Another post about how awesome it is to be instrument rated..

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by drummer4468, Sep 16, 2022.

  1. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    180

    Display name:
    drummer4468
    Hey all, just wanted to ramble on a bit about how worthwhile the instrument rating is IMHO. Both to hear myself type, and also maybe encourage some students slogging through the IR gauntlet.

    For all the endless hours of training in the summer heat, in a flying greenhouse, under foggles, with so many numbers and headings and instructions bouncing around my head I could taste them in my sweat...I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. To say it makes me a better all-around pilot and vastly opens my horizons is a huge understatement.

    It's hard to verbalize the feeling of putting all of those skills to real-world use to navigate confidently through the clouds, decending through the goo, and having a runway appear before me at/near minimums. The freedom of being able to fly on many of those days that would otherwise be no-go due to an overcast/broken layer hanging around. It really is a COMPLETELY different animal being in actual IMC rather than simulated.

    Had a nice benign IFR day a few days ago, so I hopped up to drill some holes, rack up some more time in actual, and a couple of approaches for currency. Decided to take my girlfriend with me; she loves flying and learning all she can about it(scored bigtime on that front). We've flown together quite a bit and she's a proficient enough passenger to ask all the interesting questions without being distracting, even on a "boring" flight with no "scenic" views. Makes it super fun to share this passion of mine.

    We launched into gray skies and climbed through the overcast layer. Man, I'll never get enough of breaking out into sunlight from a gloomy day below. We headed to a more coastal airport with lower ceilings and started the approach. AWOS reported 700' but I slid down the glideslope to about 400' (100' above mins) before picking up the approach lights. Confident as I am, it's such a warm fuzzy feeling seeing it all come together on a nice stable approach. And admit it, we all love when passenger amazement strokes our egos just a little, haha.

    Anywho, we went missed and headed back home. Climbed back up to 4000' and enjoyed another short cruise between layers. As we started descending back through the undercast, I got a kick out of letting her reach out the window and "touch the clouds", which somehow surprised her to feel that clouds were wet, lol.

    All the 30,000 hour guys/gals reading this are probably yawning, but to all you students still trudging through IR training: stick with it! The training was difficult and often discouraging for a lot of us! I'd say the majority! It's a whole lot of hard work, mental exhaustion, and frustration. I promise you're not the only one feeling behind the curve. But the silver lining is, once you build the skillset, it's so incredibly rewarding to use and build upon it further. Keep training and stay proficient!

    NOTE: I don't recommend bringing anyone who isn't accustomed to flying, into IMC; use your judgement. We're used to the bumps and waves, but spatial disorientation and no outside visuals can really make an otherwise enthusiastic passenger miserable in a hurry. And be safe! I joke about feeling like a sky god in front of my girlfriend, but want to emphasize that no amount of cool points ever should affect your ADM. Safety is nothing to screw around with, especially in the clouds. I've scrubbed plenty of "cool" plans for safety's sake. The confidence the IR has given me is amazing, but never take it for granted.
     
  2. Country Flier

    Country Flier Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2019
    Messages:
    559

    Display name:
    CFL
    It's that improved dispatch rate for me...making 95% of my intended flights during the summer/spring/fall, and 60% during the winter, vs VFR which was about 75% summer/spring/fall and 50% winter...it means we can plan weekend trips without too much worry about missing work Monday morning, or cancelling hotel reservations, etc.
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  3. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2013
    Messages:
    1,698

    Display name:
    Sluggo63
    Not quite 30k, but I've got a fair amount under my belt, and that moment where you break out on top after launching into wet, grey clouds and pop into bright blue skies never gets old.

    Great writeup!
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2022
    Pirate, drummer4468, 1000RR and 2 others like this.
  4. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    Messages:
    3,826
    Location:
    Illinois

    Display name:
    NRG
    I love having the instrument rating and say ditto to everything you said.
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  5. somorris

    somorris En-Route

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,618

    Display name:
    somorris
    Great write up, Drummer4468! An inspiration to all of us!
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  6. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    4,204

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    I swear that has been the case on nearly every actual approach I have ever done, always breaking out just above mins despite what the weather robot is reporting.
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  7. FancyG

    FancyG Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2020
    Messages:
    217
    Location:
    CSRA Georgia

    Display name:
    FancyG
    Can't wait to be one of the cool IR kids myself.
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  8. 40YearDream

    40YearDream Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2020
    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI

    Display name:
    40YearDream
    The encouragement is appreciated - right now the IR stuff feels like quite a 'slog', most of the time. Mentally I think I have a fairly good grasp of what I need to do - but to keep that blasted DG and altimeter where they're supposed to be, whilst simultaneously futzing with the GPS, looking for an approach plate, etc. - makes me wonder if I'll ever get there.

    On the other hand, during the one actual IMC experience with the instructor - that was really cool! Especially breaking out above the cloud layer !
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  9. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Messages:
    3,751
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ and Ensenada, Mexico

    Display name:
    rgbeard

    If it makes you feel any better - we've all been at the step you're in right now.

    Seems impossible.

    It's not. Trust us.
     
    Supereri, Jim K, WDD and 1 other person like this.
  10. Alien Mind

    Alien Mind Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2020
    Messages:
    48

    Display name:
    Alien Mind
    not 30,000 hours (just over a third..), but, without fail (!), every single time I pop out on top, I remember how much I love flying. That feeling never went away.
     
    Tarheelpilot and drummer4468 like this.
  11. Justin Brady

    Justin Brady Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2022
    Messages:
    143

    Display name:
    SONIC
    Appreciate the report!
    I too am currently slogging through the IFR training, bought a new plane so now I feel like I'm 5 steps back (new panel, new scan, different flight characteristics, faster etc)
    I apologized to my instructor after my first flight under the hood in the new plane it felt so ****ty to me, he said no worries practice makes perfect.
    Getting better every time.
     
  12. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    13,791
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    I'm thinking maybe a sticky for this one. Well done drummer.
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  13. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    180

    Display name:
    drummer4468
    Wow, glad this was so well-received! Thanks everyone. I’m happy my excitable blabbering encourages at least a few people haha
     
  14. WDD

    WDD En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Messages:
    3,780
    Location:
    Atlanta / KRYY

    Display name:
    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    Nice write up. I find that an off day now that I'm IFR rated and trained is a hundred times better flying than when I was having a great day (or so I thought) only being VFR rated.

    I'd also say there are easily 2 to 3 times the number of trips I can take now vs only VFR.

    BTW - Fixed the Thread Title for you. :)

    Another post about how awesome IFR Pilots are..
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  15. sarangan

    sarangan Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,617

    Display name:
    Andrew, CFI-I
    Great post! Enjoy the rating.
    About the 30,000 hr guys yawning, may be so, but don't assume that someone who flew big irons at FL 350 for two decades will be any better than you at handling single pilot IFR in a piston aircraft.
     
    drummer4468 likes this.
  16. jridge16

    jridge16 Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2021
    Messages:
    3

    Display name:
    jridge16
    Toying with eventually getting an IFR rating, but how do IFR currency requirements work? From the little I've heard, it seems it might be tough to stay current.
     
  17. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    180

    Display name:
    drummer4468
    DO IT! Maintaining currency takes a conscious effort, but it's really rather simple. In order to be current to fly IFR as PIC, you need to log 6 approaches in the previous 6 months, to include intercepting and tracking courses using electronic navigation equipment(the very basis of IFR), as well as holding procedures. I try to shoot at least 2-4 approaches per month, so I keep pretty sharp and rarely worry about currency. Keeping a pair of foggles in my flight bag comes in handy when flying with pilot friends :)

    There are three ways to accomplish this:
    1) File IFR and shoot approaches in IMC, either on your own or with an instructor. You need to be in IMC (flying solely by reference to the instruments) while established on the final approach segment, until at least passing the final approach fix, for it to count. Getting actual IMC time does get more difficult in the winter months depending on your location/climate though. Icing is not a bear you ever want to poke. The other three seasons usually make it much easier to find a nice calm day with IFR ceilings that meet your personal minima, and have at it.

    2) Go out and fly in VFR under the hood with a safety pilot(they do not need to be an instructor or even instrument rated, just need at least a PPL for that category and class of aircraft, and at least a third class medical). Their role is to look out for traffic and weather/clouds while you are under the hood/foggles, flying by instrument reference only. Using this method, you need to remain under the foggles all the way to minimums for an approach to count. This method is arguably easier because you aren't under the constraints of an IFR flight plan, but remember to maintain VFR at all times of course, whether you're current or not. Surprising how many people forget that. Make sure to put the safety pilot's full name in your logbook. Don't be afraid to dial up ATC and keep the radio chops polished, communication skills are crucial. They're almost always happy to accomodate VFR practice approaches

    3) Use a certified flight simulator (e.g. Redbird) to log the approaches. Many flight schools have these available at very affordable rental rates. Or you can buy your own if you feel so inclined. They're pricy but hey, it's pretty convenient being able to legally log approaches at home in your pajamas. You can't log the flight time itself, but the approaches count as long as it's an FAA-certified BATD/AATD

    If your 6-month currency lapses, you can't be PIC under IFR, but you have an additional 6 month grace period to find a safety pilot and go out in VFR with a hood/foggles to regain currency. It's a great idea to get with a CFII (or at least an instrument rated safety pilot) at this point, since if you're not current, you may be a little rusty in ways you don't realize.

    Lastly, failing all of the above and letting your currency lapse past that grace period, you'll just need to have an IPC(Instrument Proficiency Check) done with a CFII. Basically a flight review that's focused on instrument proficiency. A chunk of ground time to review your knowledge, and flight time to assess your practical skills. A few hours of instruction before this could be a big help.

    As a side note, simulators like Xplane and MSFS are great tools to help maintain proficiency. Can't log anything with them of course, but they're great for chair flying and keeping sharp on the procedural stuff.

    More importantly, remember that currency does not equal proficiency.
    Complacency kills in this world. Don't go out and shoot the same three easybreezy vectored ILS's twelve times in a row. Challenge yourself with different types of approaches. Simulate your GPS going black and letting the smoke out, leaving you with just VOR and LOC needles. Along with other instrument failures. Getting with a CFII now and then is a great idea regardless of currency needs.

    Have fun and always remember why you love flying!
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022
    somorris likes this.
  18. Randomskylane

    Randomskylane Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2021
    Messages:
    223

    Display name:
    Randomskylane
    “…Reach out the window…”

    Like the little one on the pilot side of a piper? I’m trying to picture this

    I opened the window in a 182 to clear smoke one time and was fortunate it didn’t break off
     
  19. Pugs

    Pugs Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2018
    Messages:
    1,188
    Location:
    Maryland

    Display name:
    Pugs
    On the Archer the low pressure on that side of the fuselage actually keeps it closed, you have to pry it open in flight.

    Concur with the OP. So worth it and I look at practice approaches on nice days as an opportunity to fly with a fellow pilot as SP to breakfast someplace.
     
  20. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    4,204

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    Maybe it felt that way, but pretty sure you can fly with the window open in a 182. I've done it before.
     
  21. guest user

    guest user Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2021
    Messages:
    117

    Display name:
    guest user
  22. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Messages:
    3,478
    Location:
    CMI

    Display name:
    Insert cool name here
    I've found ifr, particularly in & around imc, to be my favorite flying. The procedures and communication tickle my brain in a very specific way, and the views can't be beat.... when you're not actually inside a cloud. You really get the sensation of speed too as you pop into a cloud at 180mph. I usually can't help myself from saying "whoosh" as we do it.

    Going up and getting some sun when it's been overcast for a week can be a real mood enhancer. Flying an approach on a legit ifr day and breaking out in perfect alignment with the runway.... magical.

    1010739.jpg IMG_20211224_091331892_HDR.jpg
     
    texasclouds, MIFlyer and RDUPilot like this.
  23. Kenny Lee

    Kenny Lee Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2018
    Messages:
    100
    Location:
    West Tennessee

    Display name:
    Kenny Lee
    Great writeup. I agree with you entirely. 750 hour pilot here. Got my IFR ticket in January of this year. A great feeling to know if you plan a trip fairly confidant won’t need to cancel due to weather.

    More than once during training, I’d come home and tell the wife I’m quitting. I’m too stupid to grasp this. But by next morning I’d change my mind. I’m too bull headed to quit.

    I’ve remained current but found it difficult w/o the use of a safety pilot. It seems so many of the approaches just aren’t loggable.
     
  24. somorris

    somorris En-Route

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,618

    Display name:
    somorris
    At least for yours truly, staying current has always been a big hill to climb. Drummer4468 did a great job outlining the requirements, and thank you drummer4468 for taking the time to do that.
     
  25. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Messages:
    3,751
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ and Ensenada, Mexico

    Display name:
    rgbeard
    This morning was a great example.

    Today was supposed to be a nothing-notable VFR trip from Goodyear (GYR) to San Diego Brown (SDM). I was watching the overcast layer NOT burn off as usual.

    As I listened on LA Center I heard two different planes divert to Imperial valley locations due to the conditions.

    Easy-peasy IFR clearance given to me by Yuma and the VOR-A approach 300’ above minimums. We are on schedule for our weekend.
     
    MIFlyer, TCABM and drummer4468 like this.
  26. Jereme Carne

    Jereme Carne Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2021
    Messages:
    8

    Display name:
    JCarne
    Another thing that makes the instrument so magical is its usefulness for getting into complicated airspace. If I fly into Charlie or a bravo veil I’m filing. Recently got my instrument too and it’s so awesome to bust into complicated airspace like it’s not even there.
     
    TCABM, Pugs, Jim K and 1 other person like this.
  27. Country Flier

    Country Flier Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2019
    Messages:
    559

    Display name:
    CFL
    You beat me to it...I was coming back to this thread to make the same comment...also if you live next to Canada like me, with lots of Canada overflights, and you'll really see the value in IFR flight.
     
  28. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    180

    Display name:
    drummer4468
    Yep, you can fly with the windows open in a skyhawk. That said, I reached over and carefully opened it myself so she wouldn’t accidentally let it slam open and rip itself off.

    Truth! I filed IFR to get through NY bravo a few months ago!

    Exactly! Lets you sidestep most of the annoying little weather phenomenons that would otherwise trash your entire weekend schedule
     
  29. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    4,088

    Display name:
    mondtster
    I guess I’ll be the one to say it - the usefulness of an instrument rating is dependent on what kind of weather is common in the area you fly in and the type of aircraft you’re flying. Even though I have a well equipped, pressurized, FIKI aircraft available to use whenever I need to I still find it easier and often quicker to stay low and go VFR. I’ve flown all over the US and Canada and have had very little need for an instrument rating, for weather reasons. The rating is nice when dealing with the VIP TFRs.
     
  30. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    Messages:
    3,826
    Location:
    Illinois

    Display name:
    NRG
    Very true. I've used it a ton in the past year I've had it. Other people, not so much.
     
  31. WDD

    WDD En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Messages:
    3,780
    Location:
    Atlanta / KRYY

    Display name:
    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    Yes and No IMHO Even VFR flying can be improved by sharpening your skill of holding course and altitude tighter. Even VFR you still talk on the radio, and the IFR training helps with that as well.
     
  32. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,094
    Location:
    mass fla

    Display name:
    ron keating
    Always good to add another pilot to the IFR ranks. Next step is to work at setting your personal minimums.congrats and enjoy.
     
  33. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    4,088

    Display name:
    mondtster
    My point is, the instrument rating isn't the silver bullet everyone seems to think it is. It is a tool that can and should be used when appropriate but there are occasions where it is wholly inappropriate.
     
  34. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2018
    Messages:
    2,490
    Location:
    Bryan, Texas

    Display name:
    Mark
    Know what’s even cooler? Blastin through clouds/rain/ice pellets in sub zero temps with engine anti ice on climbing up to FL350 in a friggin jet. Even more exciting at night, wing light on, peeking out side window for ice buildup. Sorry, no pics.
     
    Rgbeard likes this.
  35. WDD

    WDD En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Messages:
    3,780
    Location:
    Atlanta / KRYY

    Display name:
    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    If you’re talking about always appropriate or not to file IFR, agree 100%. I was referring to the sharpened flying skills you pick up which is always appropriate whether IFR or VFR.

    And it is a silver bullet for further inflating a pilot’s ego, bragging rights, and humility…..:)
     
  36. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    180

    Display name:
    drummer4468
    Oh, I never intended to say that IR is a silver bullet or that it should be treated as such. Of course there are times when it is either appropriate or inappropriate to fly IFR. I wouldn't file just to be a cool kid in severe clear, nor would I use it to mess around with weather conditions I wouldn't otherwise fly in(aside from visibility obviously). But having the tool and knowing how to use it opens up tons of flying opportunities that were simply inaccessible as VFR-only.
     
    somorris and robin ardoin like this.
  37. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    180

    Display name:
    drummer4468
    .......maybe a litte bit of ego. lol. But it's usually quick to slap ya with a healthy dose of humility if you get carried away.
     
  38. Country Flier

    Country Flier Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2019
    Messages:
    559

    Display name:
    CFL
    Thunderstorms (with a VFR ceiling) are the best reason I know to NOT fly IFR...most other times I fly VFR is when I just want to be left alone...but most times I'm IFR, even during severe clear.
     
    Pirate likes this.
  39. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2019
    Messages:
    278
    Location:
    Florida

    Display name:
    1000RR
    Great write-up @drummer4468! I got my IR this past March and seem to file about 80-90% of the time. Me filing has less to do with weather and more to do with enjoying flying within "the system" coupled with the complex airspace around Florida where most of our flying happens. In fact, so far I haven't filed IFR solely due to weather. Prior to getting my IR, I would usually try and pick up FF and that always seemed hit n miss if they'd pick you up (workload permitting etc.). Orlando was 50/50 at best, similar with Jacksonville and Tampa. West Palm Beach always seemed to pick me up and I have had good luck with Ft. Meyers as well. Filing IFR, it takes all that out of the equation of whether or not I'll "get picked up". Plus my 23 yo daughter with Down's absolutely LOVES when we go cloud punching. She get's a kick of going in one side and out the other!
     
    Pirate, flyingpreacher and WDD like this.
  40. flyingpreacher

    flyingpreacher Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2021
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Williamsport, PA

    Display name:
    flyingpreacher
    Can’t agree more with you guys. I was coming back from a mostly VMC flight the other day and had cancelled IFR to do some T&Gs at a couple other local fields before heading back home. 10 miles out, I called up tower and advised them of my VFR intentions, to which they responded that they were marginal and deteriorating quickly. No problem. A quick call to NY center and I’m shooting an RNAV in hard actual, but with direct headwinds, so not difficult in a control sense. About 600’ AGL, the runway lights appear, and I’m right on glide slope. Such a good feeling to know that all the training paid off. And it was also great to realize that, like you guys have pointed out, I couldn’t have done that without my IRA.

    100% would recommend.
     
    somorris likes this.