Circling approach!

Today I had a lesson in the Red Bird Simulator (whats new) and we went to a different airport other than my home airport. This provided for new approaches to learn, new courses to enter, and new frequencys to bother with. As usual we did a couple ILS approaches and then proceeded to do a multitude of VOR approaches. Since all the approaches we did today were vectored approaches (where the ATC controller guides you in to get established) I found them a piece of cake. To be honest so far in the sim I havent felt super challenged, I think this stuff somehow is in my blood and comes naturally to me. Being able to keep heading, speed, and altitude consistent isn’t a challenge for me. Im sure this will change when put in actual instrument conditions.

Next, we did a lot of holding patterns. I find holding to be honestly the hardest part of an approach. Why? Well I think it’s the fact that you go from a approach to land then have to transition quickly into a new procedure. To minimize the workload on a missed approach though, it is wise to have your frequencies set for the holding fix you’ll fly missed to. Then once you get to the fix at the determined altitude, its a matter of making a tear drop or parrellel entry into the hold and then do one minute legs with standard rate turns. Confused? Just think of it as a very precise pattern you would do to land only a little more ovally.

Finally, we did one more approach to finish the session because we were nearing our 2 hours mark for the day and that’s enough to be in a sim for a day. As I came in on the VOR 14 approach, Approach Control (my flight instructor) cleared me to do a circling approach for runway 32. This was a complete new thing to me and I had no clue there was more to a circling approach than just going in and landing opposite runway. I learned that the 2 main concerns when doing a circling approach is to always keep your eyes on the runway when at minimums, and stay out of the clouds once at minimums. The tricky thing is, that if at any point you loose sight of the runway, or go into any sort of clouds you have to execute the filed missed approach procedures. No if, and, or buts about it. But anyway, I circled and made a smooth touch down to end the lesson. I learned a lot today and was glad to knock down another 1.7 hours instrument in the books.

Until Next Time,

Pilot Ian