Instrument flying is safest when variables such as ATC, the pilot’s skill and weather conditions are all managed by the pilot, maintaining positive control and situational awareness. Below are a series of abnormal situations. How would you handle them? Would they be emergencies?
Let’s start with the basics. In the cool season the North Pole is pointed away from the sun. As the polar regions lose solar heating and the days shorten, the atmosphere cools significantly, and we see a huge semi-permanent polar air mass covering much of Canada and northern Russia. Parts of it break off regularly as frontal systems and polar highs. The large expansion of the cold air mass boots the jet stream out of Canada, pushing it down into the United States.
Are you up for this after a few months of visual approaches? You’re current, comfortable with the aircraft, and familiar with the airport, so you don’t see any problems. Besides, it’s time to launch and that low stuff is sure to start burning off by the time you get there as “P6SM and “SCT015” are forecast an hour after your arrival. In fact, you don’t even need to look for an alternate now to meet 14 CFR §91.169 (b)(2) as the ceiling and visibility are expected to be better than 2000 feet and 3 SM at that time.
But, if you are going VFR, deciding if you want flight following should definitely be on your list. If you’re going to pass through Class Bravo airspace you might as well; it’s virtually a requirement. Otherwise, if the weather is “clear and a million,” you’re not going through any airspace requiring you to talk to ATC, and you’ve decided to go VFR, should you consider flight following? Long story short, and after all factors are considered, the answer is “Yes.”
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This sim challenge is inspired by our good friends over at PilotEdge. PilotEdge provides live ATC services for flight simulation. You will be on your simulator, but a real human controller vectors you through virtual airspace with the correct phraseology and skill. There’s no pause button and no spawuming your aircraft on 10-mile final. You start cold and dark on the ramp and need to use the radios to get a clearance, permission to taxi, and so on. It adds a significant element of realism and authenticity to your simulated flight.
Teardrops are pretty rare (See “Driving All Night,” October 2017.) and permit aircraft to reverse course and lose a significant amount of altitude within a defined area (these are often found at military or joint-use airports). These are entered at the initial fix, proceeding outbound on the defined radial, and initiating a turn inbound at the defined point or distance. Think of it as a conventional procedure turn, but usually much larger and with explicitly defined segments.
I recently learned of a facility I’d not previously known. Aircraft Simulator Training in Santa Rosa, CA, advertises in my type-club magazine and I decided to give them a try. Due to some date confusion on my part, I thought I was beginning this process with a couple months of flexibility. In reality, I had a couple weeks. In e-mail discussions I was impressed with the approach that Aircraft Simulator Training took, but we just couldn’t get the schedule to work. So, I looked elsewhere.