Today was a good day!
Checking the weather before heading to the airport it was reporting 4000 broken 8000 scattered; looking out the window (I live 1.5 miles from the airport) I didn’t believe it. Once at the airport while preflighting the plane another instructor pulled up from a return flight and said he broke out of the clouds at about 2500 feet which is about what my eyes were telling me. My CFI (certified flight instructor) was finishing up with another pilot so I finished preflighting the plane and then went in to see what he wanted to do for my lesson.
Up to now we had been practicing in the simulator and during flights using a view limiting device. My CFI makes sure I don’t run into anything while I wear a device that limits my field of vision to only the airplanes instrumentation. I use the Supper Hood that clips onto a regular visor hat since I find it most comfortable.
My CFI looked over the weather and I let him know that tomorrows weather looked pretty bad with thunderstorms moving in, so tomorrows lesson would likely have to be in the simulator. To my surprise he suggested filing a real IFR (instrument flight rules) flight plan to Frederick MD KFDK and then back to Carroll County Regional KDMW.
We would fly the GPS Approach at KFDK and then return to Carroll County and fly two approaches: the VOR 34 and the GPS 16.
We went over the flight plan and approach plates in the briefing room and he showed me what to put in some of the fields in the IFR Flight Plan on my iPad and then I sent it to ATC (Air Traffic Control) right from my iPad.
Once in the plane we taxied to the run-up area and I called ATC Potomac Clearance Delivery on the phone, you can’t reach them by radio on the ground, and picked up my IFR Clearance. Once off the ground I established radio contact with Potomac Departure on the way to EMI at 3000 feet. Thus I was off on my first real IFR Flight through the clouds. From the point I called clearance delivery I was under the control of ATC with no vision out the windshield of the airplane and flying completely on instruments! WHAT A HIGH!!!!!!!
I took directions from ATC, vectors to final, and was cleared for the RNAV GPS 05 approach. Once cleared I executed the approach plate which gives me altitudes and headings to fly right down to the runway. Upon breaking out of the clouds the runway was right where it was supposed to be! Amazing. I then reported that I was “going missed” and flying the missed approach procedure depicted on the plate. Every approach has at least one missed approach procedure so that if you are not able to get below the clouds in a stabilized way so that you can land, or for any other reason it is not safe to land, the missed approach gives you a destination and altitude to fly to so that you can circle in a “hold” and then get approval to try the approach again or go to an alternate airport. Because you are flying low and slow on an approach procedure you want to make sure you practice the missed approach so that you can get safely away from the ground and obstacles and regroup.
After going missed from Frederick KFDK I requested to return to Carroll Co Reg and fly the VOR 35 Approach. I was given routing to EMI and then cleared for the approach. I again went missed and requested the RNAV GPS 16 approach and was given routing to my Initial Approach Fix IAF and cleared for the approach. Once again breaking out below the clouds the runway was right where the plates said it would be! 3 for 3 so it was a good day.
I landed at Carroll Co Reg and taxied to the hangers grinning from ear to ear.