Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Updates on Flying

My instrument instructor paired me up with another instrument student recently which has been a significant benefit to my training.  We typically fly together around once a week and then with our instructor on the weekends.  One will fly and the other will ride along in the back seat giving the other an opportunity to observe.  The back seat view allows you to critique what the other is doing and take notes.  I have found that when I am flying I do not always remember everything that I did that was good/bad (generally only the “big” things).  Recent weather has also let us fly in actual IMC (instrument meteorological conditions).   Watching someone else work the radios, navigate and set up the GPS all while flying at the same time is very instructional and I recommend it. Yesterday, I flew as PF (pilot flying) with the other student acting as PNF (pilot not flying, i.e. safety pilot) with the plan being KJYO-JASEN-KFRR-PLA W45-MOL-KSHD-JASEN-KJYO (Leesburg, Front Royal overflight, practice low approach to Luray Caverns, Montebello VOR and then a landing at Shenandoah.  Unfortunately the approaching hurricane made the weather iffy with the ceilings being the real concern.  As we passed Front Royal the clouds were around 4-5,000 feet and we needed to get up a ways for the trip on to Shenandoah.  I was maneuvering around a bit to avoid them (we are not instrument rated yet so limited to VFR) and we realized that we were running the risk of either getting stuck at KSHD or else even worse getting forced into IMC.  I elected to turn around and land at W45 (Luray) using the RNAV (GPS) RWY 22 approach.  This went pretty well and the landing was not bad at all.  Given the approaching weather (from the south east) we did not stay long and shortly back taxied to depart on runway 4 (to the north).  The Potomac TRACON was very accommodating and vectored us to the STILL intersection for the the ILS 17.  The approach went well and this time I actually flew the plane all the way to the parking space rather than just flying to short final previously where I doh’d the landing.  Of course this time there was no one watching my landing where the last time there was a crowd of people at KJYO looking at the B-17 (Aluminum Overcast) that was there.  All in all a good couple of weeks.  I feel like I am making real progress on my instrument training. I have been using ForeFlight on my iPad for planning, filing and in-flight and am completely satisfied with it.  I also upgraded recently to the FF Pro version where you get a geo-referenced approach plate and airport diagram ability.  This is probably not really necessary for the casual pilot like me but I do like being able to see how well I am doing on the actual approach plate so if you can afford it I think it is a good idea. btw, I will soon start uploading pictures of my flying and put a link to a permanent archive.  Some shots have been pretty good.