IR(R) Training Log: Lesson 7

After my epic last lesson about ADF tracking and NDB approaches it was time to do… some more NDB approaches! Jerry has booked G-BNVE, a 180hp PA-28 with nice Garmin 530/430 avionics, perfect for IFR flying! The only thing was that I had no idea how to use those things…

I promise that his blog post will not be as comprehensive as my last one, as most of it is just a repetition of the procedure, and it is already explained in my last blog post. This is just consolidation of my NDB approach skills, and so I’ve booked two slots for 10 a.m.

Briefing

The exercise was planned to be similar to the previous one. From Wellesbourne fly west to intercept the 030 radial from GST in Gloucester, then fly along the radial until overhead and take up the hold. From there perform the approach, go missed, and come back for another one. Nothing too complicated, and this time hopefully with a ADF that points in the right direction at all times.

Exercise

IMG_0043
The Garmin 530 in the centre of the picture

Before departure I made myself familiar with the Garmin 530 avionics. The basics are very simple, i.e., changing Nav/Com frequencies and such. I also had a brief look at the GPS functions of the unit, but other than the ‘direct to’ function everything looked a bit more complicated. I decided to download the simulator at home to learn more about this later.

We took off from runway 36 LH, departed from the downwind leg, and took on a westerly heading. It took me a few minutes to get back into my instrument flying groove. After a while I could see the ADF needle coming in, and started my turn towards the beacon.

We switched radios to Gloucester Approach and asked for a traffic service, as well as the clearance for the NDB approach. The controller informed us that their radar was inoperative until 10 a.m., which is probably why no earlier slot was available when I booked them. We were a few minutes early, and so we performed a holding pattern on the spot to kill some time.

While heading towards Gloucester we tuned the second radio unit to listen to the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS), which is a pre-recorded message that gets broadcast continuously on a certain frequency. The ATIS contains important information about the local weather, active runways, available approaches and more to the pilot. Listening to two radio stations at once is not easy, but I gave my best decoding the required information for the approach. Jerry suggested getting a good IFR plog template that includes fields for filling out the ATIS information.

IMG_0063
My two approaches. The vectored downwind leg is clearly visible

I performed the first approach pretty much like the other one in the previous lesson, except I took over a bit more of the radio work. I couldn’t do all of it though, IFR radio requires a new set of vocabulary to be used and I haven’t memorised them all yet.

At the DDA we performed a missed approach, and the controller asked us if we’d be ok with vectors to final instead of the standard procedure. Of course we agreed, and so he vectored us on a downwind leg on the north side of the airport all the way back to a right base leg to intercept the localiser and establish the final approach.

After a second missed approach we navigated towards the beacon again and then outbound back to Wellesbourne to end this lesson.

Conclusion

The one thing I’m taking away from this lesson is that I’m still quite tense on these IFR flights. I could feel it in my shoulders and I had to remind myself to relax every now and then. IFR flying is a lot of work!

The other thing is that I have to become more familiar with the radio procedures on these approaches, and I must learn the phraseology used on IFR approaches. I guess this is just a matter of practise, and so I’m sure it’ll all come together in the end.

Course Time: 10:50h
Under the Hood: 9:20h

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