Instrument Checkride rollercoaster


Well-Known Member
Whew! Thank heaven that's over. This was one tough ride.

I finally passed the IR checkride this morning. Today's flight was actually just a re-test of the GPS approach. I passed everything else on September 13.

My ride on 9/13 was almost perfect. My oral lasted about 2 hours at the FBO and luckily I overprepared for it. We went through the regs, basic systems, wx, ATC, IAPs and the rest without a hitch. I showed the DE my cross country plan from Seattle-Boeing Field (BFI) to Portland-Troutdale. No problem. Once the oral was done, I got updated wx and preflighted the plane. We took off on a nice, sunny, clear afternoon headed for Everett-Paine Field (PAE).

At PAE, I did a hold over the VOR using a teardrop entry. There was no wind, so entering and establishing the hold was a snap. I was cleared out of the hold for a VOR approach to Rwy 16. The DE had me do that without gyros and I flew it better than I had the week before. The ILS came next - on the money. Here's where the problem began.

Out of the ILS, I went missed and reached altitude. ATC cleared me direct to the IAF waypoint for the GPS approach. I had already progammed the GPS approach into the box and pressed "Direct" to the IAF (ZAGIC intersection). The box sent me direct, but somehow unloaded the approach procedure from the screen (so, the direct track was pink-lighted and the appr track was not white-lighted). I had to reload the procedure while flying to the IAF. By the time I finished loading, I was less than 1 nm from ZAGIC. While reducing speed, turning to the next fix, and putting the aircraft in approach configuration, I quickly checked the plate and confused the IAF with the first letdown fix. I descended too early and was failed. Ouch. I was unhappy, but I kept my chin up and finished by flying some great steep turns and pulling out of unusual attitudes. I passed everything but the GPS/circle to land approach.

Lesson learned. If you don't have your stuff together before the IAF, then ask ATC for vectors out of the approach and correct the problem.

Today's GPS retest went well, except that the weather was terrible. Visibility jumped between 1/2 and 10 miles in fog, mist, low scattered clouds, and moderate rain. Wind gusted between 22-40 kts. at 3000 feet. In a C172 that can be a challenge. I did the GPS approach in to Tacoma Narrows and it went well, but some of it was white knuckles for a while. After leaving Tacoma, I was hastily vectored around for the ILS at Boeing with a consistent 25 kt wind directly perpendicular to the approach path, blowing right-to-left. I had to hold a 20 degree correction angle to stay on the localizer. Thankfully, I wasn't being retested on the ILS, so it was visual most of the way in.

So, I can finally, officially call myself an instrument rated private pilot. Now all I have to do is figure out how I am going to re-tell the story to my non-pilot girlfriend..."Baby, I'm talkin' 60 mph winds here and lightning flashing all around me!!!"
Congrats, of course! Now your real flying begins, and you can go almost anywhere anytime.

Overall, flying gets easier when you file IFR all the time, even when you get those vectors for traffic.

If you stay Seattle, you will get lots of opportunity to remain current, so have fun!
Cool! Now you'll never have to cancel because of weather!

If you don't have your stuff together before the IAF, then ask ATC for vectors out of the approach and correct the problem.

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Have to keep that in mind, I get the torture test next week!