I’m sure just like many of you, this past week was the first week of the semester, and despite being on a nice relaxing winter break, I’m relieved that the spring 2017 semester has finally started since I get back into flying (granted I miss sleeping in, but oh well). Like any first week of a semester, this week was mainly geared towards the thing that answers almost every question that a student has about the class; Syllabus week! Yes, that wonderful little stack of paper that determines whether you’ll muscle through or drop a class based on the course outlook, so I can say that nothing too exciting or surprising happened this first week of school.
As far as my flying goes I got to go one cross country flight in, but this cross-country flight had a little twist to it since it was my first time getting to fly in simulated instrument flight (aka flying under the hood) so I thought it would be great to talk about my first time experiencing Instrument flying for this week’s post.
The great thing about this semester as far as my flying goes, is that the course I’m in has a lot of cross country flights since you need a certain amount of cross country flying in order to obtain your instrument rating (which is what I’m working towards), as well as giving me a basic introduction to instrument flying. So, during this past Friday, my instructor and I did a cross country flight from Norman (KOUN) to Clinton-Sherman (KCSM), Stillwater (KSWO) and back to Norman.
During the second leg of the flight (Clinton to Stillwater which was about 120 nautical miles) my instructor told me that I would fly for 30 minutes in instrument simulated conditions. Once I got the hood on, I’m not going to lie when I say it felt weird and uncomfortable since I just had to rely on my instruments, and taking away my visual reference points. My instructor then entered the airport code on our GPS which gave us a desired heading towards Stillwater, so he told me to track and stay on that desired heading as best as I could.
For the first couple of minutes I had a hard time staying on that desired course and maintaining control of the aircraft, since I kept focusing on the GPS and not any of my other instruments. There were also times where I felt a little space disorientated. Since I focused on the GPS I wasn’t looking at instruments like my attitude indicator or my turn coordinator; so, at times when I felt the plane was at straight and level flight, the plane was turning a little towards the left and I would drift off course my about 10-15 degrees from my desired course. Yet, when I felt the plane was turning slightly towards one direction, it was in straight in level flight.
After about 5-10 minutes I slowly started getting better at maintaining the desired heading since I began to continuously scan each instrument to make sure I was maintaining altitude, keep on the desired course, and make sure the plane was in straight and level flight. After about 15-20 minutes I really got the hang of it and my instructor was quite impressed with how well I did while I was under the hood and before we knew it we were approaching the Stillwater airport.
The moral of this post is that if you’re like me, your first time flying in simulated instrument conditions can be quite the learning experience because yes you will become fixated on one instrument which you quickly learn not to do, as well as feeling a little disorientated since you don’t know what’s going on outside of your aircraft. But, no matter how you feel about flying in either simulated or actual instrument conditions, you’ve got to trust your instruments no matter what happens, your instruments are there to make sure you are not putting yourself in danger and they are a valuable resource when it comes to flying in general. So, over the courses of this semester there will be a lot of other flights where I will be put in simulated Instrument conditions and I hope to improve my instrument flying skills over the course of this semester, but I’m glad I got to experience it for the first time this past week.
Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out https://blog.globalair.com/ for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as aviation related topics. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”