Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Re-learning Old Lessons and Falling Behind the Airplane

I had a partial panel instrument flying lesson in the RedBird FMX simulator today.  As usual this was an opportunity to learn in that I made a few mistakes that blossomed into what would have been trouble had I been in IMC flight conditions.  The first mistake was in entering the flight plan in that I did not enter the entire route that was given to me by clearance delivery.  The route included VORs and victor airways.  I intended to enter the victor airway using the G1000 “load airways” menu selection but that does not appear to exist in the RedBird (unfortunately).  Doing it this way is preferable to just putting in VORs in that you are able to go direct to the airway at any time.  When I could not find the load airways selection while entering the flight plan I did not correctly enter the rest of the plan which affected me later.   I was doing very well after departure and while in the climb my instructor failed the AHRS (which caused me to lose heading and other indications on the G1000).  I then went to my backup instruments (compass, standby altimeter and airspeed indicator) and promptly forgot to tell ATC of my problem.  I was intending to continue with the flight when my instructor reminded me that we should return to KMRB (Martinsburg).  I notified them and was directed to start turning for the return with the approach being VOR-A.  Unfortunately, my first real mistake was then setting the GPS for direct to KMRB (the airport) rather than MRB  (the VOR).  I then flew right to the airport and started the procedure turn when my instructor asked me what I was doing.  I looked at the MFD and “duh” came to mind.  Once I got set up to actually go to the VOR and then start the procedure turn I made my next mistake which was just as bad.  I did a teardrop entry, started the timer (for one minute on the outbound leg) and then proceeded to turn for one minute rather than turn to the outbound intercept heading and then fly for one minute.  The result of this comedy of errors was that I did a 180 (turn for one minute) and now I was completely dorked up.  These sorts of mistakes are useful in that I learn to recognize the potential for them and hopefully not repeat them in the future but they are still aggravating.  When I finally got straightened out I continued on the approach and dropped out of the clouds just above the minimums.  That lead to my next mistake in that this was a circling approach (the approach course is not lined directly up with the runway) but I could actually have made a straight in approach by turning a little to the right.  Instead I flew down the downwind to land in the other direction.  The primary cause of this was not reviewing the approach and runways in advance so I was not familiar with the sight picture when I dropped out of the clouds.  It also took me a few moments to realize where the runway actually was vs taxiways and the closed runway.  The key to all of these problems is preparation in advance (both prior to the flight and in setting up the flight plan).  Not performing the above correctly led to falling behind the aircraft making it hard to catch up.  All in all another useful lesson but it would have been nice to have performed a bit better.