Friday, June 09, 2006

Starting instrument training

Even though I've been reading the rules and regulations, taking the practice test questions and watching the videos for it, I haven't done my formal instrument test written yet. As usual, the weather portion is putting me to sleep, along with some of the more obscure rules.

I'd told myself I'd get the written test done before starting the practical side of instrument flying, but 2 days ago, I said "bugger it" and called my instructor at the Skywagon flying club, and told him I'd like to go for my first instrument lesson.

We briefly discussed what I've practiced so far on the simulator, and I explained that after nearly 3000 hours of providing virtual Air Traffic Control services on VATSIM, I wanted to start the practical side of the training.

He said he was up for it and we scheduled a flight for Tuesday. So begins my instrument training!

What is instrument training? It's the training that leads up to a pilot receive an instrument rating, which allows said pilot to fly in weather conditions considerably more bleak than those which non-instrument rated pilots can fly in. For example, I can generally only fly on 'nice days.' Once I am an instrument rated pilot, I'll be able to fly by reference to instruments only, rather than relying on looking out the window, meaning I can fly on bad days, too.

This comes in very handy if you're planning a trip from A to B. While there are still some weather conditions that would be a good idea to fly through, low clouds no longer mean that I have to cancel my trips, as I did the other day when I was going to fly my neighbour (the Fire Chief for our town) to a fire convention 150 miles away.

The training will start by going up on a nice day and conducting simulated instrument approaches into a few airports. My instructor will be looking out the window to make sure we remain clear of any terrain or other aircraft. By the third lesson we can actually do the flight 'for real', meaning we'll file an IFR flight plan (Instrument Flight Rules), and ATC will keep us clear of other IFR aircraft. This is something I've wanted to do for a few years now, I can't wait to get up there!


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