Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Instrument Pilot

After almost a year of instrument flying lessons, I finally took my instrument practical test (and passed, more importantly). The instrument rating means that I can now fly into regions of low visibility, fly through clouds, and land at airports that are overcast. It also means that I have at least a basic knowledge of the many pages of regulations specifying under what conditions I cannot do those things.

The picture (courtesy of FlightAware) shows the exact path my aircraft took over the course of my check-ride. My clearance was KRHV RV SJC V-334 SUNOL V-195 ECA KSCK. We flew from Reid-Hillview to Stockton, did a GPS approach at Stockton, followed by a failed-instrument approach to Tracy. I missed my initial call to turn and join the course on that one, so the controller took me through a 270 turn to come back and join the course. I go straight west until joining the 220 radial off of ECA, then fly towards the Tracy airport until we hit the missed approach point.

Normally at that point I would fly north along the SAC-157 radial, but when I tried to dial in the SAC VOR, I got nothing, so the examiner told my to use the GPS to fly to the TRACY intersection and hold. You can see my holding pattern as the part that looks like a scribble in the middle of the trace. After holding for a bit and getting my act together, we flew the ILS into Livermore (hard to see, since the track is very close to my outbound track).

After going missed at Livermore, the ride was basically over, so I flew us back to Reid-Hillview while chatting with the examiner. After pulling off a nice no-bump landing, the examiner signed my temporary certificate and asked, "So when are you going for your commercial?"

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