Mission Accomplished

Today the ceiling at my home airport was 600’, and I thought that I should shake out some IFR rust, go SPIFR (single-pilot IFR) and shoot a few local approaches in a Warrior.

I ended up flying only one approach.  So in that respect the mission was not fully accomplished.  But since I had my first real partial-panel in IMC, a bigger training mission had been accomplished.  Obviously, I landed after the failure.

I’ve done my instrument checks while taxiing.  When released, they had me turn to 040 after takeoff.   I turned a standard-rate turn as I was entering the soup, and noticed that the attitude indicator was showing a 35° bank.

That triggered a concern.  My next vector was 360.  By that time, a standard-rate turn according to the turn coordinator was 45° on the attitude indicator.  I checked  the circuit breakers, then declared the turn coordinator broken. Several minutes later it stopped responding.

Looking at the CloudAhoy track, my localizer intercept and tracking were not so good, although I did a fairly good job on the glide slope. I attribute my performance on the localizer to mostly rust but also to partial-panel.  Also, I think that it could have helped if ATC gave me a better intercept vector.

My takeaway for future flights: carry with me yellow stickies to cover failed instruments, to reduce the confusion.

All in all I flew only 0.25 hour air time.  The Hobbs was 0.85, because there was a line of airplanes waiting for release.  Actually Ground had me do my runup in a side taxiway (picture on the right), then told me to turn 180 and join the line.
0.6 hours overhead for just one approach was well worth it, though.


2 comments on “Mission Accomplished

  1. Glad you made it back safe. I won’t fly single pilot IFR in IMC without a functioning autopilot as a backup. With all I’ve read recently about pilots not declaring emergencies, I think I would have declared an emergency when I realized that I was partial panel in IMC. Then again, who knows what I’d do until I’m actually in the situation.

  2. Hi “Anonymous”,

    Thanks for your note! I was debating before the flight whether to take instead the club’s 172 equipped with a KAP 140 auto-pilot. I decided against it because it also has a G1000 and I wanted to practice with steam gauges. The Warrior has a backup vacuum which was comforting (and I used it in flight it to validate the reading on the AI). In hindsight, perhaps the 172 was a better choice for practicing SPIFR.

    I could be wrong, but I did not consider the failure of the turn coordinator as an emergency. In flight I did not remember the formula for computing the bank angle for a given airspeed, but I turned 15°-20° on the AI as an approximation.

    BTW, in most of my IFR cross-country flights I rent the club’s 182 with G1000 (GFC 700 auto-pilot). I feel that my stick-and-rudder skills are stagnating because of that…

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