Approach & Departure Charts

When it comes to instrument flying and training, you get introduced to a lot of new material which can be a mouthful to learn and getting adopted too.  One of the biggest (and probably most challenging) thing about learning instrument flying is reading and understanding approach and departure procedures. Over the course of this semester, I’ve had to adapt to getting use to reading those charts and thought it would be cool to give a basic introduction of how to read these procedures (keep in my mind I will only do a basic introduction since there’s a lot of information.

Departure Procedures

As the name implies, the departure procedure is used for all aircrafts that are leaving an airport to its next destination. Before you can begin the departure procedure, you first must pick up your IFR clearance from clearance delivery to your next destination. When you call for your IFR clearance, you will receive a lot of information to read back, so here’s a basic acronym that my ground instructor has taught me so that I know what to expect from clearance delivery; and that acronym is CRAFT and here’s what each word stands for

C- clearance- The first thing you will here is the clearance to your destination, so let’s so were flying to Oklahoma City you would here “cleared to Will Rogers World Airport (KOKC)

R- route of flight- When it comes to the rout of flight you will typically hear what you will be flying whether if it’s tracking VOR’s, Waypoints, Departure routes and a lot more.

A-Altitude- You then will be given an assigned altitude to climb to once you’ve departed and then another altitude for a later time. Example “fly runway heading climb and maintain 6,000 and expect 14,000 10 minutes after departure.

F- Frequency- Next, will be the frequencies you will be talking too once you’re on the departure leg of your flight. Example “departure frequency is 124.2”

T-Transponder- and finally you will be given a transponder code so that ATC can identify you and your route of flight. Example “squawk 7642”.

Now let’s look at an actual departure procedure in the chart form which pretty much all pilots use especially with the Foreflight App.

Here we have the Leona One departure out of Houston Hobby airport. As you can see you can identify the VOR’s, frequencies, flight levels and how far these legs are from one another. So, for example when we are ready for takeoff out of Hobby, we will take to tower on 118.7, then switch to departure on 132.25. As you can see once we hit Humble we then go to Willis, and then Leona. Depending on which direction we are going we will then go to Cedar Creek or Doley. You can also see the altitudes we are flying by identifying the number over the route of flight like where you 10,000 and Fl 180 (18,000 ft.). The great thing about these altitudes is that you do not have to wait for ATC to dive you these assigned altitudes; in fact, you are required to follow these departure assignments as stated by the FAA, the only way you can deviate from these instructions is if you are in an emergency or cause you to violate an FAA regulation.

Arrival Procedure

Again, as the name implies, the arrival procedure is used for aircrafts that are approaching and landing at their destination. As you will see here in a second the arrival procedure looks almost exactly like a departure procedure, yet the arrival focuses on getting to the airport rather than getting away from it. So, let’s look at an arrival procedure in the chart form.

Again, you see that the arrival procedure looks at exactly like the departure procedure, but you will see more procedures like holding patterns, radial tracking and assigned altitudes; in fact speaking of altitudes I’m sure some of you have noticed lines above, below or in between the altitudes and all those basically say if the line is under the altitude it basically means be at or above, if it’s below like at PETER it means be at or below, and finally between like at LOVES means be at the assigned altitude. And just like the departure procedure, you also see the frequencies you can expect and who you will most likely talking to once you are arriving at your destination.

Once you’re nearing your airport you then will go to the specified arrival for the runway which will be either a ILS, Localizer, or an RNAV approach into whatever airport you are arriving in. For example below is the ILS approach into runway 4 at Houston Hobby Airport.

The top third of the chart you can see multiple things like the frequencies for the tower, weather information, ground control, airport elevation, course approach and much more. The next third shows the actual course approach and what points you will fly over before reaching the runway. And then right below you see sort of the step-down view of the approach and the altitudes you will fly at before you begin the final descent into the airport. The final feature I want to point out on this chart is the missed approach procedures if you must declare one. If you notice just below the step-down portion you will see 1,600 feet and RAYCI. This means that if you have to declare a missed approach you will climb and maintain 1,600 feet, fly runway heading and proceed to RAYCI and hold as published and wait for further instructions from ATC.

As you can see, it’s certainly a lot to learn, and it can get confusing quickly, but just like any other skill that you learn the more practice you get the better you become at it. Like I said in this is only a basic introduction into approach and arrival charts and believe me there’s a lot more features and terminology in these charts.

Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as other reviews on aviation related articles. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”



My personal Favorite Aircraft.

First off I hope everyone enjoyed the much-needed spring break, but of course it’s time to get back into the grind of things and finish the last half of the semester. For this week’s post, I thought I would do a simple, and very popular topic that nearly every pilot talks about; my favorite type of aircraft. While a lot of people argue why one particular aircraft is far more superior than every other aircraft; the one aircraft I have always appreciated (and that has been by far my favorite) is the Boeing 757 aircraft.

So why is the Boeing 757 my favorite aircraft of all time? Well here’s exactly why.

The Design

In today’s society, it seems like every aircraft company (mainly Boeing and Airbus) are trying to outdo each other by creating aircraft’s with larger bodies, more seating, advanced cockpits, more power to the engines; the Boeing 757 has kept it’s original, classic look ever since it was created by Boeing in the 1980’s. Another feature I love about the Boeing 757 is the long narrow body of the aircraft. While aircraft like the 767 and 777 are incredible aircraft’s, I’ve always thought that from a pilot’s perspective both aircraft’s look like they have more difficulty getting off the ground compared to the 757. Now I know the 767/777 are meant to carry more passengers and are much heavier, but it still looks like pilots struggle to get them off the ground because of how large the two aircraft’s are. Finally, when I’ve always appreciated the fact that the engines and wings seem equally proportional. Again, in a society where industries are creating longer wings and bigger engines, the 757 has two twin engine jets, and a wing span of only 125 feet which in my mind gives it a nice equally proportion of engine size and wing span.

The Cockpit

By far my favorite feature of the 757 would honestly have to be the cockpit. The Boeing 757 uses six Rockwell Collins CRT screens to display flight instrumentation, as well as an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and an engine indication and crew alerting system (EICAS). The great thing about the cockpit of the 757 is that it is neither over the top, or a complicated cockpit like other aircraft’s, yet it is also not out of date or ancient like some of the older aircraft’s used in first few years of commercial flying. In addition, the 757 includes all the basic warning horns and alerts that most pilots are familiar with and have trained on throughout most of their career. In fact, a lot of today’s commercial airline pilots prefer to fly the 757 over most other aircraft’s because of the cockpit and aircraft performance.

The Performance

As far as performance goes, one feature that I’ve always appreciated about the 757 from a passenger stand point, is that the engines are much quitter as compared to other jet engines. If you’re a frequent flyer, like I am, you tend to hear that annoying whining sound that the engines make and to me it’s very annoying. Yet, the 757 engines tend to make a quieter humming sound which sounds a lot more soothing. For a lot of commercial airliners, they tend to like using the 757 because it can be used for long domestic flights (example Los Angeles to New York) or short overseas international flights (example Boston to Iceland) so it’s almost like getting a two for one deal. Also, airline pilots tend to prefer the Boeing 757 performance over other aircraft’s because of how quickly they can climb out and get off the ground. Since the landing gear is a lot higher compared to other aircrafts, this gives the 757 the ability to climb out quicker, as well as allowing for a slightly greater angel of attack compared to other aircraft’s. It also helps relieve some stress for pilots, since they don’t have to worry about a tail strike on takeoff or landing in the Boeing 757.

In the end, I think the main reason I love the 757 so much is that it fits my personality, it’s a very classic aircraft, and I consider myself a classic guy. It’s neither an aircraft that is over the top yet not old or ancient like some others, and I hope the 757 never loses its classic look or features for as long as it is in service.

Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as other reviews on aviation related articles. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”


Photo credits and research goes to Boeing, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

What is an instrument rating?

Okay, so I don’t how you all feel; but I find it hard to believe it’s already March and that Spring Break is less than a week away, which is good because I need a break from all these midterms and that means it’s almost my birthday (March 16th to be exact). Over the course of the semester, I’ve told you all and my friends that I’m currently working towards my instrument rating and the question my friends always seem to ask me is “what’s an instrument rating, and why is it so important?” so for this week’s post I will answer some of the questions about what exactly an instrument rating is and why it’s so important to have in your flying career.

What is an Instrument rating?

An instrument rating in the flying world is just basically saying that “you as pilot in command of an aircraft have properly demonstrated the safe and control ability to fly an airplane based on the sole use of instruments” in other words you can safely fly the plane when your outside visibility is taken away from you 99.9% of the time due to weather conditions (examples- rain, clouds, fog, thunderstorms, snowstorms).

What does my instrument rating allow me to do?

While receiving your private pilot’s, license is a huge first step in your flying career, you do have a few restrictions that may prevent you from flying into a few things; yet, your instrument rating allows you to take off those restrictions. So here is what your instrument rating allows you to do:

  1. Fly into class Alpha (A) airspace which begins at 18,000 mean sea level (MSL)
  2. File an IFR flight plan (aka ATC airspace)
  3. Fly in weather conditions less that VFR and clouds
  4. Fly in special VFR at night

So, as you can see your instrument rating is a key rating to have.

How do I obtain an instrument rating?

Before you can get your instrument rating, there are a few requirements you must meet to obtain your instrument rating. The first thing you will need to have is either your private pilot or commercial rating. Next, you will need to have at least 50 hours of cross country flying of being pilot in command as well as 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument conditions. Finally, you will need to have done six instrument approaches, 1 holding pattern, and tracked and intercepted courses within six calendar months; this also helps you to stay instrument current or meet the requirements.

Why is an instrument rating so important?

Ask any commercial airliner “what is the most important rating, besides your ATP?”(Airline Transport Pilots License) and they will most probably tell you that your instrument rating is by far the most important. If you are like me and you are one day wanting to work for the airliners or a corporate company, you absolutely must have an instrument rating to fly for these companies, because you will be flying to major cities and airport, as well as the fact that you will be doing Instrument approaches and arrivals (ILS appraoches, RNAV Approach, Texon 3 departure, ect.) out of and into these airports. You must also be able to do what ATC tells you to do because they are trying to get your aircraft into your destination, or have you on your way to your destination. As I stated earlier your instrument rating allows you to fly into class A airspace at 18,000 MSL and I’m sure you want to be flying where all the other jet liners are, so you can reach your destination ASAP. Not only is your instrument rating crucial for your future career as a pilot, but it also is beneficial to have during your training period. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my flight cancelled due to low hanging clouds, and most of the times these clouds are not producing any form of rain or snow. Yet, since I don’t have my instrument rating now, I’m not legal to fly in these clouds just yet. However, when I do get my instrument rating, I can legally fly into these clouds on cloudy and continue with my training rather than being grounded. So, believe me getting your instrument rating is important during your training days and future career as a pilot.

(Here’s a good example of a situation where you 100% need your instrument rating to land the airplane photo credits to Langley flying school)

Also here’s a video on youtube of why an instrument rating is so important

Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as other reviews on aviation related articles. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”