Anyone ever use a Ground-controlled Approach?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by kicktireslightfires, Mar 23, 2021.

  1. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    More than just practice. They have 'currency' requirements. Navy was 5 a week, or maybe that was a month. @Velocity173 ?
     
  2. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Sounds reasonable. Regardless of the reason it was hella fun.
     
  3. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Of course, no one does a practice GCA/PAR for the pilot's proficiency. Its for the controller's proficiency. Way back in the last century, I was flying a Medical Evac helo from a field on the China Sea. A bit primitive, steel mat runway, etc. A new outfit showed up one day. A GCA in one of those trailer deals. The controllers were very junior enlisted guys right out of school. It was obvious that we pilots had to cultivate them and get them up to speed. We requested practice PAR's at every chance. Controller errors were constant. They were learning. It was severe VFR. So what. We would need them some day.
    We were returning home once just after sun set. Monsoon season and lots of t'storms. We were in the clag. I mean deep in it. Descended to 300' over the China Sea and could not see the surface. The fishing boats at sea each had a lantern on their masts and that was all that was visible through the driving rain. No lights at all over land. I heard it called a "Texas t...d floater". Or a "frog strangler." The other problem, the coastal plain varied from 1 to 5 to 10 miles wide, then the mountains rose from 3,000 to 7,000. Near our area, some mountains started at the shore. Had to stay over those lanterns. But there was a powerful NDB a mile and half off RW 25. MDA was over 2,000'. I dont know why so high. You know the bad news. The ADF needle was spinning like crazy in all the lightning.
    Time to call for our friends in the GCA hut. No answer. I called tower and said that I REALY needed those guys. Tower replied that the GCA got hit by lightning and the crew had to leave the cab because of all the smoke. Of course it was inop.
    They say that even a blind hog sometimes finds an acorn. I lucked out during my 300' wanderings over the sea and made a land fall near a familiar landmark. Low crawled home and it was not pretty.
    Its odd to remember the GCA's that never happened. There was another GCA 9 years latter that I did not do and I remember it well also.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
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  4. bluesky74656

    bluesky74656 Line Up and Wait

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    My IFR instructor had me do one at the local ANG base. The controller learned that day that a little guy like me needs a lot more wind correction than a C130.
     
  5. kep5niner

    kep5niner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My last two tours had GCAs, and SOP dictated that upon RTB, we execute GCAs for their training, not so much ours (UH-60). They're good approaches, and can get you down. However, we did get to know the controllers' voices, and every now and again, when you got "that one," you knew it would be a wild ride. I distinctly remember one approach, where - following their guidance - I was over the threshold at 2,000'. Damn near had to auto to make the runway.
     
  6. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Navy / Marine 10 a month but 5 had to be “lives.” The other 5 could be sims. We called them “bugs” for some reason. Army / AF, I forgot but I think they have similar requirements.
     
  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep. At 2,000 AGl on a PAR, you won’t even show up on radar. One of the reasons why I always had ILS up as back up if we were IMC...if available.
     
  8. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I was rethinking how I said that and deleted it, seems just as you were replying. But yeah, mis ID’s ain’t funny
     
  9. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    A good PAR controller can tell pretty much right away when somebody is flying the ILS. I had an A10 pilot buddy of mine who would always ask for no gyro as soon as he figured out it was me. He thought he was making things difficult. I never told him that no gyros were easier since I didn’t have to remember the last heading I put him on
     
  10. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I never gave a pilot a 360, well 357 or whatever. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.:confused2: Anyway, the Navy uses ‘2 left, 3 right etc’ when doing CATCC(carrier air traffic control) at sea.
     
  11. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    We do a lot of PARs in my community (only land based precision approach we have), and so I'm a bit of a connoisseur. With that being said, on those VFR or MVFR days when I can see how bad the approach is getting, I always try to hold the actual heading that was given to me.....rather than just correcting back to centerline based on seeing the runway. Obviously in close, I will correct in time to actually land safely, but I have always thought it was negative training for a controller to have the helping hand of a pilot who is ignoring them because they can see the runway. I'd prefer those guys and gals to know how to read the scope and make reasonable corrections when it is hard IMC in a rainstorm and I can no longer help. As you know, shifting strong winds at random altitudes can really pose a challenge. I see a lot of folks that are either too afraid to call for an aggressive heading change in strong winds, or they have a case of dyslexia. Out of curiosity, do you see an aircraft that is left of course, on the right side of your PAR display?
     
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  12. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Controller couldn’t see if you were actually left or right. They’re inside just lookin at the scope. That being said, the Radar is pretty darn accurate. Where I worked it was procedure for trainees to say “final controller in training” hopefully so a pilot would ‘participate’ exactly as you described. About the shifting strong winds thang, yeah, that can catch you off guard. I relieved a Controller once and he said at about 3 miles, they’ll start drifting right, give em 10 degrees as soon as you see it. He’d just had an Approach that almost got away from him
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
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  13. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    Oh sorry I meant if the controller sees something that makes him obliged to say, for example, "come left heading 040" (for say, RWY 5) does that mean that on his scope he sees me as having deviated left or right of center (from his perspective)? I ask because I have had a few instances where the exact wrong direction of turn/correction was repeatedly given through successive heading corrections, which pushed me further off course, in a couple instances to a full deviation/limits resulting in them directing a missed approach. Only know this to have been their error rather than mine because 1) I had a GPS accurate moving map and radar designation of the end of the runway with a magnetic course line drawn through it for FAC/RWY mag hdg, and 2) it was VMC so I let it happen as described above. I've also only experienced this at NAS Oceana, of all the places I've flown PARs, for some reason.........unknown what that reason is.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
  14. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I used to do the same thing in the Army. Nice day, you can see the runway and the controller is taking us to BFE. Copilot asks “should I turn towards the runway?” I always had them follow their instructions. The RFC isn’t going to learn much if the pilot was cheating.

    When I did ATC I used to think the F-18s cheated and flew the HUD approach. Navy / Marine fighters were always the best PARs but Hornets were the best. Rock solid and predicable. You could have a train of them, all min sep (3 miles), all right on course / glide path doing the exact same GS. In some cases such as NBC, all three final controllers working Hornets at once with no abnormal deviations on final. Helos sucked. Sadly, the Army being the worst but I cut them some slack knowing what they’re working with.

    As far left of course being right? No. Left of course is left of course. Wish they had a target in this pic but you can see the course line and the range (1 mile increments) here. Target moves from right to left. You’ll see some new RFCs turn their chairs left and even til their heads left to help with orientation. But an aircraft on here will show up as a blip. If they’re left of course the target will be left. One time I had a pilot get confused when I called “well left of course and correcting, turn left heading 050.” He came back with “well if I’m well left of course, why are you turning me left???” Obviously he was confused with the whole “correcting” part. ;)
    0FD6C733-E9D1-4BED-8982-6A1D53772E3A.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
  15. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  16. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Would this happen when you were first being turned to get established on final? Or closer in after having been established on final and begun your descent? If during the turn on there could have been some confusion among the controllers as to which Runway you were going to. The 5’s are pretty close, looks like just 700’ between center lines.
     
  17. jnmeade

    jnmeade Cleared for Takeoff

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    Used to practice ASR at Joe Foss Field, KFSD and also at Rochester, MN, KRST. Did an actual in IMC to RWY 2 at KRST about 15 years ago.
     
  18. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    KPSM does PAR and ASR. Fun approaches to do.
     
  19. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have flown hundreds of PAR approaches. The key is doing exactly what the controller asks for and not try to second guess the controller. You need to nail the assigned headings and the VSI needs to be perfect. Good controllers can get you down in near zero zero conditions.
    The interesting PAR’s were the Italians. “Ghost 52 you a looking real fine, don’t a touch nothing! Ah Ghost 52 you go a little low, you a touch something”!
    The hornet could nail a PAR because it was the first aircraft with a accurate velocity vector in the hud. Drop the Velocity vector down 3 degrees and you would nail the glide slope. It also had very easy and large scale heading display in the hud. Trying to fly a PAR off a 3” RDMI and 2” VSI was much more difficult.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
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  20. ebetancourt

    ebetancourt Line Up and Wait

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    I don't think anyone has mentioned that the reason the military is big on radar approaches is that they can be set up quickly when and where needed. Someone above mentioned arriving in a trailer. Way faster than an ILS to setup. Probably not so critical nowadays, assuming your GPS won't get jammed.
     
  21. Witmo

    Witmo Pattern Altitude

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    Getting back to the original post's premise that a VFR pilot who finds himself in clouds or above clouds will find salvation in a controller talking him down--it don't work that way except maybe in the movies. This is especially true considering that few VFR pilots actually have ever flown a GCA or any apprach from beginning to end. A controller is not going to make a VFR only pilot a proficient instrument pilot in an emergency. He's not going to teach you how to scan the instruments and move the controls to affect a change in descent rate or capture a course and stay on it while maintaining a glide slope. GCAs were developed to obviate the need for nav radios on the ground and in the airplane--if you had comm and the GCA radar was working you, could fly the approach. Flew many PARs and ASRs in the military because we could never know if the ground based nav aid or our onboard equipment would be working during war time. We even practiced Airborne Instrument Landing Approaches where the WSO coupled the attack radar to the main ADI pitch and roll steering bars, and the pilot flew what looked for all purposes like an ILS but was actually a computer generated glide slope based on the WSO aiming the radar cursors at the runway touchdown zone. Bases usually had radar reflectors abeam the td zone to aid cursor placement. The pilot could flip a single switch to go from ILS to AILA and compare the two. AILAs were only an emergency backup when there was nothing else available to get down through the clag and land.
     
  22. Rick182

    Rick182 Pre-Flight

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    Where can I find a list of where these approaches are available?
     
  23. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Dual use fields with ANG and civilian are a good place to start looking. I did a few ASRs at KFSD / Sioux Falls. As mentioned, they need to do X number of them to stay current, so if you call ahead they can make sure that the controller who needs a few is not on a break when you show up. One time, while I was on the second one, they asked whether I could do a third. With every iteration, the delivery from the controller became more fluid. Either he hadn't done one in a while, or they used it for training.
     
  24. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    No, was talking about well established on final. You could be onto something with your parallel RWY hypothesis. Wish I could remember if this was during one of the periods in that timeframe where they only had one runway with a PAR, which could shed some light.

    And yeah @Velocity173 I think @Jeff767 pretty much nailed why Hornets were tighter PAR flyers. It's just so easy. Also we fly on-speed as soon as we dirty up, so most jets will be very similar/same speed on final assuming they were in the same flight and burned a similar amount of fuel. This would probably account for why they had such regular interval and maintained it. Although I'd like to tell you were are just better pilots then those other lame fighters :p
     
  25. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    Page N-1 of the TPP for the region you're in. See post #15.
     
  26. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    [​IMG]

    Here is a depiction of a typical scope. The top solid line is the glide path and the dotted line beneath it is the safety curser. The bottom line is the azimuth. The vertical lines are mileage from touchdown with the 5 and 10 highlighted. They're highlighted because that is where the PAR controller hits either an amber (10 miles) or green light (at 5 miles) that lets the tower know where the aircraft is. The amber light flashes in the tower and the local controller will steady the light to allow the aircraft to continue and also to tell the PAR controller the sequence which the PAR controller will pass on to the aircraft. At the five mile mark the tower controller will steady the green light and tell the PAR controller the landing clearance. If the runway is fouled or the required separation isn't met, the tower will flash a red light to the PAR controller and tell them to go around and other instructions. In the above, the aircraft is the raw radar return shown at ~10 3/4 miles from touchdown on glide path and well right of course. There are no bread crumbs depicted which aids the controller in trend information. This isn't what it looks like in the real world. In the real world that far out, the top target would be well below the glide path. There would also be radar trails or bread crumbs depicted behind the forward target. Glide path information isn't even given to the aircraft until it intercepts that line upon which the PAR controller would inform the aircraft to begin descent. On small aircraft such as a T-38 the target is a lot smaller and faster. On a larger aircraft such as a B-52, sometimes we'd get two targets because the radar would paint the tail as well.
     
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  27. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I may be drifting off course. Ever looked at a USAF F-105 and wondered what that thingy on the nose wheel was for? I was told that the 105 had a bit of stealth quality when heading towards a radar. They put a radar reflector on the nose wheel so that the PAR radar could see it head on.

    This happened one weekend at Lawson AAF on a very VMC day. One of our pilots was in a UH-1H upgraded with a glide slope receiver for his VOR/LOC. There was a newby GCA/PAR controller assigned. They were solicitating practice approaches for her benefit. Paul made it down to the MAP. (There was also an ILS on that RW) He made a hover turn and then flew the ILS upwards and backwards. I heard of BC LOC's, but a BC ILS? When she got her composure, an ANG Phantom out of Birmingham showed up and flew the procedure at 400 + KTS.
     
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  28. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Lol. He shoulda hung the 180 out there a few miles. It’d have been great if she’d a called his bluff so to speak and calmly just on glidepath’d and oncourse’d his azz right back on up.
     
  29. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well whether it be at home or on deployment, the military likes options. That’s why they still keep PARs around.

    Deployable PAR systems aren’t all created equal. The branches have historically used different systems and setup varies by service and type. Our (USMC) portable ILS system (TPN-30) that I used, took less time than setting up the PAR. It doesn’t matter which system you’re using anyway, the site has a cutoff of when they’re supposed to be operational based on everything working. After that, everything is flight checked either by the FAA or military flight check prior to going “live.”

    This new system the AF has in particular sounds pretty darn portable and reliable.

    https://armadainternational.com/2018/07/the-united-states-air-force-relies-on-thales-d-ils/
     
  30. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Nah, I did one as a student pilot at the Fort Bragg flying club on Simmons Army Airfield. About 5 miles out, my CFI said "put on the hood and do what the controller tells you." When he told me to take the hood off, we were on short final a few hundred feet above the numbers. This was a long time ago, 1993 to be exact, but I recall that it was not particularly stressful or difficult. In fact it was considerably easier than a regular approach because you did not need to Navigate, and the only Communications required were readbacks.
     
  31. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Little FYI in how the controller determines glide path position. Same thing is used on course.

    0A24C05E-6747-4F66-829D-D7E848E75D38.jpeg
     
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