Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.


Cell Encounterpoint

The answer given in question 2 of the quiz in your November 2018 issue (continue to fly straight through the storm) is incorrect. Fifty years ago I wrote and published the initial research papers on transmitting weather information into the cockpit after almost losing my life due to a thunderstorm. As a nationally recognized aviation radar/weather spokesperson, I continue to educate and update pilots around the country as the program progresses. The history of the Datalink program is best presented by AOPA’s video on YouTube. Search for “datalink concept to cockpit.”

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Ceiling and Visibility

These early pilots depended on a network of rotating beacon towers at four-mile intervals, like lighthouses in the sky. These facilities, operated by the federal government, used lamps powered by cylinders of acetylene. Simply by following the route from beacon to beacon, a pilot could arrive safely at the destination. Weather could be avoided because the planes flew at low altitudes, and illuminated diversion airfields were placed at frequent intervals. If the pilot felt things were deteriorating, he could be on the ground in less than 10 minutes.

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Depart Midway, Again

Our February 2018 clinic (“Chicago’s Scenic Route”) discussing a particular procedure at Chicago Midway International led to some reader mail about what should happen. The Midway Three departure for Runways 4L and 4R, if interpreted on its face, would have indeed involved extra maneuvering just after takeoff, as we discussed. It has since been noted that this DP calls for a more logical sequence of steps to make it work. So we went back to take another look at the Midway Three along with the other DPs published there. The charts have since been updated a little to clarify when, where, and how high to go.

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Logging vs. Being PIC

You are an instrument-rated private pilot. Your friend is working on the rating and you have acted as her safety pilot while she practices under the hood. She’s doing great. Today ceilings are high but below final approach fix altitudes. You feel comfortable filing IFR as pilot in command while she flies, so you file and off you go in the club’s 172. No hood for your friend today. She does all the flying. Two approaches, with 12 minutes in actual instrument conditions. She did well.

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Overlay Approaches

Let’s connect some dots. In 1969, NARCO (now defunct) introduced the CLC-60 VORTAC Offset Control Panel that allowed navigation to a phantom fix defined as a distance and direction (“rho-theta”) from an existing VORTAC. It was touted as the first RNAV system. In the 80’s, Bendix/King’s KNS-80 Integrated Navigation System might be considered the first practical RNAV navigator (it had VOR, LOC, DME, RNAV, and GS). Like the CLC-60, it could electronically “move” a VORTAC and was IFR certified.

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Exploring Every Angle

When faced with less-than-ideal circumstances, departing a non-towered airport can demand patience and creativity. And maybe a little luck...

What happens if you depart on the original IFR squawk? In a word: confusion. While, you are technically VFR—you voided your clearance by departing VFR—ATC’s radar doesn’t know that. It’ll still detect that IFR squawk and tag you up on the scope as if you were on that IFR clearance. An unexpected IFR target popping up amidst their other IFR traffic is a real distraction to a controller, especially if it’s an aircraft who was expected to hold for release.

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Readback: March 2019

The answer to Question 5 in your December Quiz says, “Circling approaches require left-hand turns unless the approach procedure explicitly states otherwise.” Is this still a true statement when the runway you’re landing on is published right traffic? I’ve found that the AC and the regs don’t address this clearly. I believe that the intent is that the required direction of turns is in accordance with the published traffic pattern (absent requirements to the contrary on the approach procedure), but I’ve been unable to get a satisfactory answer.

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On The Air: March 2019

I fired the flight attendant. And the ticket agent. Pick your own seat. Pour your own glass of wine. There’s no ramp guy either. So you won’t see him/her throw your bag into the cart from 20 feet and miss while you watch helplessly from your seat wondering if that nice bottle of red wine has now made all your clothes red.

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Old Friends

Look around the ramp and in hangars at almost any GA airport in the country, and you’ll find some amazing aircraft. You’ll also find some once-amazing aircraft that have been neglected and nearly abandoned for years, rendering them useless place holders. Sadly, one of those in the latter group belongs to my wife and me. (It’s a Beechcraft Skipper we got for my wife to fly after we invested in the Cessna 340 I’ve talked so much about.)

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ifr magazine

Download the Full March 2019 Issue PDF

After recounting some of his adventures as a military pilot, he went on to say, “Anyway, during all of this time I always wondered what happened to her. Losing track of her was like losing track of an old friend. I hope she is well. Perhaps by now she has forgiven if not forgotten the times I ran her a little too rich or too lean, smacked that branch with her wingtip, or disparaged her tail number by having it reported to the authorities.

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