Instrument Flying: Classroom, Week 1

What is a pilot with 7 type-ratings, who has flown for 35 years, doing in an instrument ground-school?

Answer: Learning.

Having been many years since I’ve danced with the general aviation community, I thought it would be a great time to go back to school and see what’s changed since I took my first instrument course – what feels like three lifetimes ago – since I plan on flying little planes on my days off.

My instructor is a retired Boeing engineer, who holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. He started flying in 1999, and has made a second career of flying and teaching in both the aircraft and the classroom. His understanding of systems, and ability to convey his wisdom, is an added plus.

If you are starting this journey of instrument training yourself, you have your work cut out for you. But the first time you fly in solid IMC, and shoot the ILS down to minimums, breaking out of the abyss and seeing those lights for the first time – an amazing moment – you’ll know it will all be worth it.

Human factors was a focus on day one. Did you know that 75% of general aviation accidents occur due to pilot error? It’s all about the attitude. Five attitudes associated, and attributing to pilot error, include:

  1. Anti-authority
  2. Impulsivity
  3. Invulnerability
  4. Macho
  5. Resignation

What type of personality do you have? Visit this FAA website , scroll down the list to “Web Current AC by Number,: then page forward to item #60-22: Aeronautical Decision Making, select chapter 1-3, and take the test. It’s quite interesting. The questions will be difficult because you’ll be thinking, “I wouldn’t do that!” But for the sake of the test, if you did… what would be the reason?

Knowing yourself will be one way to stay out of trouble.

Something new in the instrument training since I took my class, years ago, was the introduction of SRM: Single Pilot Resource Management. Nice. We’ve been developing and using the CRM, Crew Resource Management, for years in the major airlines. Pilots should use all their resources, inside and outside the flight deck. But equally as important (and part of SRM) is organization, especially when you’re a single pilot. You don’t want pens falling, charts flying, and approach plates sliding between you and the seat while you’re in instrument conditions. If you’ll ever experience disorientation and vertigo in a plane, abrupt head movements in instrument conditions will get things tumbling inviting confusion. Trust your instruments?but verify.

Best tip to learning instruments… imagine that each question, and each problem in the test bank, will one day happen to you. If you can personalize it, your chance of remembering will be far more likely.

Fly safe and enjoy the Journey!

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