First time solo IMC - What was it like

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by WannFly, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. steviedeviant

    steviedeviant Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I know you may not be checking, but no negative comments here either. I am working on my instrument and there has been delay after delay. I have some IMC and have been very nervous about actual IMC flying on my own. Reading your comments and experience is very helpful. Thanks for sharing.




     
  2. john cronin

    john cronin Filing Flight Plan

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    I just love the Music transitions in this ifr video.....exactly how I felt the same time
     
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  3. Daz

    Daz Filing Flight Plan

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    I’ll tell you next week! I got my ticket in March 2020 and was promptly grounded due to the pandemic. Only just went up this week for the first time in 9 weeks. Had a second flight today and filed and flew and IFR flight plan for the first time. Had a good RNAV and ILS approach but a sucky landing due to rust. Will hopefully try to fly some day this week if I can find a a ceiling around 2000 feet.
     
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  4. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Agree with the others. That first solo IFR flight was nerve wracking. Like my first solo I still remember it. It was within a few weeks of passing my practical. 1500 overcast, no bumps, and solid to above 5000. I remember thinking this is cool! Now don’t screw up. I was under a class B and ATC vectored me around a bit. Passed the FAF and headed down. I broke out, saw the airport and was thinking this is so cool!
     
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  5. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    What all this tells me is that when expecting IMC, be ready to not get what you expected. Heck, flying VFR, it’s rarely exactly what I thought I’d get...why should IMC be any different, and likey to be even more variable. Good thread. I should get my rating in late July at this pace.

    If we think of METARs as extremely localized, look how sparse the data is. Then realizing TAFs are (1) just a forecast, and (2) just the surrounding few miles, it’s not only sparse but it’s an educated guess of future conditions of a dynamic and multi variable process. Limited data and contingent accuracy that we launch upon. I know you all know this, but it helps me to “talk” out loud. IR in training, a little over half my hours completed.
     
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  6. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

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    From an old thread about mine to Columbus, GA... long way from home in Reno, NV. I didn't get any actual during IFR training.

    Got out to KMDQ (Huntsville, AL) about 12:30 or so and got the car returned. I had called earlier to have them plug in the plane to take the chill off the engine. Loading up it was very cold... near freezing and 10-15kts of wind. I did pre-flight the pitot heat to make sure it got warm, and it was on for the takeoff and climb through the clouds.

    They have a funky "click four times and wait for a phone dial" system to get to Clearance Delivery. Right before we started preflight, a Meridian took off and called the bases about 1000 and tops about 2800 with no ice so we decided to go.

    I did a very careful runup and made triple sure everything was set including the AHRS horizon on both iPads delivered by the FS210. My wife is a student pilot so I don't really think of her as a passenger per se. I told her to keep a close eye on the AI and Altimeter. Just as the previous departure had, we broke out at 2800 into another layer and ATC put us at my requested 7000'. This was *right* at the top of the layer but I couldn't get 9K so we were in and out throughout the flight.

    About 30 miles out they dropped me to 4K thick in the soup and stayed there till the ILS for 06. They gave us an easy intercept far enough out to be very comfortable. I had my wife looking for a solid view of the runway (not fading in and out). I think we firmly broke out at 900 to 1000 and it was an easy landing from there with light wind.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
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  7. tsts4

    tsts4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Complete non-event for me I'm guessing because I had about 6 hrs of actual IMC during training. So when I encountered IMC for the first time after getting my rating, it didn't bother me in the least. YMMV....
     
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  8. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    This was posted waaay back, 2005, 2006? Anyway, my 1st actual after the ride:

    --------------------------------

    Due to various reasons (sore subject), I had never gotten any actual since my IR checkride (Dec 9th), and planes, weather, and schedules had conspired to prevent me from getting my wings wet solo. I had the Archer booked, and last night’s weather looked good to me: 2300 overcast and 7SM, with occasional rain showers reducing vis to 5SM, and temps at 3000 of about 55F. Looked good to me.


    I called my original II, and he would not go (no surprise). I called the club instructor, but he had another engagement, so I called Brent. We trained together and progressed together (with the same II) all the way to check ride. We even took our rides the same day. “I’ve trained many hours with you, you’re a safe pilot, and I trust you, lets go!”


    So, 6:30pm, in a light rain shower, we depart with a local IFR plan to shoot approaches. At 2000msl, we go into the soup, and it is indeed overcast. I know what everyone has said to expect on your first encounter with IMC, and I was waiting for it, but you really cannot describe it until you feel it. I cannot BELIEVE how badly my body was lying to me; I had the leans, and a little bit of dizziness. In addition, I see why some pilots kill the strobes and landing lights in the clouds, both of those bothered me, so I killed them while in the IMC.


    I worked hard to maintain altitude and heading, but initially the best I could do was +/- 100 on the altitude, and I kept chasing it up and down, up and down, enough so that Brent commented “What are we, a yo-yo?” Likewise, I had trouble holding heading better than +/- 10 degrees. Wheel, all that motion and the leans too…had to work hard.


    Got vectored downwind, and towards the end of that vector, I started to get things kind of under control, then we got vectors towards the inbound. Once established, I descended per plate to 2500, and flew to the FAF/OM, Right on cue, the GS was level right at the OM beacon, and we started down the GS. We broke out at 2000, but could not see the runway lights due to a light rain shower. At 2nm out, we got a visual on the runway, and continued down the approach.


    Although DH is 873, I went missed at 1000, and around we went again. Into the soup at 2000, I was much better at controlling the plane this time around. Due to lots of arriving jet traffic, approach sent us on a super long downwind, and then boxed us around towards the approach course. It seemed like we were flying forever, and it was solid IMC, with no ground contact whatsoever. Occasionally, we would see a faint glow from lights on the ground, other times it was absolutely 100% pitch black. Just those instruments and that eerie red and green glow at your wingtips. This time around, I nailed my altitudes and headings very well, and it started to feel like old home again. Just like I did at night on the foggles, just no foggles this time. The patter of rain against the windscreen came and went as we passed in and out of the showers.


    Once inbound, I again descend to 2500, and wait for the OM/GS. Once on the GS, we start down, and as we pass thru 2000, I tell Brent we should break out and let me know.


    1900

    1800, well, I guess not, and the altimeter continues to unwind…

    1700

    1600

    1500, we remind each other that DH is 873…

    1400

    1300

    1200, “I think I see the rabbit!” A few seconds later, poof, we are out, and there is the runway, right where we left it! Runway, Oh glorious runway! The altimeter reads 1100. I click on the landing lights and strobes.


    Tower asks our intentions, and we eagerly request a full stop. I crank in the last two notches of flaps, pull the power, and get us down to approach speed. Flair over the centerline, back, back, stall horn, back, back, and with the yoke full back, we thump softly to the rain soaked runway. Taxiing back, raindrops dance in the puddles.


    Shutdown and cleaned up, I was out for 1.2, almost all of it solid IMC. I had not intended my first IMC to be so aggressive (shooting an approach to 400ft at night), but it was a good lesson in how conditions can deteriorate further than forecast. When I filed, I did not list an alternate, because per 123 rule, the 2300 overcast and 5SM vis as worst did not require it. Now, not only would I require an alternate, but conditions were below alternate mins as well.


    By the time I got home, the next METAR showed conditions under mins, glad we called it quits.
     
  9. BryanAV8R

    BryanAV8R Pre-Flight

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    Scary. Yeah, went 141 training route, all the maneuvers, pattern a, pattern b, etc etc etc. XC training in actual with radios bumming out. Partial panel. The whole magilla. 98 on the written (in those days), checkride done in one.

    The first time you punch in and go on the gauges for 'real' without a CFII beside you, a fresh ticket in your wallet, and a smile on your face...well, it's a thrill. Till you realize that the successful outcome of the flight is SOLELY in YOUR HANDS and you swallow, take a deep, slow breath, and settle down to FLY THE PLANE.

    Mine was KSMQ-KORC in a PA28-140 back in '89. Not down to minimums, but, low enough that I asked for, and received vectors to the ILS at KORC. You see the REIL, and the thought that goes through your mind is "damn, this stuff works!!!!". Yup, it does. And you congratulate yourself on not pranging the ship, you're at the right airport, and you can use the plane again. A great flight, in my book. And you did it yourself. That can not be discounted.

    Good luck with your training.
     
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  10. Plano Pilot

    Plano Pilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    First time it hit me was when I dropped some people at the old Ruidso, NM airport in a C310K. The sun set on the way back to Dallas and I was in-between layers. I could see the lights, of towns, through the overcast on the way back and shot an ILS into Love, KDAL.
     
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  11. Bender Aviation

    Bender Aviation Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not instrument rated but...my 2nd or 3rd solo during ppl training I was climbing out of pattern altitude and I went inadvertent IMC into a cloud about 50-100 feet in thickness. I thought I could climb through a hole, but the 150hp 172 didn't have it in her. (I learned what a sucker hole was that day). I was out pretty quick, scared ****less and thankful to be alive. Landed and wiped my headset off covered in sweat even though it was a cold winter day. I didn't have any instrument training with my instructor yet, but had watched IFR flights from Youtube Instructors, so I knew the basics of an instrument scan. I kept the same pitch attitude and heading going as I knew I would be out of it quickly and any changes would be potentially disastrous at that point. I am much more attentive to ATIS now, and paying attention to the cloud layer just standing on ground before I fly, as well as better ADM like not shooting such small gaps in the clouds. Studying for instrument written now.
     
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  12. smv

    smv Pattern Altitude

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    My first was a 2.5 hour flight with 2.0 Actual in an old 182 with steam gauges and no GPS or autopilot. It was quite the workout both physically and mentally.
     
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  13. BrianNC

    BrianNC En-Route

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    That always cracks me up. :D
     
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  14. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I had a 7600 situation on my first solo IMC in a /U airplane.
     
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  15. masloki

    masloki Line Up and Wait

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    I am guessing there is more to the story? Did you reestablish comms or fly the flight plan?
     
  16. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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  17. farangutan

    farangutan Pre-Flight

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    My first solo IFR was the day after the checkride. IMC right after take off and after an hour into the flight started to build up rime ice very quickly. Ask for lower and a 180 turn back to base. Was my first icing encounter, and almost doubled the amount of actual IMC time.
    I will never forget the sound of ice melting and chunks breaking off and hitting the plane while flying. C172.
     
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  18. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A week or so after passing the checkride I deliberately sought some benign IMC, check a quick hop from KBED to KALB (ok, it wasn't that quick since I was in a cherokee 140), base of the cloud layer above 3000' MSL. It was uneventful, which is exactly what I was looking for and expecting.

    I like Taylor's recommendation in "Instrument Flying" to start out easy and don't go for the hard stuff until you have more experience.
     
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  19. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My instructor and I did 3.4 hours hard imc yesterday. It was my first real actual. We did 6 approaches and a hold. 3 of the 6 approaches were down to about 40’ above min. It was definitely intense! I couldn’t believe how close the runway was when we popped out! 2 of the 3 were 200’ AGL DA. I didn’t experience any disorientation, but I was really surprised how bright it was inside the clouds. Who would have thought you would need sunglasses while in IMC ? lol
     
  20. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    I also find it unbearably bright in IMC, especially near the tops. The one time I forgot to bring my sunglasses with me for an IFR trip, I thought i was going to go blind during climb out and descent. Won't make that mistake again. I now have a pair of gradient prescription wrap around sunglasses that prevent the cloud blindness but allow me to see the panel better in IMC.
     
  21. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    If the layers are thin then it can be bright, but I've flown in some pretty thick layers and bright is not a word I would use to describe it. But near the tops, I close my eyes for the last 10 seconds before popping out.
     
  22. ateamer

    ateamer Line Up and Wait

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    Anticlimactic. Daytime flight to Chino, IMC ahead so I picked up a popup clearance and was in the clouds until about 1,000 AGL on the ILS.

    It was IMC almost the whole way back. The wings started picking up ice at 6,000’ so I started a climb and told ATC I was going up to eight (tops were around seven), they cleared it and the rest of the way was easy-peasy. The ceilings were too low to safely clear terrain, so it was either climb to clear air or do a 180. Flew the VOR-DME arc at night to one mile as the marine layer had come in at home and was right at MDA.

    My CFII had prepared me very well. The whole flight felt routine, although I needed to understand more about predicting icing. I would have either filed for higher or taken a roundabout VFR route below the ceilings.
     
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  23. Piper18O

    Piper18O Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I went through my entire training and every hour was simulated under the hood. After I passed my checkride, I was really anxious to get into some actual conditions. My best friend had just passed his private and the two of us had been planning to go to Oshkosh. I filed IFR to our fuel stop on the way in Ottumwa, Iowa. It was my plane, and at the time, in order to stay current, you had to have 6 hours actual or simulated, and 6 approaches in the preceding 6 months. It had been 4 months since I passed my checkride. Oshkosh was about a 6 hour trip one way for us, and I had hoped to get my 6 hours under the hood between the flight out and the flight home, since I had a safety pilot. The forecast was for VFR the whole way, with only occasional scattered. I wouldn't get any actual, but no biggie, I thought. Well just like so often happens, the forecast was wrong. About 50 miles from Ottumwa, a widely scattered layer became a broken and then a solid overcast about 2000 ft. below us. I was pumped! Finally I was going to get to shoot an approach in actual conditions! The ASOS was reporting a ceiling of 400 ft. Fortunately Ottumwa had an ILS on runway 31. This was before GPS approaches really existed, for the most part, and I certainly wasn't IFR GPS equipped anyway. I did have a VFR GPS but did not have a moving map. I also did not have an autopilot. Chicago center vectored me, and when I was inbound, I took my foggles off and looked forward to my first time in the clouds! I was still outside the outer marker when I left glass smooth clear air and entered a sea of white and some light turbulence. I immediately felt the sensation that I was flying upside down, and was having a hard time trying to keep things stable. After about 15 or 20 seconds of this, I quickly grabbed the foggles and put them back on. Without the distraction of the clouds out my window, I quickly got things under control and stabilized. The foggles were what I was used to, and they just gave me a comfortable feeling when I had them on. From that point on, the whole approach went fine, and we broke out about 350 feet above the ground. I learned so much from that experience. I was fortunate that I managed to think clearly and not panic, but I can certainly see how a person could lose control pretty quickly. We got our fuel, filed another IFR flight plan that got us back above the clouds. I wore the foggles before I went in the clouds on the way up. The weather cleared long before we got to Oshkosh and we really enjoyed a great rest of the trip. My advice to anyone else working on their instrument since having that experience is to make sure you get some actual conditions under your belt with an instructor before you get caught like I did, without knowing what to expect.
     
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  24. SkylaneKY

    SkylaneKY Filing Flight Plan

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    Well come on, tell the story
     
  25. Nathan Miller

    Nathan Miller Pre-takeoff checklist

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  26. SkylaneKY

    SkylaneKY Filing Flight Plan

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    Where's your farm, I'm in LEX?
     
  27. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Important thing is to resist the temptation to leave instrument mode when you see a patch of clear sky or a glimpse of the ground. Very easy to get disoriented moving head around searching for VFR conditions.
    This is something you never had to worry about in simulated conditions.
     
  28. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    My first IMC was about a month after punching my ticket. Three hour flight KFOD to KINL through the Minneapolis Class B. Most of the trip was IMC but got about 0.5 of actual around MSP. MSP gave us a loop over the airport and downtown. Only got to see about half of it as we were in and out of the clouds but what we saw looked beautiful. Cleared up by the time we got to INL. Still have only shot a few approaches in actual during training. I plan on grabbing my CFI one of these days and try to get more actual.
     
  29. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I find it's actually easier in actual than in simulated instrument conditions. About the only thing that raises the stress level is knowing you can't rip off the foggles if it gets too much for you. On my first few flights, I only went where I knew there was a definite out (reasonable ceilings below, etc...).