Learning to fly, but I ain't got wings

Month: June 2020

The Mighty Mooney M20J Checkout Part 2

So as part of my checkout on the Mighty Mooney I needed to complete an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC).

Let’s take a look at the basic requirements for an IPC. Good writeup at BoldMethod

  • Non-precision Approach
  • Precision Approach
  • Missed Approach
  • Circling Approach
  • Partial Panel Approach
  • Recovery From Unusual Attitudes
  • Intercepting and Tracking
  • Holding

I completed “Recovery from Unusual Attitudes” in the previous lesson, The Mighty Mooney M20J Checkout Part 1.

The Plan:

This particular flight was all about the approaches.  Today was a great day for it as the cloud deck was hovering around 700 msl at the time of departure and not looking like much lifting for the next few hours.

So I filed IFR round robin to KSCR.  KTTA -> KSCR -> KTTA.  The plan was to fly the RNAV 22 at Siler city, go missed, then fly the ILS 3 Y at TTA with the course reversal, and finally the RNAV 21 LNAV with Partial panel down to circling.  This would take care of all of my requirements.

  • RNAV 22 (SCR) –  satisfied the Non-precision approach and missed
  • ILS 3 Y (TTA) – satisfied the Precision approach and hold
  • RNAV 21 (TTA) – satisfied the Partial Panel as well as the circling approach back to runway 3.

Intercepting and tracking was used during the whole process.

It was nice because we are hard IFR for most of the flight and all of the approaches.  I didn’t have to wear the foggles at all… yay!

Time to Execute the plan:

TTA does not have a tower so you have to call to get your clearance. The clearance issued a heading of 360 upon entering controlled airspace.  So that was the limit of my clearance.  Even though I filed TTA -> OCEKO -> KSCR -> TTA, I was given the curious cleared as filed but then fly heading 360.  It was an odd exchange but figured we would get our vector to OCEKO once in the air.  That wasn’t the first oddity during this flight.

After departure, I contacted Raleigh approach and once they confirmed my location was cleared direct OCEKO at 4000.  As we neared OCEKO, we hadn’t been given any instructions for the approach and once we hinted that we were a mile out… they quickly cleared us but handed us off to Greensboro Approach and told us to tell the other controller we were cleared.

I thought that was a bit weird.  In hindsight, should have prompted them a little earlier because it seems we weren’t on the same page for approach.  I requested the approach on the phone and technically it was the same person. Oh well, no harm.

Once we were over to Greensboro Approach, they re-affirmed the clearance and asked for our intentions.  “Requesting return to TTA for another approach, N5760R”.  We were expecting to get alternate missed instructions to setup for return to TTA but it never came.

On the missed, we informed approach that we are now flying the missed and received cleared direct TTA.  I then requested the ILS 3 Y full approach, full in order to do the required hold.  Approach responded, “I’ll hand you off in a few miles and you can give your request to the next controller”.

Switching frequency to Fayetteville approach, I requested the ILS 3 Y full approach and we were cleared direct IKTOW @3000.  Now here is the first altitude weirdness.  Right  before we reached IKTOW we were cleared for the approach. Then as we crossed and I was about to drop down to the segment altitude, we were asked to stay at 3000.  I’ve never gotten an approach clearance then and altitude restriction right after with no further instructions. My instructor thought i was odd as well. Oh well, once we were inbound, they cleared us down 2100 and we proceeded with the rest of the approach.

On inbound we were asked our intentions and I requested the RNAV 21 full approach.  This time, as expected, we were given alternate missed instructions of Climb 3000 to YUXI and a switch back to Raleigh Approach.

During the missed approach, we were vectored due to traffic and positioning us for the full RNAV 21 approach.

Raleigh approach cleared us for the RNAV 21 but stay @ 3000 until we reached the final approach.  At least this made more sense because we had the clearance and knew when the altitude restriction would expire.  My instructor commented on the many altitude restrictions on approach segments today.  Once established on the approach, I went partial panel and did the LNAV step-down for the RNAV 21 down to the circling minimums.  At this point we broke through the clouds and I circled around to runway 3 for the full stop landing and finishing the IPC.


Overall, I thought I did well on the IPC.  Flying a new plane, second flight. And not flying IFR in at least 6 months, I felt I did ok.  It wasn’t perfect.  I was behind the plane a bit but was able to get the weather, briefing etc done on time.  Still getting use to a few things:

  • Adjusting the MP (25) and Prop (25) during the climb.  I am too slow on this task and need to get that drilled into my head.
  • Switching tanks, not too bad but still a little behind.
  • Flow checks were better this time, I did the 7 steps much better but I was still scolded a few times.
  • Landings… just need a few more landings to be comfortable.

My instructor is awesome and he said I did well today.  He has a way of teaching you things in ways that stick and is very encouraging through the process.  I’ve heard horror stories of instructors that are constantly putting you down and taking all the enjoyment out of flying.  I am humbled by our clubs instructors in both their skill and their ability to teach at a high level.

Whats Next?

I still need a few landings to fully checkout in the Mooney and since I need to get more dual complex hours (6.6 hrs) for my Commercial, I am going to try to do the Day VFR Dual Cross country.  Might as well knock out more than one thing at a time!

My Chariot

The Mighty Mooney M20J Checkout Part 1

After a long hiatus, once again, I spread my wings and soared through the air. Hot and Humid air but air none the less.  Today was the first flight in the mighty Mooney M20J.  And it was strange but not for the reasons you may think…. or maybe you do.

I haven’t flown in quite a while.  The last time I slipped the bonds of earth was February 7, 2020.  Exactly 120 days between flights.  To be passenger current, you must log 3 landings in the last 90 days…. so way out of currency there. Also, our flying club rules state that if you haven’t flown in 90 days, you must be checkout out by a club flight instructor.

And ……  I am due for my flying club annual and need an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC).  So  as you can see, I am not current at a the moment.  The only thing that I have good right now is my medical… which is actually due for renewal in August.

So this new Airplane checkout is more than just checking out in a new aircraft.  Going to Knock out my 90 day currency, Aircraft Checkout, IPC, and club annual all in these flights.  It sounds like a lot but it is all pretty straight forward…. a club annual pretty much takes care of all of it, including the written test needed to checkout in a new bird.

However, it is strange because I am performing all of these checkout maneuvers in a new aircraft and pretty rusty after 120 days of not flying.  I have muscle memory for the Cessna aircraft but none really for the Mooney.  New flows, new checklists, more gadgets, new prop controls and landing gear that is not welded down.

To be honest though, thanks to my awesome flight instructor, it was really just like any other flight.  Other than mucking up my flow check a few times in the pattern, I felt I did pretty well all things considered.

So what did we cover in this flight?

  • Standard takeoff
  • Climb
  • Cruise
  • Descents
  • Steep Turns
  • Stall series
  • Autopilot
  • Leaning/Enriching strategies using the new onboard management systems
  • Short/Soft landings
  • Emergency procedures
  • And emergency manually lowering of the landing gear

… I’m sure there was more that I am not remembering at the moment.


My thoughts on the flight?  Like I said above, need to work on hammering the flow check into my head.  I feel like I am hanging just with the aircraft, not ahead or behind.  I need to get a little more ahead, I think that will come in the next lesson(s) with more IFR practice.  The landings went well, we performed 4 landings in total with flap variations. (half and full flaps)  Honestly, couldn’t tell how much my instructor helped on the controls. One thing that stands out is how heavy the controls are compared to the Cessna’s.  It seems to be the difference in pushrod connections versus cable connections.  I don’t think it’s a huge deal but different.

Overall, I felt like the aircraft was more stable in most phases of flight versus the Cessna’s.  Could have just been the conditions today but I felt like the steep turns, stalls, etc were much smoother.

I look forward to part 2 of the checkout process and the many more lessons that I will have in the mighty Mooney M20J.  For my commercial rating, I need 10 Dual hours in a complex or TAA aircraft.  1.9 are in the books, 8.1 to go!

Mooney M20J – N1068X

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