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. Shes 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 clubs 172. No hood for your friend today. She does all the flying. Two approaches, with 12 minutes in actual instrument conditions. She did well.
Lets 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 80s, Bendix/Kings 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.
Look around the ramp and in hangars at almost any GA airport in the country, and youll find some amazing aircraft. Youll 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. (Its a Beechcraft Skipper we got for my wife to fly after we invested in the Cessna 340 Ive talked so much about.)
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-ATCs radar doesnt know that. Itll 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 its an aircraft who was expected to hold for release.
In the case of the departure, and from a certain perspective, I could call that report a requirement. The respective approach/center controller is required to verify your altitude anyway to make sure it is what they are seeing on their screens, just like the Tower controller is required to make sure you are squawking the right code before they switch you. As you continue your climb, and as annoying as it can be, the verification requests could continue on every new frequency, and certainly with each new facility. While your initial departure and the climb is where you will report leaving an altitude the most, what about when youre at cruise or even up in the flight levels?
You already have a transponder that transmits a dumb and blind signal in response to interrogation from other sources. Well, its not entirely dumb in that you can enter a four-digit base-eight (no 8s or 9s) code on the instrument and when the transponder responds to an interrogation, it puts that code and even your present altitude (to the nearest 100 feet) onto its outgoing signal. ADS-B Out keeps that but takes it a bit further.
Another good rule of thumb is Buys Bullots law: To locate where the bad weather is coming from, put your back to the wind and extend your left arm straight out. Thats where the low pressure bad WX is coming from. It works for me.
Yep, its time to make fun of those who in 2015 ignored sound judgment and lived to garner pilot lounge derision. And, since pilots tend to repeat the same mistakes in hopes of different results, we heed George Orwell who said, We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. Since no intelligent man or woman stepped forward, its up to me.
Unless youre under age 30 or live in a remote village in Mongolia, youve likely heard the 1971 Don McLean song American Pie, in which the events on the night of February 2-3, 1959 are recalled. That night, three of Americas top rock musicians died in a tragic aviation accident in Iowa. The accident is ingrained in American culture. I cant think of a better example of an accident worth researching for lessons to learn.
Some time ago we published a letter from a pilot who complained that ATC regularly vectored her toward mountains that rise over 4000 feet just 11 miles southwest of KAVL in Asheville, NC. Her single-engine airplane would wind up level with the ridgetops. Requests for a safer southerly route around the mountains were always denied. Upon request, ATC would vector her on course once they realized she was flirting with cumulogranite.
Garmins latest software for the GTN navigators (V6.5) offers compelling new features. GTNs come in both the GTN 700 and GTN 600 series. The patriarch is the x50 (650 or 750) with GPS/NAV/COM capabilities; whereas the x25 has only GPS. The 600 and 700 differ in the screen size and the 700s ability to control an embedded audio panel. With the larger screen, the 700 can also display georeferenced (Jeppesen or AIS) approach charts.
Like many of you, I also ride motorcycles. I have two Hondas, one of which is 25 years old but still suits me quite well. Due to a confluence of some logistical and health challenges, now past, I hadnt ridden in a few years. Late this past summer I again undertook two-wheeled transportation.