Thursday, February 19, 2009

Long-winded update

I've been falling behind on my blogging lately. I guess it's the 4:30 am wake-up every morning, combined with grad school responsibilities, catching up with me. Things are going well. After last weekend, we've been doing a lot of approach work here locally to try and polish things. The ILSs are looking great, and I shot two of the most beautiful GPS approaches possible this morning. We're also integrating more partial-panel work. Here's the rub. I can fly an approach really well partial panel, but partial panel holds are killing me. It took me three turns this morning to get anywhere near what I wanted, and that was on a published hold. I'll keep working on it.

Tuesday morning was something of a milestone for me. When we left McGregor, reported ceilings were 600 AGL. On all the approaches there, you need rougly 500 feet to get back in. As soon as I got the airplane trimmed for an 85 knot enroute climb, we were in the soup. We'd stay that way the entire flight. First, we headed over to Waco. We got vectors for the ILS 19. I was a little tenser than normal; it was my first ILS in hard-core soup. It took me a little longer than I would have liked to get the localizer and glideslope to calm down, but when they did it was a really pretty approach. You can't underestimate how cool it is to look up just above DH and see those approach lights fade into view.

Then, we headed back to McGregor. We first got vectors for the GPS 35 back in. We shot it all the way to minimums. Literally at our MDA, we spotted the field. But, this would have required a downwind landing. We at first tried to circle, but when we did we lost the field. So, we got vectors again for the GPS 17. This time, not as much of a problem. Just as before, right at MDA we spotted the field and made a safe landing. There was some discussion between my instructor and the chief instructor about whether or not we should have even gone on that flight, and I see both sides. What I will, say, though, are two things. First, if I'm solo on a day like that, I'm going missed and shooting the ILS over at Waco. No question. Second, I consider myself fortunate to be going into an instrument rating really knowing what minimums LOOK like. I consider it a good flight and a turning point.

The checkride is now getting closer...should be within about 2 weeks, maybe 3 if it's hard to schedule. Which means I'm starting to study more and more for the written. The pressure of completing my grad school case study by late April, and getting the Commercial and my FOI and CFI writtens done around the same time so I can make my tentative CFI class in early May, is mounting. It's time to just chill a little bit and enjoy what I'm doing. Which is fly. Every morning. And that still beats the best day in any office I've worked in.

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