Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Instrument Flight in Actual IMC Adventure

Hurricane Irene caused a number of issues as it moved up the Atlantic coast and I got to participate (a little).  I had an instrument training flight scheduled for that morning (Sat) and it looked like the weather was going to hold off just enough to get it in.  Once we got up (KJYO-KOKV-KJYO) the G1000 weather page showed that we were going to get rain but no CB for long enough to do a couple of approaches at KOKV.  We went into IMC at less than 2,000 feet and stayed in it the entire time (with cruise at 5,000).  We could see occasional lightning in the distance which was pretty neat.  It got much more interesting when we lost comms with the Potomac TRACON.  We had a total of 4 outages I think probably totaling 10 minutes of lost comms.  I got to listen to heavies approaching IAD make calls and get no reply so it was a real world lesson in those procedures.  Now that I have experienced that I think that I could handle it in a solo situation with much more confidence.  I did ok on the approaches but could have done better.   One lesson I (re)learned was that if you are off course after the IAF (drifting right or left) it will distract you trying to get back on which will then contribute to your being behind the airplane a bit as you get to the FAF.  I have to get better at being rigidly on course and staying there so that I can stay ahead of the events.  In general I did ok and I was pretty happy with my reaction to both the weather and TRACON comms issues.  On one of the comms losses when they came back they were clearly busy getting everything straightened out again so I just kept on with my last direction with an occasional call to check-in.   I used ForeFlight on my iPad for the enter flight and the geo-referenced view of where I was on the approach was helpful.  As usual, every flight is a learning experience.