This is one of those posts for those who like the pure flight videos, who like to know a little of what it looks like from the cockpit on the rescue flights. Getting my instrument rating added a margin of safety and flexibility to my flying. I can fly safer on dark nights through non populated hilly country and through marginal weather that I am not comfortable with doing VFR or where it is not legal to do so VFR.
For example I was never comfortable flying through a clear space between clouds and flying over the top of them hoping to find a clear space to descend through at my destination; it just seemed to risky even if the destination is forecast to be scattered etc. Need proof? Check YouTube and there are plenty of non-instrument rated pilot videos showing what happens at the destination when those forecasted spaces in the clouds just aren’t there. On long trips if the weather is worse than forecasted I have a margin of safety to pick up an IFR Clearance and continue the mission. That doesn’t mean I can just go busting through the clouds at any time….. Unless you have a FIKI (Flight Into Known Icing) airplane you cannot go into visible moisture when the temperature is freezing or below. Even close to freezing and you can have supper cooled water that freezes on contact and even when its well above freezing it can be below freezing just 3 to 5000 feet aloft. Ice can bring down airplane in minutes. So during the winter/spring season it can still be tough to fly. Then in the summer there is convective activity aka thunderstorms that even the big airliners don’t mess around with; though they do have the advantage of being able to often fly high enough to avoid them by flying above the weather. I don’t have that advantage until someone buys me a personal jet!
I didn’t realize it prior to being a pilot and I’m sure many people don’t understand the difference between airline travel as in the airline ticket you buy to grandma’s house and general aviation aircraft like I fly. The airlines have routes they fly day in and day out and large teams of people working every aspect of the flight supporting the pilot and crew. They use the biggest and best equipped airports with the best lighting systems and larges runways. Though I do sometimes fly into these airports, I often fly into smaller Class C International airports like Atlantic City, NJ, Class D airports like Lynchburg, VA or Richmond Executive Airport, and regional airports like Carroll County Regional, Md. I don’t get to fly day in and day out, train constantly on the company’s dime; nor do I have teams constantly feeding me the weather or tracking each aspect of the flight. I fly single pilot or with a friend copilot and have to look after every aspect of the flight such as flight planning, weight & balance, weather, etc; the decision making is all on me. Here in the USA we do have the worlds best ATC Air Traffic Control system and people to call for weather briefings; the support system is pretty impressive but it is still a lot for one person to keep up on. I aim to be as safe as possible and that means not only being current to fly IFR but also to be as proficient as I can within my means.
I obtained my Instrument Rating in October of 2017 and flew some IFR flights in late October and November. However due to weather and studying for my Commercial Pilot FAA Exam I didn’t get to fly much in December and January 2018. Starting in late February I began training in the Cirrus SR22 and obtained my high-performance endorsement so that I can fly more powerful aircraft. I was able to do my checkout flight with a Cirrus Flight Instructor in March. So then it was time to knock the rust off of the Instrument Rating and get my proficiency back; I was still current/legal (having flown 6 approaches and the required tasks in the past 6 months) but I wasn’t proficient. Therefore during the past few weeks I have been concentrating on flying instruments and pushing just a bit outside my prior comfort zone. Its a fine line between danger and safely exercising your privileges but it was time. So it feels good to have done so and practiced instrument flying…….
This video one of those flights. Though I was in the clear I was on an IFR Clearance and flying solely by instruments until I looked up just prior to minimums.