Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Instrument Flying

Had a lesson booked with a land away at Goodwood but the weather this morning was low cloud, wind and rain.  Forecast for the afternoon was better but not good enough to make Goodwood and back.  Instructor suggested Instrument Flying if the weather improved enough. 

Instrument flight is where you fly an aircraft without being able to see outside – all you can see are the instruments.  During the lesson the trainee wears a long “baseball cap” type thing to restrict outside vision.

After take off and departing Redhill airspace, first step was to get the aircraft flying straight and level, then when it had settled down, the Instructor got me to close my eyes for 5 seconds – the idea being to keep the aircraft straight and level without a visual reference.  After 5 seconds opened my eyes and the aircraft was banked over to the right and the nose was pointing down.  I had no sensation of either turning or diving – it felt like it had just continued straight and level.  Scary how quickly it went out of control – this is what would happen if I flew into a cloud and lost sight of the ground.

So on with the “baseball cap” and on to instrument flying.  Instructor got me to do turns, climbing and descending with only reference to the instruments.   This proved to me quite hard work and mentally demanding.  If you take you eye off for even a second or two the aircraft would drift out of position – shows just how important clear visibility is to flying unless you are Instrument qualified.

After 45 mins of turns, climbs, descents etc, Instructor got me to take off the “baseball cap”.  Then I could see I was near Redhill and needed to get ready for landing.  At first I was a bit disoriented and it took me a few minutes to work out where I was and how to line up for approach.  Average landing (have done better but it was OK) and taxi back to the hanger.

Unless a Pilot is qualified (has an Instrument Rating) and is in a suitably equipped aircraft, they should never enter a cloud – I can see why.

So that’s 45 mins of instrument flying in my logbook.

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