I just love this stuff.   I should be working on my house, but when I saw rain and low clouds moving in, I couldn’t resist the urge to go do the real thing and make sure my skills were sharpened up.

The excellent video of actual approaches has to wait some more. Contour’s NFlightCam decided not to be a camera again today, but it enjoyed watching me fly five approaches in rain and turbulence. I can’t wait for a competitor to develop a supported video system for airplanes – I’ll grab one from a company that will stand behind it and continue its development.

2012-10-12 N833DF IMC
IFR Practice

Filed for KOXB and got into clouds around 3000′ over Dover. Once in, I stayed in rain and turbulence all the way to Ocean City.  The automation in this wonderful airplane is so incredibly capable – flying in the worst weather is easy.  I’m up here to be ready for emergencies, however, so I turned off the autopilot and flew the first approach manually.

I was transferred to Patuxent approach control, who cleared me at 2000′ and the CIRAN intersection. Down to 2000′ and the bumps were coming on big time. Configuring the airplane and turning at the same time I was descending and entering the holding pattern proved to be a handful. It was a reminder that I had to keep a focused scan when I found myself exceeding 20 degrees of bank and 800 fpm descent. Only for a few seconds, but not cool.  Back in the game now, I performed the procedure turn and set up for the landing. Flying the first approach of the day by hand keeps me honest.

Click for the full plate

I missed the subtle heading change on this approach, but multiple levels of GPS and automation, even when hand-flying, made it clear to me. Still – my approach briefing needs more work.  Down the chute where I broke out at 800′ and maybe 2 miles visibility. It was bumpy, but a landing was assured before I did the CRAM; CLIMB; CLEAN; COOL mantra. Back up into the clouds. After climbing on the missed approach, I was back in actual at 800′ and getting ready to get to Salisbury next. The controller wanted to know fixes and so forth, but he had a cup of coffee in hand, and I had a manually flown twin in turbulence, rain, and IMC that was trying to let me kill myself.  I told him I was flying the missed; wanted the GPS 05 into Salisbury, and he’d have to wait for a fix until I stabilized my approach and reconfigured. He got the message and gave me a heading and a climb to 3000′ – vectors for GPS 05 into Salisbury.

Now there was a commercial airliner on the scene from Piedmont, I believe, and a King Air competing for the same airspace. I kept the speed up and continued flying by hand to the GPS 05 IAF.


Like the recent philly experience into MQS (coatesville), I was vectored in fairly close to the FAF.  Little more than 2 miles from Edith for me; rocking and rolling inbound to runway 5 in solid IMC and rain.  Tower reports that there is a vulture circling in my approach path at 500′. I should break out at 800′, and have 300′ to see and avoid.  Hmmmmm…..

I do break out at 800′, but by 500′ I don’t have the vulture in sight. Hitting him would trash an engine, or hit me in the face and hurt me if my luck was really bad.  I found the runway about 2 miles out; and opted to climb on course back into the clouds.  I’m counting on the vulture not being IFR rated.

I had asked for, and prepared for, the ILS32 next.  The Patuxent controller was threatening very long delays and vectoring – trying hard to let me know I’d be in the way without saying as much. I wonder now what their instructions are regarding dealing with us general aviation folks….   Anyway, I got the hint, and figured I’d get just as much out of heading the Georgetown right now instead of getting in the middle of all this, so that is what I suggested.  I was cleared to Georgetown direct at this point. He was relieved. I was working it and trying not to be all too pleased with myself.

Handed off to Dover, but as usual, the geography for smoothly executing the GPS04 from TOWHE didn’t work out quickly enough. They were working a Cirrus out of Wings Field (KLOM), but cleared me into TOWHE just a bit late. This meant I’d need a procedure turn to make the approach, and the Cirrus (who was sounding every bit like a guy low on gas; high on priority; or annoyed with anyone else in his airspace) would have to wait.  Oh my – you’d think he was a light jet.

Anyway – I kept my speed up and flew the first approach successfully. On the missed; I paid attention to how much the Cirrus guy was talking and figured he wouldn’t be able to work with me if I were to execute a VOR22 or GPS22 with a circle to land. That was just my read on the guy, so I changed plans with Dover and told them I’d do another GPS04 from TOWHE – by hand. I was cleared and on my way before the Cirrus popped up again, and was well ahead of him on the approach.

Still – while I’m in IMC on my second appr0ach;  flying the twin by hand; in rain and bumps….   this guy comes up on the CTAF to remind me to cancel so that a Cirrus can complete his approach.   Really.  I was nicer than and expected to be, and nicer than I could have been.  Really. ‘preciate it dude.  Had he paid attention, he’d have known I was doing a low approach and would not be cancelling for his highness.

On the missed – cleared direct DURHM for the GPS 09 into Delaware Airpark.  I counted this approach too. It was close in that ceilings were about 2200’.  I was about to say – nah – don’t count it – but the rain got heavy enough to reduce my visibility inbound until the FAF.  I’m counting it.

I flew this one on my own and really had a great time. Some day I’m not going to be able to do this anymore, but I’ll always be able to talk about it.

Video next time.  I’m going to get something going there before Oshkosh 2014.


… fly safe – Frank


By fdorrin

Recently rated Gulfstream 280 pilot, working on instructor qualifications. WestWind and Astra corporate jet flight instructor. Contract corporate pilot. Own and operate a PA30 Twin Comanche. CFII; MEI; ME-ATP; SES; Typed in DHC-8, B-25, IAI-1124, IAI1125, G100, G280. Retired engineer / executive - Delmarva Power, Conectiv Energy, and PEPCO Holdings, Inc.