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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