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Our feathered friends

Some approaches achieve a certain celebrity status by nature of their difficulty or mind-bending design. Such is the famous (some say infamous) LOC/DME-E into Aspen, Colo. It leverages two different localizers to give you at least a remote chance of slipping down between the mountains and seeing the runway, or slipping back up between the mountains to tell the tale if you dont.

Your Best-Laid Plans

I wanted to cry. It was my Initial Operating Experience for the jet after transitioning from a turboprop and we were going into OHare. In a snowstorm. During rush hour. Wed just gotten our third approach change. I was so lost that I was little more than a voice-activated systems interface for my instructor pilot. If my brain had any spare cycles, Im sure it would have been thinking about truck-driving school.

Troublesome T and A

Non-standard is one of those tricky terms that could mean anything from a trivial change to a detail critical enough to change your whole game plan-or ruin your day if ignored.

Switch-Hitting On the EILS

Pull out your average approach plate for your favorite ILS. What youre looking at is really two approaches that share a piece of paper: the ILS and the localizer-only. Its even stated this way in TERPs: two separate approaches.

What is Established?

Surprisingly, the FAA is not the place to look for a definition of established. The AIM and the Instrument Flying Handbook say nothing on the topic. Only in the Instrument Procedures Handbook (FAA-H-8261-1A) does a definition pop up, and it just says that ICAO defines established as within half-scale indication on a localizer or VOR course. Useful, but there must be more.

Smooth Talker

In the film The Kings Speech, the future King George VI stammers and fumbles trying to start a nationally broadcast speech in front of a packed Wembley Stadium. With obligatory camera shots of the red On Air light blinking in mockery, the prince gives up and walks away from the microphone.

Down to the Driggs

On a fine spring day, you trundled off to Driggs, Idaho, to meet your buddy and sneak off to the best-kept-secret fishing spot in the west Tetons. Your buddy made a killing because he was an Apple geek in the '80s and bought no stock but theirs. He chartered a plane to Driggs. You invested heavily in the DeLorean Motor Company-and arrived in your dads old 172H.

Ready to Return in IMC

After a long weekend at the cabin with the family, youve packed up the flying family truckster for the Sunday afternoon return from Rural Island Muni back to Bigtown International. Passing through 1000 feet AGL, you push Direct-Direct to re-center the GPS route and turn on course-no obstacle departure procedure from this uncontrolled field-when the engine stumbles badly.

The right time to descend

The M.O. of IFR magazine is bringing to daylight all those little corners of instrument flying where the real-world practices differ from the regs, or at least where playing the game a bit differently than you learned in ground school has payoff without jeopardizing safety.

Stupid PIlot Tricks

As another year dawns bright on aviations horizon its time to glance back with jaundiced eye at what our fellow pilots have accomplished in the you-wont-believe-this department. Each year we scour the latest NTSB accident/incident reports for which probable cause has been determined and cherry pick those aviators whove made the supreme effort to ding a wing or to go the extra mile on the last whiff of avgas. We seek the best of the worst-the crme de lbuffoons-whove taken pranging airplanes to new lows and survived. Well analyze 2009, but given that we pilots try the same spar-bending antics over and over again, hoping for different results (the very definition of insanity), this could be from any year.

High-Latitude Approach

You asked for an iPad 4 last month, but the guy in the red suit brought you a mini. You want to visit him to discuss his error, so you plan a trip to the airport closest to the north (magnetic) pole: Resolute Bay. But, when you open the approach plates, youre confused.

Deadly Disorientation

Any activity that regularly kills between one half and one percent of its participants has room for improvement. Cutting the GA accident and death rate has been a cause celeb recently, and we heartily approve. Here at IFR, we decided to make our own contribution by delving into the accident rate specifically for IMC, focusing on where the outcomes were fatal.