The goal of today’s lesson was to wrap up the remaining instrument hours I needed. This would be the final flying lesson before the checkride, so the other goal was to make sure I was prepared for it.
This would be an afternoon lesson, which is not my preferred time to fly, since it is a lot bumpier in the air, and that makes it harder to fly accurately. But that was what worked out, so I just had to deal with it.
We started the lesson by taking off and heading towards Pahokee. I tracked a radial in to Pahokee and then turned north to start the VOR approach. As I started the procedure turn back towards the airport, Paul took the controls and we did two unusual attitudes. I recovered fine from both of them. After recovering from the second one, Paul wanted me to continue the approach I started. He did this because that was a more realistic way that an unusual attitude could happen. In other words, they rarely happen during straight and level flight, and not only do I need to be able to recover from them, but also to continue on with what I was doing before they happened. I managed to do the rest of the approach, but it wasn’t perfect.
As we circled around the airport, I mentioned that I thought it wasn’t that great, but Paul said that I made it to the airport and could have landed even if it was actual conditions, so that was good. He also said it is unlikely that is going to happen during the checkride, but he just wanted to make sure I could handle something like that.
After leaving Pahokee, we headed back towards F45 to do the VOR approach into there. That was more or less normal, but as we descended into the airport, Paul noticed something interesting with the VOR. The lower I got, the more “crosswind” correction I had to put in. I ultimately had almost 60° of correction in. I was down around 500 feet, which is just above the minimums of 480 feet. Paul had me climb back up to 1000 feet to see what would happen.
According to Paul (I couldn’t tell since I was under the hood), I was perfectly lined up for the airport on the approach until I descended down to the minimums. As I got lower (and further away from the VOR transmitter), the signal started to deflect to the left. That made me put in a correction that wasn’t necessary. So it seems that my earlier theory that being close to the ground at the outer edges of the VOR signal was encountering some interference or a deflection of the signal. That is why I never quite end up exactly at the airport when I fly that approach. We don’t know if there is something specific about my plane that causes this or if it happens that way on every airplane. I think it happens to some degree on every airplane, since both of my instructors (Paul and Joel) both said the VOR approach puts you a little north of the airport. There is something not great about the VOR signal when you get close to the airport. Good to know, although I will fly the ILS approach every time in real life anyway.
After flying that approach, we headed back around to do the ILS approach. Paul gave me some vectors so that I could intercept the localizer around the YIGBO waypoint via the 182° radial of the Vero Beach VOR. However, I thought we were south of the fix and was preparing to intercept the localizer by heading north. Unfortunately, we were actually north of the localizer, so Paul eventually had to give me vectors to go the other way. That was probably my biggest mistake of the day. Paul didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, but I am afraid if that happens during my checkride, I might not pass.
The ILS back into F45 went smoothly, and we circled to land on runway 31, since the winds had shifted around to the north. Here’s today’s track:
Overall, I think the flight was fine. Paul seems to think I can pass a checkride now, I’m not entirely convinced yet. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
It would have been nice to do an actual mock checkride, but I don’t think Paul prepares students that way. Between today’s lesson and my last one we covered everything that will be on the checkride, so I’m as ready as I am going to get. Today’s flight was a total of 1.3 instrument hours, bring my grand total of instrument time to 40.1 hours. I have finally reached the goal!
My next lesson will be Monday evening, where I will meet with Paul to review stuff for the oral exam. The checkride will be very similar to the one I did for my Private Pilot checkride, consisting of an oral exam and a practical exam. We’re now done prepping for the practical exam, and on Monday we will prep for the oral exam and also fill out the paperwork for the checkride. Getting close now.