45h IR – Instrument Rating, done!

So there it was, finally in my hands, the temporary airman certificate. I am an instrument pilot now, it says. But as always, it is just a license to learn and I stand at the very beginning. This spring was quite eventful, as I tried to get the flight training done before I got married….

38.3h IR – Phase Check

My flight instructor scheduled the examiner for next Wednesday and I was on the final stretch. I arrived at the flight school for a phase check with a senior instructor. First thing I heard when I arrived was: There was a regulation change by the FAA. Regulation Change On December 3rd the FAA changed its…

37.3h IR – Partial Panel

Today we had another standard session of ILS, localizer and GPS approaches at Front Range and Centennial. This time only the ILS with full panel and during the latter two approaches I had a simulated vacuum pump failure. Or to make it sound less dramatic, my instructor put sticky-notes on some important instruments. On the…

34.2h IR – Written Exam and Long X-Country

“We don’t have an instrument test scheduled for today,”, the lady at the test center said, “but in that case we schedule one for 15 minutes from now.” At 10.0015 my written test began, thanks to the American can-do attitude, and I noticed there was a whole book with figures I had never seen before….

19.6h IR – Trust in Instruments

Can I trust an instrument that is filled with schnaps*? I admit, until now I believed the magnetic compass and turn coordinator were instruments that randomly tumbled around. The magnetic compass has so many errors, I rather only used it in cruise to reset the directional gyro every 15 minutes. During the last flights I…

16.4h IR – When Everything Fails

This double lesson showed clearly what I am capable of and of what I am not. The full panel approach into Aspen went smooth and precise but as soon as I lost my directional gyro on a simple approach I got into trouble. Today’s approaches into six airports were exhausting – on the last approach…

13.2h IR – Any Approach You’d Like

A change in the FAA’s rules affects my flight training. Since last week 20 hours of simulator time, instead of ten, count towards the instrument rating. As soon as I heard about it I contacted my flight school. They checked my links and were convinced. The students can now save a bit more money: In…

9.9h IR – Three Approaches

This time I flew an ILS, VOR and GPS approach – even without becoming airsick. My confidence is back and I am eager to finish this rating within the next two months. I scheduled about six flights now before Christmas and until then I also intend to get the written exam behind me. Today’s flight…

8.6h IR – Airsick Pilot

Motion sickness caught me on my last flight, although it has never been an issue to me before. The turbulent air over Denver, the hothouse effect under the goggles and my brain trying to make sense of the pitching and yawing moments of the aeroplane – it was too much. It happens fast but takes…

7.6h IR – Vacuum Pump Failure

After today’s flight it is all repetition until my oral and practical test. It is impressing how much one can learn in 8.1 hours and a bit of ground school. Now I need 31.9 hours simulated instrument time to meet all requirements for the test. Almost all of it can be done with another student…

6.6h IR – NDB Approach and DME Arc

This time I flew a non-directional beacon approach and a DME arc. It was a lot of fun and very rewarding. I am making good progress and I understand less and less why the instrument rating has such a rocket-science reputation in Europe. It probably is more difficult over there because everybody is saying that…

First Approach down to Minimums

A precision approach down to 200ft/60m above the airport in the fourth lesson, I didn’t think I would progress so fast. To say the least: It would have been scary in a real plane. 😉 Standard instrument departures and standard arrival routes are pretty straight forward. An approach not so much. There is a wealth…

1.8h IR – Increasing the Workload

VOR and NDB navigation, copying my first clearance and manoeuvering in IMC at night? When my instructor told me about this lesson I got a bit nervous. This was going to be tough, I thought. Josh made up an easy clearance and I started to copy it on my kneeboard. An acronym called CRAFT helped…

0.9h IR – Let’s get started

The instrument ground school will soon come to an end, so I thought it might be time to start flight training. I had a lesson in the Redbird FMX full motion simulator which will be the training device for my first ten hours in instrument meteorological conditions. We called it an introductory flight but there…

213h – Lightnings

The weather in Denver was again hot and convective. I scheduled a usual VFR flight to become familiar with the area. During taxi I realized the Skyhawk had a lightning detector built in. After departure, my instructor asked me if I had seen the lightning ahead of us. In fact, our “strike finder” indicated it…

Looking Back and Ahead (Video)

Next Monday I am going to fly the first time at Centennial (KAPA) and I am happy to get back in the air. First I need to do a flight review because I am not current on my FAA license anymore. Gosh, it is already three years ago when I was training for my private…

The Land of Virga

The heat and altitude at this place is astonishing. It is so dry that rain usually evaporates before reaching the ground, a phenomenon called Virga. The place I am living at now is Denver, Colorado. They call it the Mile High City and the density altitude is breathtaking. This is the place where I am…

Blue Skies

During the grey fall days it is hard to believe that there’s blue skies – anywhere above. One lucky Saturday the clouds opened up a bit to let us catch a bit of sunlight. Knowing there weren’t any clouds in the alps, we headed toward them for a $100 fondue. The alps holding back the…