201er

A few things I learned IFR

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Had an interesting bit of IFR flying today in actual. Coming to Butler, KBTP, the AWOS was reporting 800 overcast. The GPS runway 26 approach (which the wind was favoring) was good down to 600-1. Great. I shoot the approach and can't see a break in the clouds down at 600. I hold the altitude till the end and go missed.

On the missed, I listen to the AWOS and now it's reporting 400. Approach asks me to say my intentions so with the wind being only about 4kts down 26, I said I'll try the ILS going the other way. The ILS is good to 300-1. With 400 overcast, that should be ok as well. I shoot the approach and down to the DA, I've got nothing. I figured even if it's slightly below minimums, if I could just make out the rails, I could get an extra hundred. Neither the ground nor the runway lights, I go missed again. Now the AWOS reports 200 overcast! ATC asks my intentions and I said I'll fly the published missed and hold till the weather improves.

After about 15 minutes of holding, I was getting pretty tired so I figured I'll give it another shot and go somewhere else and take a break before coming back if it doesn't work out. It was reporting 400 so I had a shot. I fly the approach and as I cross the FAF, the AWOS goes back too reporting 200! I thought of cancelling the approach but figured, heck, I can use the practice so why not? I fly the approach right on the ball. I broke out at about 400ft, just a little above minimums and spotted the runway. Something was odd though, the runway lights were not on. I didn't need them this time because I broke out, but they could have made it work last time. I clicked the mic a bunch of times and then they came on! Doh!

For some reason, it just didn't occur to me to activate the runway lights in daytime. Usually if I fly an ILS, it's either at a towered airport or at night and I know to click for lights. Butler is uncontrolled and it just didn't dawn on me to turn them on in day time. Nothing unsafe, I held to minimums and went missed the other times but dang those lights might have helped.

On a 2 hour flight, I ended up spending an entire hour shooting 3 approaches to minimums and holding. I ended up being more exhausted from that last hour than I was from the other 4 hours of xcountry flying all day. I can fly to Florida on a nice day and be less worked than an hour of hard IFR. Instead of picking up my passenger and going right away, I took an hour break and got food before getting back in the plane.

So two things I learned were give the mic a bunch of clicks when shooting an approach and the weather can go up and down quickly in screwy ways. The only way to know if you can really make it in or not is to give it a try (as long as you can honestly hold to minimums and go no further unless you have it).

 

Edited by 201er
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Funny how you get so tired when your brain is working in overdrive.  Buddy of mine (of those pilot workshop videos) had to go somewhere else one day because of the same issue... Forgot to put the lights on.  

I flew over 39N one night after too much flying (multi leg day going from New Jersey to Pittsburgh to Virginia and back to NJ) where I was too tired to realize the PCL could have been something other than the CTAF frequency and where to find that in foreflight.  In retrospect my brain was mush at that point and I had my family in the plane at night.   Circling over the field  I finally  realized how fatigued I was - decided to land on the biggest and best lit runway I could find, which was Trenton.   One of the more memorable flights because I took a dumb move and turned it into a smart move.  

When I used to fly in the Boston area, the local  pilot out was if you’re in crap weather and  you need to land, go to BOS. Towered, well lit, and 24 hr services made it a great alternate despite the landing fees.  Same thing with the Pittsburgh area - PIT is very functional, GA friendly, better weather than AGC most of the time, and well lit huge runways give a nice piece of mind when flying into the region.  

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3 hours ago, 201er said:

Had an interesting bit of IFR flying today in actual. Coming to Butler, KBTP, the AWOS was reporting 800 overcast. The GPS runway 26 approach (which the wind was favoring) was good down to 600-1. Great. I shoot the approach and can't see a break in the clouds down at 600. I hold the altitude till the end and go missed.

On the missed, I listen to the AWOS and now it's reporting 400. Approach asks me to say my intentions so with the wind being only about 4kts down 26, I said I'll try the ILS going the other way. The ILS is good to 300-1. With 400 overcast, that should be ok as well. I shoot the approach and down to the DA, I've got nothing. I figured even if it's slightly below minimums, if I could just make out the rails, I could get an extra hundred. Neither the ground nor the runway lights, I go missed again. Now the AWOS reports 200 overcast! ATC asks my intentions and I said I'll fly the published missed and hold till the weather improves.

After about 15 minutes of holding, I was getting pretty tired so I figured I'll give it another shot and go somewhere else and take a break before coming back if it doesn't work out. It was reporting 400 so I had a shot. I fly the approach and as I cross the FAF, the AWOS goes back too reporting 200! I thought of cancelling the approach but figured, heck, I can use the practice so why not? I fly the approach right on the ball. I broke out at about 400ft, just a little above minimums and spotted the runway. Something was odd though, the runway lights were not on. I didn't need them this time because I broke out, but they could have made it work last time. I clicked the mic a bunch of times and then they came on! Doh!

For some reason, it just didn't occur to me to activate the runway lights in daytime. Usually if I fly an ILS, it's either at a towered airport or at night and I know to click for lights. Butler is uncontrolled and it just didn't dawn on me to turn them on in day time. Nothing unsafe, I held to minimums and went missed the other times but dang those lights might have helped.

On a 2 hour flight, I ended up spending an entire hour shooting 3 approaches to minimums and holding. I ended up being more exhausted from that last hour than I was from the other 4 hours of xcountry flying all day. I can fly to Florida on a nice day and be less worked than an hour of hard IFR. Instead of picking up my passenger and going right away, I took an hour break and got food before getting back in the plane.

So two things I learned were give the mic a bunch of clicks when shooting an approach and the weather can go up and down quickly in screwy ways. The only way to know if you can really make it in or not is to give it a try (as long as you can honestly hold to minimums and go no further unless you have it).

 

That’s why we do this. Always something to learn or remember. The airport in NY that I visit periodically has lights controlled this way. 

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201er,

Really nice explanation of real IFR experience. Thanks for sharing it.

 

39N has its PCL on the old CTAF.   It came before the radio frequencies were multiplied with closer frequency separation...

122.8 vs 122.725..? (From a really old memory)

The number of CTAFs were limited and local airports shared the same frequency too often...

Best regards,

-a-

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Nice lesson learned.  I would not have thought about that either.

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10 minutes ago, teejayevans said:

I wonder if you had a fancy AP that could track GS as well as course if it would have been as tiring?

Wondering that myself, in addition to flying the hold.

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25 minutes ago, teejayevans said:

I wonder if you had a fancy AP that could track GS as well as course if it would have been as tiring?

 

13 minutes ago, flyboy0681 said:

Wondering that myself, in addition to flying the hold.

I have one of those fancy autopilots and having the ability to fly a hold and a full precision approach hands off does lighten the workload. I think Mike doesn't have the altitude hold capability on his AP. GPSS adds a whole new dynamic to the term "reduced workload".

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14 minutes ago, Marauder said:

I have one of those fancy autopilots and having the ability to fly a hold and a full precision approach hands off does lighten the workload. I think Mike doesn't have the altitude hold capability on his AP. GPSS adds a whole new dynamic to the term "reduced workload".

If the main purpose were to make it easy, then we'd all fly there by airline.

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12 minutes ago, 201er said:

If the main purpose were to make it easy, then we'd all fly there by airline.

Ah, but it is highly unlikely you can get there by airline. As for the AP, no different than the use of any other device used to increase safety. 

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Having a fully coupled AP allows you to arrive in better shape. Last year I flew a 600 mile trip and when nearing my destination the AP crapped out. Hand flying the entire trip home was pretty exhausting, especially with deviations around storms.

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If @201er had anything to make flying his J easier, he'd need much bigger tanks. He's already able to fly the 10+ hours of range he has and arrive fresh as a daisy. ;-)

 

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5 minutes ago, gsxrpilot said:

If @201er had anything to make flying his J easier, he'd need much bigger tanks. He's already able to fly the 10+ hours of range he has and arrive fresh as a daisy. ;-)

 

Yeah, but then again he is 30 years younger than the corns on my toes. He'll be like us one day...

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Just now, Marauder said:

Yeah, but then again he is 30 years younger than the corns on my toes. He'll be like us one day...

I actually give Mike a lot of credit, he's done more at a much younger age than I ever did. I didn't enter into my current partnership until my mid 50's.

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2 hours ago, flyboy0681 said:

Having a fully coupled AP allows you to arrive in better shape. Last year I flew a 600 mile trip and when nearing my destination the AP crapped out. Hand flying the entire trip home was pretty exhausting, especially with deviations around storms.

Humans can only focus on one task at a time. Having something remove tasks from your plate creates more time to focus on higher priorities, like engine operation or turning the lights on.

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18 hours ago, 201er said:

as long as you can honestly hold to minimums and go no further unless you have it

So you are saying if you are "capable" and you "have to" flying an approach below minimums is OK? 

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9 minutes ago, kpaul said:

So you are saying if you are "capable" and you "have to" flying an approach below minimums is OK? 

Keven, he said "have it", not "have to". I understood him to mean he wouldn't drop below min unless he had contact and was in a position to make a landing per regs.

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1 minute ago, Bob_Belville said:

Keven, he said "have it", not "have to". I understood him to mean he wouldn't drop below min unless he had contact and was in a position to make a landing per regs.

I stand corrected, apparently I can not read very well.  @201er I apologize. 

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3 hours ago, kpaul said:

So you are saying if you are "capable" and you "have to" flying an approach below minimums is OK? 

I don't think that's what he said or meant.

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Yep, read the post above yours

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

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On 10/6/2017 at 11:49 AM, Marauder said:

Yeah, but then again he is 30 years younger than the corns on my toes. He'll be like us one day...

That is so true...as the song says "I'm not the man I used to be"Fully coupled in low IMC is what the airline pros do..so that is good enough for me!Practice IMC is all about hand flying in the event of AP failure...I do it every month for practice but my actual approaches after a long trip to an unfamiliar field are all gpss coupled

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On 10/6/2017 at 2:49 PM, Marauder said:

Yeah, but then again he is 30 years younger than the corns on my toes. He'll be like us one day...

Triggered a thought. My wife had T-shirts made for my 40th birthday and I wear it on  every birthday. A few years ago, I did a flycation for my birthday and met some pilots from a nearby military base for lunch. Sobering to realize my shirt was older than them.

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Generally Speaking: unless the conditions are rapidly changing, and sometimes they are ... I’m personally not an advocate of conducting numerous approaches.

In 201er’s case, he had changing conditions and used a second approach with lower mins. That’s all good.

At times when it’s just socked-in, and not burning off ... best to divert early (with more gas) rather than later. 

Just my opinion.

@201er ... ty for sharing 

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17 minutes ago, daver328 said:

Generally Speaking: unless the conditions are rapidly changing, and sometimes they are ... I’m personally not an advocate of conducting numerous approaches.

In 201er’s case, he had changing conditions and used a second approach with lower mins. That’s all good.

At times when it’s just socked-in, and not burning off ... best to divert early (with more gas) rather than later. 

Just my opinion.

@201er ... ty for sharing 

Words to live by. Literally.

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As a newly minted IFR pilot with still higher personal minimums, thanks for sharing.

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