Hopefully helpful writings of a career minded pilot, working through the ratings in a Part 61 school while still managing to eat and find time to sleep and work.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Building more actual instrument time

Today was yet another milestone - this time not marked by failure! I gained my first actual time in the airplane without an instructor present. Around Massachusetts today there were scattered showers, some bumps, but most importantly; not a lot of convection. Claire and I decided to head to KBAF - Barnes / Westfield Ma. as they have a nice little on field restaurant. I filed direct as I knew that with such a short flight (about 45 minutes in the air) I would get an amended clearance which would be largely radar vectors anyway. I'll never forget that feeling I got as I was just about to punch in the clouds. Pitot heat on - carburetor heat on momentarily. You're initial instinct is that you're careening at 150mph into a solid object, but that of course goes in the back of your mind with all the vestibular leans and spatial disorientation. Aware that these fair weather cumulus clouds contain some fair weather bumps, I applied pressure to both pedals and made sure my instrument scan was complete and rhythmic. And there it was - woosh - in the cloud, then almost immediately the rain starts picking up, which incidentally is very loud in a small airplane. I do a quick check of the outside air temperature, and look for any ice - all good. for about 30 minutes we were in and out of clouds and Claire got some great shots below.

Here's the plot to:

The way back was similar, only less actual. It was grey VFR, then went marginal, then just past Worcester we went into a particularly lighter grey, but very thick cloud. The rain was intense. It was also think enough where the wingtips were disappearing in the clouds - with a 35' wingspan that puts the visibility at about 12-13'! Somewhere in there the top of the windshield started leaking as well - a big drop soaked my brand new charts...i'm not complaining though.

I flew the vectors for and started the ILS11 back into KBED, but we broke out of a scattered layer at about 3500. A few minutes went by and I picked up the runway and canceled IFR. The controller was happy to do so as that meant he didn't have to vector all the pattern traffic around me anymore :)

Here's the plot back home:

And some photos by Claire, some using the retro camera app for Android. Next time I need to bring along the Mino HD to get some decent quality video:

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