Learning to fly

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representative instrument approach plate for that airport.

September 18, 2003, 7 PM
Breezy but nice fall temps today and hardly a cloud in the sky. Andy was on a cross country with another student, so Karen rode with me today. She was kinda apprehensive since she wasn't as familiar with the GPS as she would like to be, but I said I thought I had enough command of it to do the job, which proved pretty true.

We took off from 4 and headed south where we contacted Approach for the ILS into McCullum. They vectored us around and my scan was suffering from the pretty stiff winds aloft blowing at about 21 knots. So I blew throught the localizer and had to play catchup from that point on. Still trying to catch up, I busted the DH. The second try was better, although I was having a problem with my read backs because of my ragged aircraft control, his rapid fire speech and the volume of traffic on the radio. The second approach was pretty close to the bullseye all the way down, but I had forgotten the missed given to us by Approach. Karen gave it to me.

Then we were vectored direct to Cartersville airport, but we asked them to vector us to the NDB for the practice approach. So I was lost for a moment or two while we were really going nowhere it seemed. But as soon as we turned for the NDB, I was back in command and had everything fairly well in hand.

The inbound had a good tailwind so I had to really slow down to get us to altitudes at the fixes. But I knew where I was, what I was doing and how far to go all the way up to the missed. Then once again, I forgot the assigned missed numbers that Atlanta had given us. So Karen had me turn the correct way while I asked for the GPS approach into 47A. I set it up and then punched a wrong button, so Karen stepped up and hit the right one to get us to 47A. Once I got established on the inbound I forgot about the crosswind and before I realized it I had full deflection. But I got back on course in time for FAF and made a fairly decent night landing.

September 25, 2003, 7 PM
A clear fall day with almost no breeze, and I'm back in the cockpit with Andy today.

We filed IFR and opened the flight plan on the ground just before takeoff. Then we headed south to wait for vectors into the ILS at RYY. I set it up and while I was doing that Andy got the ATIS. We ended up getting vectored right through the localizer and a moment later the controller apologized and vectored us back around. That put us a little closer into the IAF and gave me less time to set up, but I really didn't have too much problem, especially with no wind to speak of.

My communications were somewhat off and I wasn't ahead of the plane very much at all. I had a hard time hearing our tail number a couple of times and sometimes I didn't understand the instructions at all. When that happened, I'd look hopelessly at Andy and he'd usually just roger the call.

After a missed ILS 27 approach we vectored around back of RYY to do the VOR on Rwy 9. This is when I started getting behind since I hadn't really studied the approach much before today. I did OK, but it was just OK since I was not enough ahead of the plane to be confident in my flying.

After the missed, we transitioned to Cartersville for the localizer to Rwy 19. Again, I did OK with it, but just not ahead of the plane enough to fly it as well as it can be flown. Then we went missed, direct back to 47A. At the last minute, I realized I needed to set up the radio to 123.00. I did, but then forgot to activate it when we terminated IFR, almost broadcasting our approach on Atlanta's freq. But Andy was watching for it and stopped me.

I busted the GPS approach minimum of 1640' by a foot or two even though I should have just leveled out at 1700' for safety's sake. I wasn't worried too much about it since I could have saved it if I wanted to yank on the yoke. When I lifted the hood, we found out our landing light is burned out or unplugged, so the touchdown was interesting to say the least.

October 2, 2003, 7 PM
Cool today with a little breeze from the north. I made sure to check the landing light on preflight this time and it was good. We filed IFR to the Charlie Brown ILS, McCullom ILS, Cartersville VOR, and then home via the Cherokee GPS.

We took off from 4 and turned south at 4000'. It took a couple of tries to get Atlanta to pay attention to us and open our flight plan. Finally they did and we started for Charlie Brown. I had a marginally better performance on the radio today. I was able to get a few readbacks out with little trouble, but some were awful. Most were a struggle. Almost every approach tonight was average with usual deviations from course when I got behind the plane. McCullom was probably the best approach, but a lousy missed. I forgot the revised missed procedure Atlanta gave us and started to fly the published one instead.

My altitudes were better than usual and I seemed to be at least with the plane most of the time, if not ahead of it. Usually the times I find myself behind the plane is during the transistion from the missed to the setup for the next approach. I'm usually struggling to get stabilized and Andy is urging me on to get everything set up. He tells me to relax and try to be more methodical, but then seems to rush me when we're still transitioning and not settled in. It's good for me to be able to multitask, but something usually suffers as a result and then I start falling behind. All it takes is one task that he handles for me to take off a small measure of pressure and I'm back up to speed. He set up the GPS back into Cherokee and that was probably the second best approach of the night.

October 12, 2003, 5 PM
Blue skies with scattered clouds at 4000' and warm temps. We thought we'd do the ILS into RYY, the localizer at Cartersville and the GPS back at 47A. Up in the air they said the localizer was in use at RYY so we switched over to that approach plate. Shortly after we called Atlanta, RYY changed to the ILS and we were asked if we wanted to change. We said yes, set it back up like we had originally planned and shuffled our approach plates around once agian.

I had a good day with the radio; I committed no real screw ups and I caught nearly everything we were supposed to do. A couple of repeats, but for the most part, it was a non-event. That really helped because with less radio stress, it left more brain cells free to assign to other tasks and lowered my overall stress level.

We shot two ILS approaches into RYY and I did so well that on the second missed, he covered the attitude indicator and the directional gyro. Attitude was left to be determined by speed and VSI and the GPS was my only option for direction since the wet compass seems a bit unreliable right now. I didn't have too much problem with the partial panel and didn't bust any altitudes with the approaches at RYY. Localizer and glideslope were all pretty well centered with a slight crosswind.

So we headed over to the VOR at Cartersville, but during the transition, I was behind as usual. I haven't found my groove for that setup yet and I was shotgunning all of the settings with no apparent method to my madness. I was supposed to time my turns, but it was a bit too much math to ask my brain to figure how much time a 20 degree turn should take at standard rate (20/3 = about 7 seconds). It's even worse when I need to calculate the difference between my current heading and the new heading, and then work out the Chinese trigonometry necessary for the timed turn, all in a relatively short time so that we comply with ATC requests in a timely manner. I'll have to work on that.

The approach went fairly well, but a bit sloppy on organization. All of my courses were held good, but the 5 T's were slow in coming out of me. I hit the timer right when I should have, but then executed the missed before our time was up. I didn't realize that the procedure requires using all available time to your advantage. Now I do.On the missed, we went direct to 47A and after I set up the approach, we canceled IFR and went the rest of the way on our own. This one went real well and I was dead on when I lifted the hood. A real smooth landing in daylight to cap off a real confidence builder flight.

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