you’ve got a devil’s bargain to contend with. Continuing with Plan A could complete a life-saving mission — or cost you a life you’re quite attached to. Yet bailing out means beelining heavy weather, hard rocks, or military aircraft who aren’t friendly to visitors.

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93. Lonely In Paradise

Instructors
Jeff Van West

After a week enjoying the splendor of the Grand Canyon, you’re one instrument approach away from a safe return home. Unfortunately, a system failure leaves you unable to talk with ATC and you’ll arrive at your destination 45 minutes ahead of schedule. As the classic lyrics ask: Should you stay or should you go?

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92. Vectors Out of McMinnville

Instructors
Wally Moran

An economical bird means cheaper flight hours and a chance to enjoy the scenery. It also may require extra precautions when said scenery is hidden inside a cloud deck. That’s not a problem when you plan ahead, but how will you handle a helpful controller who might, or might not, have all the information?

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91. Clear As New York Snow

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Some routes for IFR flight are direct at any altitude you want, and others are down a tunnel ATC assigns without room for compromise. How will you negotiate a route across New York airspace when there’s icing above, airline traffic below, a cold ocean to the left, and heavy snow approaching from the right?

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90. Paying The Water Bill

Instructors
Doug Stewart

Every pilot has been there: A need to drain a certain personal sump and a choice between holding it or diverting for a pit stop. However, this diversion is in IMC and the best approach includes a requirement you can’t meet, but certainly won’t need. Will you go for it … or just go later?

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89. Trimmed For The Approach

Instructors
Wally Moran

Your Piper Comanche might be five decades old, but choice modifications let it keep pace with factory-new aircraft costing five times as much. Some of the classic systems, however, have limitations. Now a jammed handle has you choosing between four challenging—but quite different—plans to deal with it.

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88. Thunderstorm On Final

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

This flight from the midwest to Texas has been an all-day game of dodge-storm. That was fine until now when the last leg has you caught between the thunderheads on one side and Class Bravo arrival paths on the other. How much will you push back when ATC points you somewhere you’d rather not go?

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87. Trapped Above The Ice

Instructors
Dave Hirschman

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Climb into the clear above potential icing and ride fantastic tailwinds all the way home. You’d arrive in time for a VFR descent and dinner. Now you’re on top of a rising undercast with only oxygen-required altitudes above and known icing below. What’s the best move?

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86. A Tiny Slice Of IFR

Instructors
John Krug

It’s not everyday you get to haul half a ton of auto parts in your airplane, but your friend has parts for a Corvette project that needs getting, and you have the plane to get it. It’s a great day until one small snag turns the road trip movie into an exercise in legal interpretations.

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85. NORDO Below The OROCA

Instructors
Jeff Van West

Slogging along in wind and rain at the minimum altitude for the airway, you’ve been in and out of communication with ATC for the past hour. A shortcut clearance promised to lessen your misery but now presents you with a situation they never covered with the black-and-white rules from your IFR ground school.

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82. Not A Warm Feeling

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

You can’t ask for a better excuse to use your airplane for pleasure than a weekend trip to the island. Conditions are perfectly flyable IFR, but a potential mechanical issue puts the whole plan in jeopardy—or does it? What’s the right level of response to a problem that’s not an obvious show stopper?

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81. The Lights At Columbia County

Instructors
Doug Stewart

It’s a dark and stormy night as you approach your home airport at the end of a long day. The showers passing through the region mean there is no obvious choice for an approach to end the day. What will you request from ATC that best balances convenience, risk, and payoff?

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80. Blind Climb At Richwood

Instructors
Bob Martens

You’ve added quite a few handy tricks to your IFR bag, including departing VFR to get your clearance in the air. It’s always worked without a hitch—until this time when ATC asks a question you never expected. Now your options are vanishing and you have only seconds to come up with an answer.

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79. Curve Ball At Palomar

Instructors
Jeff Van West

Your hotrod airplane has the latest GPS navigator, but that opens the door to procedures you’ve never seen before. How will you handle an approach in IMC when it contains something you’ve never practiced? Think fast; at your current groundspeed, the decision will be made for you in 20 seconds.

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78. How Much Fuel Is Left?

Instructors
Wally Moran

You’re cruising along in IMC when you discover three different methods of predicting your fuel on landing show three different amounts. If the largest number is right, you have enough to be safe. If the smallest one is correct, it’s not even enough to be legal. How will you resolve this dilemma?

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77. Heat Of The Moment

Instructors
Bob Martens

A “hurry up and wait” day for practice approaches creates a trap. When it springs, you find yourself in hot water after only minutes in the air. Is this an emergency that warrants drastic action, or just an abnormal situation necessitating calm thinking and execution of a practiced procedure?

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76. Descend Via STAR

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

The upgrade to a turboprop has been everything you hoped for, but now you’re moving fast in busy airspace with ATC repeatedly changing the plan. You have seconds to decide what a New York controller expects as you descend for one of the nation’s most notorious airports.

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74. Getting Out Of Houston

Instructors
John Krug

A trip to a big city airport throws you a curve, and now you’re on climbout and confused without much time for clarification. What’s the proper choice in terms of safety, even if you’re not sure it’s correct by the book? And if you choose wrong, how much trouble might you cause?

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72. Hanging Out Over Groton

Instructors
Bob Martens

It’s a dark and chilly autumn night with your family in the back as you approach the seaside airport your plane calls home. You’re faced with a dilemma: Accept a few minutes flying low and over the water on approach, or divert only for fear of something so unlikely, it’s hardly ever considered.

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71. Phantom Aircraft At Erie

Instructors
Mark Kolber

After a challenging series of practice approaches, you return to your home airport to find that winds and traffic seem completely different than ADS-B weather led you to expect. In fact, it seems aircraft are popping up out of nowhere, busting VFR minimums, and landing the wrong way. What now?

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70. PIC Of The Right Seat

Instructors
Jeff Van West

Your airplane partner is signed off for his instrument checkride, but must wait a week to take the test. On an actual IFR day, he asks if you’ll file IFR and ride right seat while he flys to stay sharp. You’re not an instructor, although you’re quite proficient in this airplane. Will you do it?

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69. The Tower At Santa Maria

Instructors
John Krug

It’s a crystal clear night as you descend for Santa Maria, California on an IFR flight plan. You’re feeling secure and ahead of the airplane until ATC throws you a curveball that puts everything into question: They say you’re low, even though your centered on the approach and PAPI. How can this be?

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68. Maintaining Personal Minimums

Instructors
Wally Moran

Since getting your instrument rating, you’ve been steadily honing your skills–and lowering your personal minimums. Now you’re faced with an approach that’s below your current personal minimums, but above the minimums you were planning on going to. Will you give yourself a “field promotion”?

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67. Ice Fishing In A Mooney

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

It’s a shock to you and your buddy when just passing through a cloud for 30 seconds turns an IFR practice flight into a serious icing emergency. Now what will you do to salvage the situation and get an airplane safely on the ground when you can’t see out the windscreen and can barely hold […]

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66. To Turn Or Not To Turn

Instructors
Bob Martens

When the frequency gets busy and ATC can’t talk fast enough, it can seem like you’ve been forgotten—and perhaps you have been. How far will you let this situation deteriorate before you take preemptive action, even though it may be in direct violation of an ATC clearance? The clock is ticking.

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65. An Escalating Gear Issue

Instructors
Tom Turner

Getting your whole family and a week’s worth of gear to the Gulf means flying a loaded Beech Baron near the limit of its fuel range. That’s not a problem … until your landing gear decides to take its own holiday right as you approach the final approach fix. Will this be an annoyance or […]

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64. Cold Reception In The U.S.

Instructors
Jeff Van West

After a wedding weekend in Canada, you’re hopping south across the border to get home to Seattle, Washington. The only catch is that potentially sub-freezing clouds stand between you and your appointment with U.S. Customs and Immigration. Which branch of the government will you risk making angry?

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63. The Hills Around Sydney

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Modern avionics improve safety with both advanced guidance and built-in warnings. What do you do when the guidance says you’re spot-on and safe but the warning says you’d better change plans and fast? This approach to Sidney, NY has you stumped and you have only seconds to figure it out.

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62. The Real Best Glide

Instructors
Wally Moran

We all tell ourselves that if we had an engine failure in IMC, we’d simply head for the nearest airport. However, what seems nearest isn’t always the best choice – or even the airport we’re most likely to make. What would you do with an engine failure in flight levels where strong winds are a […]

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61. Getting Into Greenville

Instructors
John Krug

It’s a rare day when dozens of VFR aircraft complicate an instrument approach to minimums, but that’s exactly what’s happening as you try to visit the Greenville International Seaplane Fly-In. Is there a way to end this flight safely, or is it simply time to call it quits? The decision is up to you.

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60. Confusion In Silicon Valley

Instructors
Bob Martens

We commonly think of ATC as our partner in the cockpit, especially when we fly alone. Yet ATC is as fallible as any other human resource. What will you do when you when the situation leaves you only moments to decide if following the clearance as issued will lead to salvation or catastrophe?

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59. A Different Kind Of Approach

Instructors
Wally Moran

Not everyone can afford a glass panel in their aircraft, but the iPad revolution means anyone can have a moving map and backup attitude indicator for less money than a new TV. Having that backup is one thing, but using it in place of an instrument during an emergency is something else.

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58. Three Hops To Oshkosh

Instructors
Jeff Van West

You and three pilot friends have been planning this trip to Oshkosh since last year. The first leg to Buffalo went flawlessly, but now you must negotiate your way through a line of dangerously strong thunderstorms and you can’t get the routing you think is safe. What’s your plan?

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57. An Off-Airway Dilemma

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

It’s been a long week away on business followed by a long flight home. Now less than 100 miles shy of your weekend, with icing above and low IMC below, you’ve lost your primary guidance instrument. Or did you? See if you can finish this flight at least close to your original plans.

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55. A Dizzying Approach

Instructors
Bob Martens

It sounded perfect for building your IFR confidence: 1000-foot ceilings and stable clouds with a mission to bring your daughter home from a commercial airport to your home town. Now you’re on approach in IMC without an instructor on board–and the instrument indications don’t make sense.

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54. Night VFR Flight

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

The flight from your weekend getaway house back to your real home is simply a matter of following the highway through the valley—until the airport, the valley, and the hills are no longer in sight! Would IFR only make things worse? Time is short and valley walls are out there … somewhere.

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53. Quick Decision Needed

Instructors
Wally Moran

You’re the pilot of a well-equipped Cirrus SR22, complete with weeping-wing anti-icing. It’s a seriously capable airplane, but ice caught you by surprise and isn’t shedding as you would expect. You’re over unfriendly terrain and need to make some choices quickly. What will your decision be?

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52. Who’s In Charge?

Instructors
John Krug

What happens when two pilots disagree about how to proceed with a flight? One wishes to divert while the other, more experienced pilot is adamant about pressing on. This scenario will put your CRM skills to the test. Find out the best way to resolve this conflict in the cockpit.

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51. Disappearing in the Fog

Instructors
Tom Turner

A chance to ferry a plane for your local FBO and build up some free flight hours goes well until you approach the destination airport to find fog is rapidly closing in. You realize there are several legal options that will allow you to complete this flight. But of those items, what’s still safe?

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50. Wilderness Trip

Instructors
Wally Moran

You and your friends are loaded into your airplane, eager to get home after a long weekend away. When starting, you discover a minor problem…or is it? After a bit of trouble shooting, the problem appears to be resolved. Do you depart for home or disappoint your passengers?

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49. Departure at Northampton

Instructors
Bob Martens

IFR Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, but all take on added urgency when you are operating in the clouds. This month, you are faced with an emergency shortly after takeoff when entering IMC. Your options aren’t great, but if you choose wisely you will greatly increase your chances of survival.

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48. GPS Approach at Charleston

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Pilots must be prepared to say “unable” when are asked to do something beyond their personal capability or comfort level. At the same time, we all want to fit in with the flow of traffic and help ATC out where we can — especially when flying IFR. What will you say?

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47. Granite State Departure

Instructors
John Krug

Obstacle Departure Procedures are often misunderstood, but are a critical procedure that instrument pilots must be prepared to fly. ODPs may require pre-planning, as is the case in this month’s scenario. Fly along this month and see why a thorough knowledge of ODPs is so important.

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46. Cheap Fuel at Logan County

Instructors
Wally Moran

Sometimes, pilots get a little lazy with their preflight planning. It’s human nature; after so many flights with nothing unexpected, a little complacency can creep in. Yet a simple lack of planning creates a serious jam. Decide what must happen to avoid this serious mistake?

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45. When The Glass Breaks

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Glass panels have forced flight instructors to adapt their training techniques. You’re working on your IPC when the instructor throws a simple failure at you Unfortunately, this simulated emergency quickly became a real one because the instructor lacked in-depth knowledge of the equipment..

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44. Am I Safe?

Instructors
Bob Martens

Most pilots are comfortable preflighting their airplane and making sound decisions as to its airworthiness, but we often fail to evaluate the most important piece of equipment in the airplane: the pilot! Making the best self-analysis isn’t always simple, but it’s key to this scenario.

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43. Cloud Surfing

Instructors
John Krug

IFR flights in marginal weather require continually monitoring conditions along the route and adjusting the flight as needed. Sometimes there are clear dangers, but often it’s a matter of balancing the comfort, duration, and safety of the flight. How will you rework the plan when there’s no clear choice?

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42. An Easy IFR Training Day

Instructors
Wally Moran

You and your flying club buddy, Ted, head out to do some practice instrument approaches to maintain your IFR currency. Ted is a retired professional pilot and your flying mentor. You enjoy learning from him, but today you are forced into a difficult situation without his help.

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41. Unwanted Adventure Over The Rockies

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Fly GA airplanes at higher altitudes and you’ll discover some unique challenges. This includes additional preflight items, as well as procedures and operations during the enroute portion of a flight. This trip across the Rockies gets dicey when a few oversights start to gang up on you.

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40. Foggy Night at Bridgeport

Instructors
Bob Martens

Fog can be a killer, especially after the sun goes down, which concerns you when returning to your home airport just after dark and you notice a few low clouds. This kind of situation can be dangerous, depending on the severity of the fog and your choice about how to proceed. What will you do?

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39. Snowplows on the Runway

Instructors
John Krug

Even with careful preparation and planning, you just might be thrown a curve ball during an IFR flight. How about a snowplow on the runway where you need to land? Handling this under IFR will test your knowledge of the system and experience in working it to your advantage.

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38. Localizer Approach at Suffolk

Instructors
Wally Moran

Advanced avionics in modern light airplanes should be a pilot’s best friend, but if a pilot doesn’t have a complete understanding of the equipment, a simple mistake can lead to big trouble. Sometimes just ONE button push, is enough to create confusion and leave you way behind the airplane.

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37. Night VFR Departure

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

A night IFR trip in a single-engine airplane requires the utmost in planning and preparation. Watch how a time issue, an unexpected trip back to the ramp, and a decision to depart and pick up the IFR clearance in the air have pushed you right to the limits of your capability. How will you react?

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36. Circling Approach In Michigan

Instructors
Bob Martens

You’re maneuvering your airplane to land during the final stages of a circling approach. Add low weather conditions, nervous passengers, and a few other minor distractions to the mix and the risk is quickly cranked up. Will this be straightforward, or a seriously challenging maneuver?

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35. Canadian Overflight

Instructors
John Krug

You and a friend are flying to Wisconsin to join a few hundred thousand fellow aviators for a week of airplanes, sun and brats. Your planned route from the East Coast was south of Lake Erie. However, a change due to weather creates a situation deep in Canadian airspace.

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34. Bad Weather At Little Rock

Instructors
Wally Moran

You get an urgent call from a friend whose wife and daughter have been involved in an automobile accident hundreds of miles away. How will you balance thunderstorms on your route of flight with your friend’s urgent need to get to the airport near their hospital right away?

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33. A Serious Attitude Issue

Instructors
Bob Martens

As instrument pilots, we’re dependent on our technology and cockpit automation to keep us out of trouble. This high tech gear is blessing when it reduces our workload — or a curse when we’re too reliant on it. See how a small technical glitch can push you over the edge in an instant.

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32. North Country Approach

Instructors
John Krug

Flying instrument approaches to remote airports can present unique challenges. See how this approach to a backwoods airport went from straight-forward to highly challenging in the blink of an eye. Understanding the IFR trap inherent in this scenario reduces your risk when flying IFR out in the sticks.

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31. Thunderstorm over Western PA

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Cockpit weather equipment gives IFR pilots an edge. You can still get painted into a dangerous corner when your equipment tells you one thing about thunderstorms, while your eyeballs tell something different.. Finding your way out of this tight spot will help avoid such situations in the first place.

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30. Fog Over Georgia

Instructors
Wally Moran

You have a new glass-panel airplane, but you’re not instrument current or proficient using the new equipment. You are planning an important business trip and might need to fly IFR. A local CFI whom you’ve never flown with offers to make the trip with you. It seems like a good idea, until you get into […]

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29. Icing Over West Virginia

Instructors
Bob Martens

You’re cruising along in the clear, but below you is a widespread cloud layer with areas of forecasted icing. As you continue along your route, the weather conditions diverge from the forecast, and the situation deteriorates to the point where you need to make a critical decision.

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28. Night Visual to Pompano Beach

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

A visual approach can expedite traffic and save fuel while retaining an IFR clearance. However, visual approaches are not without risk for the pilot. The weather is good VFR and it’s a familiar airplane in familiar airspace. Yet you can still fly a perfectly functioning airplane into the ground.

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27. Night Takeoff at PDX

Instructors
John Krug

There are critical parts of instrument (and VFR) flying that are often overlooked. Ride along and discover how something that seems so easy can overload pilots of all skill and experience levels. John Krug offers a unique perspective and valuable lessons on this important issue.

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26. Martha’s Vineyard Accident

Instructors
Bob Martens

You’re highly experienced, have made the trip to your vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard island dozens of times and fly a very capable, high-performance airplane. While these factors should work in your favor, they can also stack the deck against you in the right circumstances.

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25. Diversion Decision

Instructors
Wally Moran

It’s not unusual for an instrument flight to present challenges that we couldn’t have predicted before departure. Making a diversion during the flight is one of those situations you must work out on the fly, and no two situations are every quite the same. Practice helps you prepare, however.

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24. Localizer Outage at Nantucket

Instructors
John Krug

Failures are never good, but the worst place is in the last stage of the approach—especially when you can’t do anything to fix it. Ride along as John Krug presents a scenario based on a real situation that happened to him. Nothing is off limits when the stuff hits the fan.

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23. The Hanscom STAR

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Even though you received transition training for a faster airplane capable of flying at higher altitudes, you discover a significant gap in your IFR knowledge while on what should be a routine flight at higher altitudes. It would have been if you review the procedure before departing.

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22. A Danbury Approach

Instructors
Bob Martens

Non-precision approaches can be challenging, especially when the weather is near minimums. The risk increases when the airport is surrounded by terrain in all quadrants. Add a high-performance airplane that’s new to you and a wet runway, and you’ve got the recipe for trouble.

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21. Discovery Near San Francisco

Instructors
Wally Moran

You have a problem with your airplane that could be a minor inconvenience or a full-blown emergency situation. First you’ll have to evaluate this problem in-flight. Then you’ll have to take the necessary actions for the best possible outcome even though none of your options are ideal.

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20. Trouble Near Palomar

Instructors
John Krug

At a critical moment during an IFR flight, frequency congestion can turn from inconvenient to downright dangerous. This is further complicated when there are multiple airplanes in the same sector of sky with similar call signs. This scenario is based on a real accident situation that could happen to anyone.

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19. Approach to Mena

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

In non-radar environments, the pilot must fly an instrument approach legally, safely and efficiently without the assistance, or protection, that an air-traffic controller provides. See if you’re up to the challenge of managing all the details and decisions without a helpful eye of ATC.

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18. Charleston Takeoff

Instructors
Wally Moran

You’re flying your family to Orlando, Florida so your daughter can fulfill her lifelong dream and “swim with the dolphins” at SeaWorld. Weather delays have created an urgent departure to make it there for your reserved time. Then a surprise puts your family in a potentially dangerous situation.

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17. North Adams Departure

Instructors
Bob Martens

A departure from a non-towered airport into a non-radar environment at an hour when you should still be in bed, is a tough challenge for anyone. The scenario is based on a real, fatal accident and could have easily been prevented. Don’t miss the roundtable discussion for added insights.

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16. Mechanical Trouble Near Millville

Instructors
John Krug

Things can go from “ops-normal” to big trouble in a heartbeat any day, but there’s an increased risk of something turning up when an aircraft has just come out of maintenance. Think your way through this difficult situation, which hits you unexpectedly during what should be a simple, 20-minute flight.

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15. Icing Near Worcester

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Helping a VFR-only pilot get his airplane home airport should be piece of cake. It’s a short trip in reasonable weather in a well-equipped airplane. All goes as planned until you run into unexpected conditions shortly after departure. Suddenly, a safe outcome to this flight is in question.

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14. Vectors to New Haven

Instructors
Bob Martens

A short flight home from Nantucket Island off Massachusetts with your wife and two friends is uneventful until the final stages. You’ll face night IFR, a potential circle-to-land approach, and multiple heading changes from ATC. See how well you do making sound decisions under pressure.

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13. GPS Loss Near Rutland

Instructors
Wally Moran

GPS has proven to be extremely reliable. They are now a backbone of IFR flight. However, GPS units and satellite transmissions can and do fail. Even a partial loss of your GPS unit can have a significant impact. Experience first-hand how a failure will impact a typical IFR flight.

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12. Medical Over New Mexico

Instructors
John Krug

Medical emergencies are always a source of concern in aviation, but they take on added significance in IMC. How will you get a sick passenger on the ground quickly? No matter what you choose, I’ll require an emergency instrument letdown, approach and landing under IFR.

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11. Lost Comm at Teterboro

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

How would you like to suddenly lose all radio communications in one of the busiest airspaces in the world — while in IMC? While the set-up for this lost comm is humorous, the lessons are deadly serious, and they offer a chance to review a life-saving procedure you might need one day.

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10. Night Approach to Minimums

Instructors
Bob Martens

After a long cross country trip, you are faced with the prospect of making an approach to minimums with deteriorating weather and strong turbulence. To make matters worse, you’re attempting the approach at night after a long day of flying. How will you make a rough day end well?

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9. Thunderstorms to Nashville

Instructors
Wally Moran

When lines of thunderstorms cross your path, you must evaluate several options and decide on the safest route around this severe weather. Depending on which option you choose, you may also be required to do some tactical, in-flight planning, which will only add to the challenge of getting to your destination.

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8. IFR Reroute to Kinston

Instructors
John Krug

Instrument flight plans don’t always arrive as filed. How quickly can you evaluate several options from ATC in the highly congested NY airspace, including how each one impacts your personal minimums and comfort level? IFR flying is all about managing risk and adapting to changing conditions.

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7. Electrical Failure Over Iowa

Instructors
Wally Moran

Electrical failures can sneak up on the inattentive. Yet they require prompt action and sound decision making to guarantee a safe outcome. Choosing the best place to land is important, but also how you manage the flight to your chosen landing location is equally–if not more– important.

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6. Headwinds to St Louis

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

A three-hour IFR flight to attend a family reunion is uneventful for most of the trip, until you notice that something isn’t quite right. You’ll need to evaluate the current situation and decide if a change in your flight plan is warranted before weather deteriorates at your destination.

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5. Super Bowl Arrival

Instructors
Wally Moran, John Krug

When you’re offered Super Bowl tickets on the morning of the big game, owning your own airplane means you can fly yourself and a friend to Dallas in plenty of time to make the kickoff. Everything is perfect, except for the weather. Now you’ll have to make some tricky decisions. See you at the game?

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4. Van Nuys Departure

Instructors
John Krug, Bob Nardiello

Although a standard instrument departure (SID) will keep aircraft away from terrain, it is optimized for ATC route of flight and will not always provide the lowest climb gradient. Test your ability to analyze all available departure options and choose the best one in challenging conditions!

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3. Unexpected Icing Over Oregon

Instructors
Wally Moran, John Krug

Unexpected icing encounters can pose a threat to any IFR pilot, no matter what equipment they’re flying . Test your decision making when you encounter ice along your route that was not in the weather forecast. Your immediate reaction will be critical for ensuring a safe outcome.

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2. Circling Approach vs Tailwind

Instructors
Bob Nardiello

Sometimes the best choice is not so obvious, and each option creates unique challenges. This is a real-world situation and your evaluation and decision making can make the difference between an uneventful approach and a hazardous one. How will your decisions play out?

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1. Partial Panel Emergency

Instructors
Bob Nardiello, Wally Moran

Losing critical instruments in IMC could scare the pants off any instrument pilot. Glass cockpits or redundant systems don’t exempt pilots from instrument emergencies. Consider how you would handle an emergency that requires an immediate diversion in IMC followed by a partial-panel approach.

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