Flying Lesson # 28 – Instrument Flight

August 12, 2012

Working towards GFPT, today was all about the basics of instrument flight. When I say basics, I mean basics. What’s covered in GFPT is only scraping the surface of what will come later in my commercial pilot journey.

We took off in JOO with a departure to the south. Without even reaching Park Ridge, Robert had me throw on the hood. The hood is a very unflattering device that is worn on the head, much like the fluorescent visors seen on Asian tourists. The idea is to allow you vision of only the instrument panel and to block out any vision of the outside world. Welcome to instrument flight 101.

The basic instrument panel is made up of 7 very important instruments, as pictured left. The airspeed indicator, attitude indicator, altimeter, vertical speed indicator, directional gyro and the turn co-ordinator with balance ball. I’m not going to go into what each do, but they are all vital in controlling the aircraft. What I discovered today, however, is that without full vision, using instruments alone is quite a task. The only way to describe the feeling is to liken it to a simulator. It almost feels like you’re not really in the sky. You’re not really flying the plane, you’re just keeping a bunch of instruments within specified limits.

We headed out towards Jimboomba. That’s really all I can tell you, after sighting Park Ridge, my world went black and all I could see was instruments. Robert would give me a command and I would do my darnedest to make the plane do what he asked. This involved turning, climbing, descending, turning and climbing and turning and descending. The hardest part however was flying straight and level. As Robert saysΒ “It’s funny that straight and level is kind of hard because you are trying to keep the values, whereas at least if you’re turning, as long as you’re not turning too steep, you’re not doing anything wrong yet”.Β Truer words have not been spoken; I found it incredibly hard initially to keep it level. It’s such a fine line between nose too high, level and nose too low.

After finally getting the hang of it, Robert told me to take a break and take off my hood. I can tell when he’s up to something and sure enough just as I get my headset back on, he pulls the throttle.. Forced landing. After the initial shock and Robert saying “Quick Chris, save us!” I sprung in to action, found a suitable place to land and completed the checklist fairly well. Granted I was too close on my down-wind, base and final, but at least I remembered most of the checklist in the right order and remembered to go around at 500 feet.

After a little more work ‘under the hood’ Robert had me fly us home. I didn’t really have any difficulty with this. The area makes sense to me for the most part and Robert has been pretty awesome at teaching me what to look for. I’m pretty confident I’m ready to go solo in the training area. I just need to pass the pre-area solo quiz and get the ok from Robert.

Not too sure what next week has in store, whatever it is I’m sure I’ll enjoy it πŸ™‚

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