Flight Two – Wednesday 02/24/2021
Wednesday after work I met my CFII at the airport again for round two of my training. I had spent the past days since my last flight reviewing all the things that I did wrong. The biggest one was fixating on one instrument or in the case of the top G5 (Attitude Indicator) just fixating on one part of it instead of a good constant scan. The second item I wanted to change is the power settings. I wanted to find a power setting for just flying around that would give slower speeds, you know, the way the Cessna and Cherokee drivers fly around. At slower speeds the controls are not as responsive and “should” make it easier to hold headings and altitudes.
I had the plane pre-flighted before my CFII arrived and when he got to the hangar we went over the plan for the flight. I told him the things I felt I struggled with on the first flight and asked what he felt I needed to work on.
The first flight I didn’t put the foggles on until we were at 3,500′ and over the practice area. This flight I told him that once we made the turn to the northeast heading toward the practice area that I would give him control of the plane and put the foggles on and then take control back for the remainder of the climb and air work.
This flight was more of the same, turns, climbs, and descents. With the prop pulled back to 2,350 rpm and 18″ manifold pressure we were cruising around at about 125 mph IAS (Indicated Airspeed) and it was easier than the previous flight to hold my altitude and headings. My instrument scan was much improved as well. There is still a long way to go, but I did not feel like I was completely behind the plane.
We did some more unusual attitude recoveries. The first two were fairly easy. There was a recovery from a climbing left turn followed by a recovery from a descending right turn. The third maneuver I lost track of what we were doing. Looking down at my lap I felt us turn one direction, then the other, at one point we were in a climb and then I felt him push the nose over at one point because I got a little light in the seat. At that point my head was spinning a little when he gave me the plane back.
Flying simulated instrument conditions in the daytime you often pick up on the shadows from the sun, even with the foggles on. One of the advantages of flying simulated instrument conditions at night is that without the sun you don’t have any of that outside input. When he gave me the plane back on the third maneuver I had no idea which direction we were headed, however a quick glance at the AI showed we were in a climbing right turn so I added some throttle while pushing the nose over and then rolled the wings level.
He gave me headings to bring us around to line up and fly the RNAV GPS approach for runway 24 into Fullerton. I wandered back and forth and above and below the glideslope. It was not a “stabilized approach,” but by the time we were at 900′ we were lined up and on glideslope. He took the plane while I removed the foggles and it was a beautiful sight to see the runway lights right there in front of us.
Flight Three – Saturday 02/27/2021
By 9am there were barely any remnants of the very slight marine layer, one of these days there will be an actual marine layer to climb through and descend back through, but that day is not today. The plan for today would be to fly a couple of approaches and also do some partial panel work.
We reviewed the approach plates for the RNAV (GPS) Z RWY 30 Approach to KLGB (Long Beach) and the RNAV (GPS) RWY 24 Approach to KFUL (Fullerton). We had flown the approach into KFUL on Wednesday evening but he had just talked me through the approach instead of briefing the plate.
After the run-up I called up Ground for taxi clearance and also flight following to Long Beach. There were light winds from the east so we departed runway 06 and made the turn to a heading of 120° and I gave the CFII the plane while I put the foggles on and contacted SoCal Approach. We were originally going to level off at 2,000′ but he had me stop short at 1,600′ due to the lingering clouds and although we were on flight following we were not on an instrument flight plan.
SoCal gave us vectors to final for the RNAV (GPS) Z RWY 30 approach into Long Beach and eventually handed us off to the tower. My CFII helped talk me through the radio calls as most of the lingo was new to me. When flying it as a practice approach my CFII said that the tower likes you to break off the approach before the runway and turn south instead of flying the whole missed approach and tying up the airspace. We had briefed the whole approach but he told me when to begin my climbing left turn and we came around to a heading of 180° and proceeded to the Long Beach practice area.
When I was planning the upgrades to the panel I built in a lot of redundancy. The dual G5’s both have a a battery backup of up to 4 hours. The turn coordinator was replaced by an RCA Attitude Indicator that also has slip/skid and turn rate indicators as well as a battery backup. If they lose power they all have a battery backup. If the G5 Attitude indicator fails I can switch the G5 Directional Gyro to become the AI. If both of those fail instead of just a turn coordinator I still have an AI available.
However, given all the redundancy we still needed to practice partial panel scenarios so he reached over and just turned off both G5’s. We did some climbs, descents and compass turns over the practice area. At that point I was wishing that my compass card wasn’t up high on the center post as I had to tilt my head back to see it with the foggles on, but if I was in actual IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) it would just be a glance over to my right as my whole upper vision wouldn’t be blocked.
After about ten minutes of partial panel work he gave my the G5’s back. Approaching John Wayne’s airspace ATC asked our intentions. I told them we wanted to do the RNAV (GPS) RWY 24 practice approach into KFUL. Fullerton was still using runway 06 so we would have to fly the approach and then break off and circle to land 06. ATC gave us vectors intercept the final for the approach and then we were handed off to KFUL Tower.
Before we reached the MDA (Minimum Descent Altitude) the tower told us that the winds were shifting and we could continue on and land 24. I gave my CFII the plane while I took the foggles off and just like on Wednesday night’s flight there was the runway right in front of us. I could see two planes at the far end of the field who were waiting to depart 06 and holding for us to land.
I felt like I was keeping up with the plane the past two flights, but the introduction of communicating with ATC for approaches on this flight had me feeling behind the radios. I know that instrument flying is flying with only reference to instruments, but I still shake my head a little when I look back on these flights. From just after taking off until just before landing I never saw anything outside. In that time we flew from Fullerton south over Huntington Beach, the approach into Long Beach and down to about 500′ above the ground before breaking off the approach and climbing off to the south. After that we flew around the practice area over Long Beach before flying over Santa Anan, Orange, and Yorba Linda before flying the approach into Fullerton where at 900′ (about 800′ above the ground) I finally got to see outside again.
It has been a great challenge so far and I’m loving all of it.