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A License to Learn
The hard part of IFR flight after obtaining your rating is not the flying so much as surviving while you fill all the experience gaps not covered in your training. The last level of achievement will be in acquiring the confidence needed to fly IFR alone. Competent IFR pilots do not crash, often.

Flying Smart IFR
When first beginning IFR training the multiplicity of tasks so divides our attention that the putting together of the puzzle seems impossible. There are some ways not only to fly better but to fly smarter.
--A good pilot will anticipate rather than react. Thinking ahead of the airplane is a necessity, not a choice.
--Scan is an essential ingredient to good IFR piloting. A proficient scan can only be maintained by continual practice.
--You can get away with some memorized checklists. Written checklists are the preferred method of experienced pilots.
--Be exact in your actions. Know how much power, trim, rudder, it takes to do what. Organize the flow path of what you do.
--Know where you are in the world around you. Nothing, but nothing, so disables the thought processes as being lost, confused or misplaced.
--Learn enough of the codes so as to know the navaid identifier when you hear it.
--Organize your flight materials. There is considerable difference between having something and knowing just where you have it.
--Use all your ATC and cockpit resources. Every radio and navaid should be used effectively. Knowing you need assistance requires a companion factor of being able to ask for it.
--Divide the things you do into priorities. Do the primary things in order. Secondary things must wait both their turn and the time of doing.
--Standards are just averages. Fly to a higher level in maintaining altitude, heading and airspeed.
--The pre-approach preparation of weather, getting plate essentials, setting radios and navaids is completed before reaching the initial approach fix.
--If you are not doing something then there must be something you should be doing.
--Getting behind is part of life and flying. Slowing down the airplane is the best way to catch up to it in the cockpit.
--Beginning with aircraft control we find that flying the airplane must be removed as part of the equation.

Saving Money
The IFR rating doesn't have to be as expensive as most pilots make it. The ego of most mid-time pilots often and mistakenly lead them to believe that the major hurdles are to learn the applicable material needed to pass the written. The flying is a 40 hour understood requirement but no problem.

Though often not prone to boast, every pilot likes to think of himself as a good pilot. The pilot, however, is selective in his recollections of flying events and performance. The quality of a pilot is a conglomerate of many skills and thought processes. Any deficiency in one area permeates the whole. Jack Nicklaus said of golfing, "The game of golf is not how many good shots you hit, it's how few bad shots you hit. The same concept applies to instrument flying. Greatest weakness of IFR students is their inability to fly basic instruments.

Until you master efficient aircraft operation don't even think of beginning concentrated IFR instruction. That is unless you have in ingrained desire to escalate your instructional costs. The best way to become IFR efficient after getting your private license would be to get at least forty of your fifty required hours of cross country using IFR en route techniques while VFR. IFR radio procedures like most ATC procedures are 'canned'. Everything you say will be the same format except for place names, altitudes, aircraft numbers, and special instructions or requests.

The skill of flying has a foundation of planning for efficiency in every phase. Anticipation instead of reaction is the difference. The skillful pilot has a planned efficient preflight, a planned efficient departure, a planned efficient flight route, and a planned efficient arrival. Even the most minute aspect of the above operations should be both planned and efficient. The seeming effortless performance of a skillful pilot is due to planning and efficiency. There is a minimum of wasted or repetitive movement of body and controls. All actions are predicated to anticipate a minimum of subsequent action. How rapidly you improve in your instrument flying will be directly related to how quickly you learn from your mistakes.

How well you fly IFR is directly related to your initial flight training and the extent to which the instrument instructor has to rebuild habits and concepts. Extra vigilance and precision is required to fly IFR. The transition is not easy or without emotional pain. You will sacrifice much of the freedom and tolerances allowed in VFR flight.

A CFII will use numerous devices to reduce the stress of the VFR to IFR transition. The learning curve depends on many factors which must be orchestrated by the student and instructor to keep everything moving in harmony. The student wants the enjoyment of flying, perhaps, without realizing that the expense of flying will soon out run any enjoyment if the required book knowledge is not acquired. I roughly figure about four hours of study for every hour of flying.

Study should go in phases. Initially cover the material quickly as with a novel to get the big picture. You need to see where you are headed. Next read and make small marks (Not underlines or highlights) to identify what you think of as worth underlining. A final reading should underline or highlight the essentials.

The flight training should include extensive pre-and post-flight briefings and review. My preference for a planned flight to Sacramento would include mentioning the flight and suggested preparation for the flight at the end of the immediately preceding flight. This would be followed by a phone conversation the night before during which preparation would reviewed by going through the approach plates and radio procedures to be anticipated.

I would expect the aircraft to be pre-flighted and ready to go at the appointed time of my arrival at the airport. 
--We would walk through the entire departure route on the ramp.
--We would walk through the route and expected altitudes including the missed approach. --We would walk and talk through the radio procedures. 
--We would sit in the aircraft and make a dry-run through all the communication frequencies and voice communications anticipated including a check of our frequency list. --Finally, we would run through The #1 and #2 navigational frequencies and OBS settings for the route as they occurred in sequence. 
--We do everything on the ground that can be done on the ground.

Since all of the preflight briefing and actual flight is tape recorded my post-flight briefing will be directed toward essential successes and shortcomings. I will emphasize how and why any changes must be initiated. A final debriefing will occur over the phone after the student has had a chance to play back the recordings.

I try to make flying and learning to fly enjoyable but not without mistakes. Mistakes are an instructional tool not to be feared but to be appreciated as real time events that can occur regardless of experience level.  I am always available to talk flying.

I have had IFR pilots go through a very difficult instructional period and then relax. They relax so much that they make basic mistakes of heading, radio, aircraft configuration and situational awareness. Don't relax until you stop the engine.

Safety Pilot per FAR 91.109(b)
--Safety pilot must be private with category and class ratings. If VFR safety pilot does not need IFR rating. If IFR PIC must be instrument rated, current, and legal.
--If two equally qualified pilots should chose to trade hood time while the other acts as safety pilot, they both can log PIC time. One as sole manipulator of the controls and the other as required crew member.
--Minimum qualifications for safety pilot is a private pilot appropriately rated in aircraft. Flight under simulated instrument conditions are logged as place and type of each instrument approach completed and name of the safety pilot.

Hood 'Actual'
You should have an "actual conditions" checklist. Every time you go under the hood you should go through the list to develop good IFR habits. It could/should include such items as pitot heat, vacuum backup, alternate air check and HI/Compass check

Safety Standards
No hard IFR without redundant vacuum and possible redundant gyros
2. Enough fuel to fly to VFR conditions.
3. Don't do a second approach after missed approach. Go somewhere better.
4. Don't let 'getting there' be part of the problem.
Don't fly where slow air masses meet low pressure systems.

Tape Recorder
When using tape recorder. or digital recorder  always give a time check at the beginning of each 45 minute tape run so that time of a given event can be determined. The FAA does it to you every time you contact ATC.

Logging Time
--FAR Part 1 defines PIC as the one responsible for operation. You cannot be PIC on an IFR flight plan unless IFR rated even in VFR conditions.
--You can log PIC time under FAR 61.51 (c)(2)(i) which is when the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated.
--FAR 61.51 (C)(4) then defines instrument time as when the pilot operates an aircraft solely by reference to instruments. This second PIC time is time toward instrument flight experience requirement of FAR 61.65.
--Instructional time cannot be logged as IFR instruction unless a CFI is aboard.  40 hours of instruction in IFR is required. 25 hours can be with a CFI and at least 15 must be with a CFII. If you can, get up to twenty-five hours of instruction from a CFI who will probably instruct for less than a CFII.


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