After my long solo cross country, I am now in check ride prep mode and the home stretch is in site. I still have some simulated instrument time to take care of but we are handling that while sharpening my skills for the practical test.
I had a weeks worth of flights canceled due to some weather issues. Today, however, turned out to be a great day. My primary instructor is away for a much needed vacation overseas, so I am utilizing some of our other amazing instructors to help me get ready. Today I rode with one of my favorites, he helped me get the hang of stalls before my solo. He has a ton of experience and I love just talking to the guy.
Since I need 2.2 hours of simulated instrument, today was all about the simulated instrument work. As soon as I took off from runway 21 at TTA and turned on course for the practice area, I put on the hood. A hood is a little different from the foggles that I have used in the past, this thing looks like you strapped a dog cone to your forehead. It is a little unwieldy but it did the job.
We started off with some simple turns as I ascended to 3000 ft msl. Then I did some radial tracking off of the LIB VOR. Next we moved on to a couple of stalls. I have never done stalls under the hood. Weird sensation.
Each time that I was asked to make a turn or perform a maneuver, I asked if I was cleared. Tried to get in the habit of clearing turns or asking for clearance before each maneuver. You can fail a check ride quickly by failing to do this.
After a few more turns, I hear “I have the flight controls, why don’t you go ahead and close your eyes for a bit.” I figured this was unusual attitudes. I haven’t done these yet so it was a good experience. I did a couple attempts where my instructor took the controls and had me close my eyes. Next, I was asked to close my eyes and make some blind turns.
Next, my instructor asked me to perform some steep turns. That was wild. I am so used to site picture when performing a steep turn, so with just instruments, I could really feel the G forces in the turn. Especially when I started to lose a little altitude and pulled back to regain. It was a really cool experience and I nailed it! If you have been following my progress, you know that steep turns have been my Achilles heal.
After the maneuvers, we moved on to some turns and descents. I realized pretty quickly that he was vectoring me to runway. After a few turns and a few altitude step downs, he said “Ok, take off the hood and land”. I was setup perfectly on Base for runway 22 at Siler City. He asked me to perform a slip to landing and I nailed it with a sweet touch down.
As soon as we departed runway 22, once again I was asked to put on the hood as we ascended through 500 ft. Once I turned on course, he said “Vacuum failure” and put a piece of paper over the attitude indicator and directional gyro. I was now using the wing leveler (which runs on electricity so you have the backup for a vacuum failure), and the compass. This is the first time I have had to deal with losing instruments but I think I handled it well.
I could tell that we were headed back towards TTA when my instructor went searching through his pockets, “I’ve got this toy here somewhere”. After a few minutes it was revealed as he slapped a black circle over top of my airspeed indicator. Now I was running on a compass, altimeter, vertical speed indicator, and wing leveler. As it turned out, it wasn’t too big of a deal. I knew the engine rpms for cruise, decent, etc.
While performing a few more turns then I hear, “go ahead and take off the hood and land”. We were setup about 3 miles west of the airfield (TTA) at 2000 ft MSL. I proceeded to fly over the airfield and descend turn into downwind for runway 21 at TTA. I preformed another slip to landing since I was a little high. It was a weird experience flying and landing with no airspeed indicator but was great practice for if/when that situation arrives.
All in all, I think I did quite well considering it has been, literally, months since I have worked on just maneuvers. And oh yeah, I nailed both landings, greasy! I had a lot of fun and got to fly! What could be better?
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