Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Back Seat Flyer

I am flying with another instrument student and yesterday I was in the backseat to watch him fly with our instructor.  I was due to fly after that, more on that later.  Flying in the backseat is very helpful by giving the opportunity to watch someone else.  You are able to see what works and what might be improved.   We were just doing practice approaches into KOKV (Winchester, VA) from KJYO (Leesburg, VA).  It also gave me the opportunity to spend more time looking at ForeFlight on my iPad in flight rather that just using it for approach plate reference.   Being able to listen to someone else on the radio is also beneficial because you get to critique their comms flow compared to your own.  The flight went well but the backseat is a bit tight for someone my height (I have to sit almost sideways).  We were in IMC at 900 feet and then on top at 3,000 so we had a pretty good no visibility experience for the climb and descent phases.  One of the key things I was aware of was the PIC making CTAF calls for OKV using IFR terms (DME, ILS and waypoints) for position which would make no sense to a VFR pilot in the same area.  When you are listening to someone else do that and watching your position on the sectional (using ForeFlight) you realize how confusing that might be to a non-instrument rated pilot.  We had weather approaching from the west so once we scooted back home I had the plane topped off and did the preflight to fly the same set of approaches.  Unfortunately, when we got to the run-up area there were 5 planes ahead of us and all were on instrument flight plans.  Potomac said that it might be 30 minutes or so before they got to us so we sat and debated and finally decided that kind of delay combined with the incoming weather would be a bad thing so we gave up and taxied back.  That was pretty disappointing because I really wanted the IMC time and to practice improving on some of the mistakes that I saw.   I am looking forward to the opportunity to be out in no vis conditions again in the near future.