Since we didn’t get quite the amount of hood time we wanted in the last lesson, we scheduled a rare weeknight lesson for tonight. It had rained off and on all day today, so I wasn’t really sure if the weather would be good enough tonight for a lesson. But the rained moved out, and due to the cool(er) temperatures during the day and a high overcast this evening, the air was nice and calm for my flight.
We started out by flying out to the local VOR checkpoint so we could perform a check on the two VOR radios. Those are required once every 30 days, and it has just about been that amount of time since my last check. In any case, I needed a fresh one before I take my checkride, since those are one of those things that have to be done to be legal.
Since we were out at the checkpoint, Paul had me fly a hold while we did the check. That was good practice, since I hadn’t flown a hold in a while, plus it is going to be required during the checkride. After we completed the VOR check (you just tune both radios to the same frequency and radial, and then make sure they are within ±6° of each other), Paul had me intercept the radial for the VOR/DME approach into Pahokee. He gave me a vector to intercept the radial, but as I was flying it, I thought his vector was too far to the north. I would eventually intercept the radial I was looking for, but by then I would be flying in the wrong direction. Paul agreed and I changed my vector to due west, where I crossed the radial pretty quickly and then turned towards Pahokee.
I flew the whole approach into Pahokee, and then we flew a circle-to-land approach. I didn’t land and we headed back towards F45 for a few more approaches. About this time the sun started to set. This made instrument flying a lot more challenging (and realistic) because I could no longer see the ground out of the corner of my eye. And when I looked up at the compass, I wasn’t seeing anything out the windshield, either.
It also let me put my instrument lighting to the test. Last year I installed NuLites around all my instruments so I could see them easier at night. The 152 has really minimal interior lighting, and I always felt uncomfortable trying to land at night when it was difficult to read the airspeed indicator. The NuLites really make a difference, and tonight it was no problem flying solely by the instruments. The only lighting problem I came across was that the overhead light was just not quite bright enough to read the approach plates on the yoke. I eventually had to break out my flashlight so I could read them.
Paul gave me a vector as we left Pahokee to intercept the radial for the VOR approach into North County. By the time I was looking for the radial, we had already flown through it and had to turn back to intercept it. Once I got on the radial, we flew it all the way to North County and then flew the missed procedure up to the hold.
I flew the hold a couple times around and then we headed west to set up for the ILS approach. On the way there, Paul covered up the Attitude Indicator and the Directional Gyro. I flew for a while partial panel, doing a few compass turns. When we intercepted the localizer, he removed the covers and I flew the ILS normally. What little wind there was had died down by now, and I made hardly any corrections to stay on the localizer the whole way in. I got slightly behind on the glide slope and had to dive down a little to get caught up. That sped me up a little and when I lifted the hood at minimums, I used up half the runway getting slowed down and landed. I made it down safely and taxied off at the last taxiway. I don’t think I have ever landed that long before. It sure is nice having a plane that doesn’t require a lot of runway when that happens. Here’s this evenings track:
Overall, I think the flight went pretty well. It was so smooth out, it was practically cheating. I did have a little trouble holding altitude, which surprised me. I think the main reason I had trouble was because it was so smooth I got a little lazy keeping up with the altitude. The other problem I had was when I missed intercepting the radial out of Pahokee. Paul said that was partially his fault for not giving me a shallower intercept angle, but I still feel I should have caught it on my own.
During the flight, Paul quizzed me on rules and regulations for IFR flight. I knew most of the questions he asked, but there were some things I was a little fuzzy on. I need to start reviewing these things for the oral exam. I have scheduled a ground lesson with Paul to go over this stuff in detail next week.
I got another 1.4 hours of instrument time in this evening, leaving me with a paltry 1.2 hours left to go. I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My next lesson is Saturday where we should easily knock out the rest of the flight hours I need.