How good or bad were you in early instrument training?

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by 455 Bravo Uniform, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    I’m starting to get a little bummed.

    I have 15.7 hours of hood time (including 3.5 PP) and 12 instrument flight lessons in the books. I feel like I’m below average in my progress.

    The last 2 lessons were VOR and localizer holds.

    Here are my suckage points:

    *Altitude - every flight I seem to have 2 or 3 episodes where a change in configuration gets me out of trim, and then I get fixated on a task/disctracted and I’m 100 ft off, sometimes as bad as 200.

    *Holding - easy to get distracted and “forget” to start my turn.

    We end most flights with an approach-
    *I got below glide slope by half scale 2 flights ago.
    *Heading - once or twice I’ll get distracted and lose track of the localizer by about half scale.

    And now my VFR landings are starting to suck because I’m used to being on final at 90 kts IFR, vs my VFR 70 and 60 on short final. Just more discouraging on top of the IFR suck.

    My CFI tries to be encouraging, but he’s also noted that I need to be getting my altitudes nailed at this point.

    I’m hard on myself. But I want to really know where I stand. Can’t get a good read. My CFI teaches younger students who are going from PPL to CFI. That’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact that might explain if I suck or if I’m being compared to young natural “sticks”.

    If it makes a difference, I’m always flying needles, without my GPS map page on, except when on GPS approaches.
     
  2. Walboy

    Walboy Cleared for Takeoff

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    Sounds like you're doing fine to me. Keep at it.
     
  3. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    1. Everyone progresses at their own pace. Where you “should be” is only relevant if you’re racing somebody else.

    2. Since your CFI teaches “younger students”, I’ll assume you’re “older”. ;) It actually makes a difference in how fast we learn. A 40-year-old will take twice as long to learn something new as a 20-year-old. A 60-year-old, three times as long.
     
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  4. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I kind of felt the same way last year. As you practice more each task requires less concentration and you will slowly integrate everything together with improved multitasking. It also took me some time to get used to my “setup” which was a G1000 for me. Use all of your informational resources as you fly. For example, I looked at both my CDI on the HSI and the projected track on the moving map during approaches. Only once my horizontal navigation was good during approaches did my CFII take away my moving map to help me improve further. Start with all the help and situational awareness you can muster (ForeFlight?), learn your routines until you barely need to think, then start peeling the assistance away to become a reliable expert.
     
  5. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    how's this for timing?
     
  6. smv

    smv Line Up and Wait

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    As was said, the rest of your problems are normal for someone with 15 hours hood time.

    This I have to question, however:

    Your MAP/DH should be far enough out and high enough that you should have plenty of time be able to slow down to normal landing speeds and make a normal approach to landing. If not, then you should be circling to land. You do not state what kind airplane you are flying, but the transition from 90kts to white arc at the missed approach point (assuming you are carrying the approach all the way to the end) should not be that much. Power back, white arc, full flaps, pitch and power to maintain proper airspeed and glide path, land. Done. :)
     
  7. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    I’m flying steam gauges. CFI doesn’t want ForeFlight or moving map at this stage, will bring it in later.
     
  8. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Nice! Thanks.
     
  9. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    182. White arc starts at 95. I’m at 200 agl when the foggles come off and 90 kts.

    VFR I’ve been 80 on downwind, turning final at 70, and short final 60.

    My last dozen landings have been instrument approaches, until today, which was VFR. I forgot how to land slow.
     
  10. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Have you done pitch and power exercises? Pattern A and B?
     
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  11. smv

    smv Line Up and Wait

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    Maybe it is the transition you need to practice...? Go out on a VFR day and beat up the pattern. Hold 90kts until you are 200' above the runway (simulating breaking out at minimums on an ILS) and practice transitioning to a "normal" approach from there. By the time you get that far, you should already have at least the first notch of flaps set. Should not be but a thing to dump the rest of the flaps and slow down to your "normal" approach and landing speeds.
     
  12. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  13. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Yes, those were the first 2 lessons, then we did them partial panel a couple lessons.

    Thank you everyone. I’m just gonna relax about it, and keep trying.
     
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  14. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Yeah, 53. Old hard-drive, low RAM.
     
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  15. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Sounds like you need some encouragement. You're already better than Jerry. Does that help?
     
  16. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    Pattern A and B exercises are what drilled smooth transitions into my brain, but that was 30 years ago, not sure anyone does those anymore.

    Sent from my SM-N970U using Tapatalk
     
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  17. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Dunno if anyone else has done this. My training was in the days of NDBs and I just could not visualize my position. Ask me to intercept a bearing to and I floundered. Intercept a bearing from was impossible. To make matters worse, my CFII was the kind of guy who could be beamed to a random point in space from the Enterprise and would know where he was within 2 seconds. He could not find an easy solution.

    Anyway, one evening it was so bad, I took off the hood, turned to Andre, said, "your airplane," and let go. He was kind, "I know you are working hard at this. Let's call it a day. Just fly us home." I looked at him. "Maybe you didn't hear me. I said, 'YOUR AIRPLANE'," and folded my arms. Andre flew us home.

    If I made it through, you can too.

    A suggestion or two to discuss with you instructor.

    Are you talking out loud? are you verbalizing both the current heading/course/altitude and what comes next? Not everyone, but for most it focuses attention and helps catch deviations early.

    The other thing I see often, even during IPCs, is the "Willy nilly scan." Flitting from instrument to instrument without really seeing it. Take the time to see it and, again, verbalize such things as "needle 1 degree right. Correcting 3 degrees left to center."
     
  18. snglecoil

    snglecoil Pre-Flight

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    Don’t feel bad about the landings. By the time I took my check ride, my landings had gotten so bad the DPE said had I not flown everything else so cleanly, she would have failed me on the landing ....and then assured me that most instrument students struggle. Don’t worry the landings come back pretty.
     
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  19. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    Wait till you get some IMC time!!

    i did mine in a 182. I have a trim tab on yoke which can make trim corrections easier.
    I have a feeling you are quick scanning. Seeing it going sideways and not taking action. You see that you are off take corrective action. I used to do the same thing and as mentioned above- I learned to announce it out loud.
    Regarding course corrections- don’t fly to the needle. Fly headings. Use your heading bug- correct flying the sides of the bug. If you can’t correct then move the bug.
     
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  20. Larry Vrooman

    Larry Vrooman Pre-Flight

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    I'm in agreement with your instructor. Learn to fly IFR without GPS and moving map displays and get those skills down solid. Then and only then learn how to integrate those (non essential) items later. If you don't learn the basics first, and learn to develop and maintain orientation and the big picture in your head first, you'll never develop the ability to do it later.

    I'm probably a bit of a fossil as I got my instrument rating in 1992, back when ILS, VOR and NDB approaches were pretty much it. Moving map displays existed but they were not common, and the GPS approach was a concept still in its infancy. Flying with an HSI was a luxury for most single engine GA IFR pilots. Conversely, flying a partial panel NDB approach was no big deal - just another thing you needed to do to pass a check ride.

    The advantage of learning to fly instruments in that era was that you absolutely had to develop the ability to orient yourself relative to the airport, various nav aids and fixes. Once you develop that ability it allows you to devote a lot more of your bandwidth to flying the aircraft with precision, your instrument scan, and flying the actual approach with precision.

    The instrument rating is also about learning to fly the aircraft with precision. Once you attain that rating you will forever lose the ability to fly with non instrument rated pilots and not be at least slightly irritated when they can't keep the ball centered, or hold a heading and altitude with precision.

    ----

    Coming back to aviation after a long absence, I've noted that GPS, RNAV and moving map displays in general have not really reduced the workload in the cockpit - IFR or VFR.

    On the VFR side, what I am seeing are a large percentage of pilots who are not competent at pilotage or dead reckoning, and who spend a lot more time with their heads down in the cockpit messing with programming the GPS, rather than flying the plane or watching for traffic. ADS-B in and out has the potential to make that exponentially worse, as pilots come to rely on it and start thinking (incorrectly) that basically every aircraft has it and/or that it will work 100% of the time.

    I also suspect if you turn the GPS off, fly 10-15 miles from the airport, maneuver for 20-30 minute and then ask the pilot to fly back to the airport, you'll get a blank stare from most Private pilots because they have never had a need to maintain a mental picture of their orientation to the airport in their head. That skill directly relates to flying IFR, so those pilots start out with a significant deficit relative to pilots 20-30 years ago.

    On the IFR side, I'm seeing the same lack of DR and mental orientation skills. Modern pilots use GPS and moving map displays to keep them on track and more often than not never develop the same intuitive level of understanding of their orientation over the ground, nor the same ability to mentally calculate the strength and direction of the wind and correct accordingly. In short, they've become overly reliant on GPS and moving map displays.

    Worse, those cockpit aids have not reduced the overall workload or division of attention that is required, it's just changed some of the tasks and where their attention must now be divided.
     
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  21. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Thanks for coddling me, lol.
     
  22. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Thanks again for your input. It’s helpful.

    My irritation is with my lack of precision and losing concentration in the scan. I can tend to fixate or ignore an instrument. I’ll fix that.

    Knowing my location on earth is pretty decent, I can keep track of where I was/am/will be.

    Funny story about IMC. My 6th flight I think it was. Ceilings 300-400. Chance to experience actual. We filed for an airport about 15 minutes away. We took off. Maintained RWY hdg. Climbing to 3000 no level offs. Tower tells us to switch to departure. Did so. I handled the radio calls up to that point, thought I was decent (I learned PPL at a busy Class D). But with all the focus and concentration in the light turbulence, I had absolutely zero idea what the departure controller told me to do, lol. I just know that he said something and it was to me. I told my CFI to tell me what to do and take the radios from then on. I was sweating the whole time! Insane, I thought.
     
  23. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It doesn’t click until it does. Keep on plugging!
     
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  24. Eric Brunelle

    Eric Brunelle Pre-Flight

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    You just have to keep practicing to develop muscle memory for IFR procedures. I got mine in 2000, and spent many hours with my old MS Flight simulator. Better to get those muscle memory hours for free rather than paying.

    The IFR scan is something that Is counter intuitive to your VFR flying. Eyes are in the cockpit rather outside. Good luck - practice, practice, practice!
     
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  25. smv

    smv Line Up and Wait

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    I had a Private student who's 'day job' was as a B-52 Navigator Instructor. This is exactly what happened. Not only could he not figure out which direction was the airport, he could not tell me in which general direction was north.

    o_O
     
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  26. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Cleared for Takeoff

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    I fought holding altitude and and keeping my scan up right to the point that it “clicked”.

    Once it did - it REALLY clicked. And it will for you.
     
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  27. snglecoil

    snglecoil Pre-Flight

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    Honestly, the home sim played a huge role in building my instrument scan. I initially starting working on instruments back in the early 2000s. As what I now realize was a barely competent VFR pilot, I was...well... an awful instrument pilot.

    I ended up taking 17 years off from flying, but started using a sim as a way to stay at least mentally connected as best I could. Specifically, I worked really hard on getting that instrument scan down. By the time I got back in an actual plane last year and restarted instrument training, that scan was second nature. That’s really where sim time can pay off big time.
     
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  28. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    I'd be lying if I said I haven't been called front and center to the wooden desk in my company grade officer days over making fun of navigators in that very community. Brings back some good memories. I also learned the value of not broadcasting the joke over main intercom while the sq/do is onboard who happened to be one of these two left penciled magoos. Ah who am I kidding, I didn't learn a damned thing about that, it was worth it. Lol. Damn I miss being an O2, though I don't miss being broke as an O2.
     
  29. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I did pattern A and B during my training like 7 years ago. My flight school still teaches it.
     
  30. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I was awful during instrument training. I could hold heading then lose my altitude. I could hold altitude and heading then lose the course. I didn't think I would ever get it all together and almost gave up. Then a instructor change and almost starting again from the beginning and it finally started coming together.

    Don't worry too much about landings. I busted my first IFR checkride but we went ahead and did the rest of the ride. On the reride all I had to do was the NDB approach. We did that successfully and then back to the airport for a visual landing. I had not done a visual landing in a while and was afraid I would bust an IFR checkride on a visual landing...:lol::lol:
     
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  31. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    I sucked. Flat out. It’s a brand new skill.

    Some random thoughts:

    Ball juggling. Tossing people into juggling multiple balls isn’t how to teach juggling. See if your CFII will do a few minutes of him or her handling everything except one instrument. You focus like hell on that one thing and hold the needle absolutely still. Then switch to something else. Don’t overdo this but make sure you can force a trend back to wheee you want it on each without thinking.

    Visual scan aid. Ask your CFII to be a metronome. Hold an object and point to the instrument you should be scanning next. Click, click, click, click. Most errors are errors of omission of an instrument or slow scan. If you see it, you’ll fix it, easily even... but you linger too long in one place. Having a pointer makes you keep moving your eyes.

    The instructor can also show you when it’s okay to linger... like once you’re established on a precision approach, a little extension of time on the OBS is okay but you still have to scan altitude, airspeed... but trimmed and on power setting the airspeed won’t change as fast as the crossed needles of the OBS.

    Once you get the click track going in your head, then it’s just practice. Even distractions can’t stop the rhythm. I’m wildly bouncy conditions sometimes all you can do is keep nudging the needles toward a better trend continuously as they go all over the damn place. LOL.

    Which leads to ...

    Precision. Don’t let a needle be off even a little bit. If it’s dead smooth and you’re off altitude by 10’, make it move back. This gives a feel for tiny trends vs huge ones and how much you need to move controls to correct the entire range of possible movements. Are you miles out on the localizer? Different technique than when it’s tighter and you’re in close.

    Timing. Along with the click track of moving eyes, add another step. A pause that asks “What has to be done next?” If you’re asking this every time around the scan you’ll usually be way way ahead of the aircraft. Next turn, next config change, next next next. Sometimes the answer goes “turn in one minute”... scan/fix... “turn in 45 seconds”... scan/fix... you get the idea.

    At first it’s a serious workout and feels like forcing everything all the time. You’ll get mentally tired fast. With practice the brain moves some of the stuff into the unconscious and offloads the conscious brain to think about the “next” question more.

    And lots of people hit a point where it’s just utterly frustrating and even angering to keep up. That’s usually because the brain hasn’t decided yet to move those items into subconscious skills yet at that point. Once it does you feel more like you’re just monitoring your own brain as an autopilot at the conscious level, seeing if it’s making mistakes but starting to trust it.

    You’re doing fine. 15 hours to master something new isn’t common with anything. How well did you do other complex motor skills activities at 15 hours?

    Just make sure the training is effective and get that rhythm going.

    By the way. Later with more hours doing it you’ll feel your brain and eyeballs “zooming out” the camera and your field of vision will return. You’ll notice you can see two or three instruments and their trends at the same time. Your brain can then orchestrate control inputs to fix them simultaneously.

    But that comes after the building blocks of fixing them one at a time, then fixing them to a fixed pattern, then altering the pattern slightly depending on urgency of any particular instrument in the current phase of flight... and THEN doing them combined.

    It’s similar to athletic training. Learn the stroke or the throw mechanics first. Then learn how hard to hit or throw... etc.

    Have fun. Frustration is just your conscious brain not wanting to let go yet to the subconscious. Let it be frustrated. You’ll have moments where you think you’ve got it nailed and a distraction will derail the whole train. If you stop to get angry you’ll miss three opportunities to put the train back on the rails. The click track never stops until you’re VMC. :)
     
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  32. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Oh forgot. Yes your landings often go to crap during instrument training. Just keep them safe and under control including crosswind correction to full deflection during deceleration and you can fix all the little stuff later. LOL.

    You may even find that afterward you get all nervous landing anywhere before the touchdown zone markers. Haha. Pretty common.

    “Land on the numbers?! No! We will all diiiiiieeeee!” Lol. ;)
     
  33. SToL

    SToL Line Up and Wait

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    Scan... scan... scan...

    When you catch yourself looking at any instrument,

    scan... scan... scan...

    Never stop scanning.
     
  34. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm not a CFII and of course his CFII can decide and/or work with him on the method of instruction, but I do have a concern with this philosophy based on my experience learning this stuff. The old-fashioned way before moving map displays, HSIs, and the like DOES mean you have to get all of these items down pat before you graduate. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the old-fashioned way is the fastest, most effective, or most efficient way to achieve the high level of performance we all should want. My reasoning for suggesting using all available informational resources for early training, particularly for approaches (including procedure turns and pattern entries) is that early on, there are too many new things to simultaneously worry about to effectively learn. I recall being overwhelmed trying to get better at flying precisely while trying new things like entering the holding pattern or following the approach procedure. If I could somewhat reduce the number of new or challenging things I needed to focus on at once, I could actually work to improve on those few things. For example, the first time I attempted a pattern entry from a random direction, the G1000 (any IFR GPS unit could probably stand in for this) told me what heading to turn to, even though a good instruments pilot should be able to figure it all out in their head or by looking at an instrument like their heading indicator. It felt a bit like cheating, but it was actually good because I was working on other things at that time like getting through the time/turn/twist etc checklist and managing simulated comms while maintaining my altitude and position more precisely than I was previously used to. If I had started trying to figure out what is the correct heading to turn to leading into that that particular moment I would have dropped all the spinning plates on the floor and learned very little. I knew how to determine the correct heading, but I didn't have time to worry about it with everything else, and since I let the GPS unit help me a bit I got some good practice with the other skills and tasks. Later on after I've proven I'm pretty good at pattern entries with the assistance of the GPS unit, it's time to cover up the GPS and rely on other methods of navigation to do the pattern entry.

    It's like how the instructor took care of comms during my first couple of primary lessons and let me focus on airplane control. If the student gets too overwhelmed his or her learning slow down. This is probably doubly true for an older pilot. One thing we need to be careful about is you don't want to learn to do something the wrong way then have to relearn it the correct way. Still, I'm a big believer in starting on easy mode and then progressing on hard mode. Starting with hard mode is some folks' preference, and that's okay, but it doesn't work well in a discussion about concerns with learning too slowly.
     
  35. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    ACS is 3/4 deflection, so you're already good. Keep the alt inside +/- 100 and you're set. :D
     
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  36. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    I don’t know the right answer, but maybe a related comparison is how you learn full panel first, then go to partial panel a few flights later. In that order obviously to practice a non-routine but possible adverse condition (vac failure).

    What I’m doing I guess is the modern day equivalent of learning partial panel first, then full panel (no GPS, then GPS).

    Interesting.
     
  37. farangutan

    farangutan Filing Flight Plan

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    Shortly after I got my instrument rating, I moved across the country and went to get checked out to rent from the local FBO. I also had dull VFR and landing skills. Fortunately it came back quick, but it was a little surprising. I recommend taking the opportunity to be a safety pilot for someone else while you train for your instrument or every few lessons take a break to fly without the foggles. I didn't, it was head down all the time for a few dozen hours, switching back to VFR you have to adjust to flying with the eyes outside again.
     
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  38. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

    Joined:
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    steingar
    There are two types of IFR pilot. There are the ones who start out with lots of suckage in IFR training, getting behind the airplane and having a hard time. And there are ones who lie about it. Fly the airplane, play with radios. Good luck.
     
    Ghery, woodchucker, Zeldman and 4 others like this.
  39. Doug Reid

    Doug Reid Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
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    Doug Reid
    What Steingar said !

    If you bought your first guitar, no one would expect you to play "Free Bird" after one lesson :).
     
  40. Pugs

    Pugs Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2018
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    Pugs
    All true - the one thing I wish my instructor had let me do earlier was program the FMS for the approaches. Given I flew several different rentals with different set-ups the buttonology was all different and I was not as proficient as I wanted.
     
    Skyrys62 likes this.