Our PPL training includes five hours of basic instrument training. I already had my three simulator sessions, which I wrote about before. I have now had my two basic instrument flights in a Cessna. And those were pretty exciting!
The requirement and main objective of the PPL basic instrument training is to provide the knowledge and skills to make a safe 180-degree turn if inadvertently flying into conditions where visual flying is no longer possible. This could happen for instance when flying into a cloud. Or it could rain so hard that sufficient visibility would be lost. The instrument rating, which we will start in the fall, is a whole different story. This basic training is just for getting yourself out of a bad situation.
Before the flights I had the expectation that we would fly to the training area, I would put on the instrument goggles and then fly some exercises. It didn’t go quite like that. After the take-off, once I had stabilized the plane, I put the goggles on. And coming back the teacher flipped them open in the short final, less than a minute before touchdown. On the second flight a little later than the first. Pretty cool isn’t it! Of course this simulates a situation where you would come out of the cloud in the late stages of the approach and would have to shift your focus from the instruments to the visual.
During flight the teacher gave me headings and altitutes to fly. At first it felt a little strange, hearing others on the radio and knowing they’re there, but not being able to see. Of course my teacher was my eyes and she kept an eye on the traffic.
On the second flight I experienced a short sensory illusion, which lasted a few seconds. I suddenly had a feeling the plane’s attitude wasn’t right, but looking at the artificial horizon it didn’t appear to be so. I trusted the artificial horizon and after a few seconds the sensation passed. It was good to experience how a sensory illusion feels as well as the short wonder when you see that the instuments tell you a whole different story. The reliance in the instruments must be there.
On the first flight I did basic flying, straight and level flight with different airspeeds and configurations, climbs and descents as well as descending and climbing standard rate turns. The objective was to develop basic skills of attitude flying instrument scanning techniques and interpretation.
The second flight included more challenging exercises. I flew more descending and climbing turns, straight descent with configuration changes (basically imitating approach), go-around procedure, level standard (30-degree) and advanced (45-degree) turns and slow flying in clean as well as landing configuration. The objective of this flight was to learn airplane control solely by instruments in descending and climbing turns, advanced turns, go-around, and to identify critically low airspeed and to recover to normal flight.
These two flights amounted to about 50 minutes of instrument time each. I enjoyed that time and I’m looking forward to more in the future.