From VFR XC to IR in actual--train like you fight


New Member
It really has been all I can do to try to get up in the air. This past week I was supposed to fly once on Monday--a night flight, then I was supposed to do the cross country to LNS on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Eastern Seabord has had the snowstorm of the century. We had the most snow in one event since 1922. Add to that the fact that we are under an ADIZ in the Baltimore-Washington area, and it just hasn't been easy to get on a training flight.

But I did everything I could to get a lesson in. I cleared today, Friday, for the cross-country. I had everything planned, short of the final details on the airwork navigation log. The weather was going South again, though, so it wasn't to be.

It started to rain as we preflighted. Finally, CFI and I decided to file IFR to FDK. This was really a very inspiring experience for me for a number of reasons. First of all, I was able to experience flying in moderate rain. Then, I was lucky enough to fly another flight in actual (1.5 actual, 2.5 total actual to date).

Things I noticed included: I am much better at flying on the gagues than the only other time I flew in actual. CFI has had me over for a few lessons on his FAA-approved simulator, and the work there really showed on the flight today. I didn't find myself careening off course or heading into an unusual attitude. I also flew two ILS approaches "pretty well" (CFI's words).

The first one, at FDK, I popped out at about 1,300, but at BWI I flew down the tube all the way to 700. Laugh all you want, but for this primary, cross-country phase student, it was quite a thrill to see those approach lights right on the nose! And mind you, visibility was down to about a mile and a half at that point.

The bonus was hearing my CFI say that he felt that I was comfortably meeting the "inadvertent IMC" standards required of PPL applicants. I have a great respect for IR rated pilots, and if I can ever get my PPL, I'm going to go for the IR as soon as I pay off my PPL debts.

Plus, flying out of Class B BWI when the field is IFR is really quite different from when VFR. It was an honor to be in line for takeoff--after a SouthWest 737 (what else?), and before a British Airways 777. Damn, they look big from inside a 'hawk!

You wouldnt have been the guy shooting the ILS at FDK around 6:30 would you??

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No--I was back at BWI by 5:00. Why? Were you at FDK?