Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fun Flying!!! Rain and an ILS!--December 12, 2009


Woke up at 11:00 A.M.  ha!  What a change that was!  We all slept was beautiful.

I drove one of the guys over to his house, he gave us his car, and then I took a couple of the guys to Daytona Beach Int'l Airport where I dropped them off.  I dropped off my own luggage but had to go pick up two more guys from his house up north (about 35 miles).  I drove up there, then came back down with them.  All in all, a fairly slow and easy early afternoon.  I stopped at McDonald's on the way up since I missed breakfast and grabbed a sandwich, friends, and sweet tea.

Rain was spitting off and on.  It simply couldn't make up his mind, but it was definitely more prevalent up north.

Came back to Daytona, then filed IFR for the return trip back to Ft. Lauderdale.

Kenton and I packed up, filled up with fuel, then hit the skies.  I had requested 7000 for our cruising altitude.  They gave us 8000.  The first part of the trip wasn't too bad.  There were several layers of clouds, but we didn't stay in them for too long.  When I filed my flight plan, the Center person told me to watch out for some possible convective activity around the Melbourne area.  Well, as we came closer, I was actually given a vector to skirt to the west of Melbourne...I didn't complain.  We picked up some moderate rain for a short period, but it didn't last too long.

At one point, I could see pretty far down the sky, above the clouds, and I wasn't too happy about that!  So I requested 6000.  They gave it to me.  We hopped back down in "the soup."  I had been on auto-pilot, and frankly, it's just nice.  It's certainly safe, efficient, and often spot-on.  So it's just smart to use.  However, I wanted to fly "in the soup" myself, so I turned off the aut0-pilot and hand-flew part of the trip.  It's just good practice.  It was nice.  I tell you, my confidence has increased ten-fold in just two days of solid IMC flying.  I just don't do it often enough to keep that confidence up!!!  But my confidence level today was sooooooooo much higher than yesterday!  Once you trust the system, the airplane, and youself, it's just beautiful!!!  Today was good.  I love flying in the clouds!

We heard other aircraft requesting the holding pattern in Boca Raton in order to wait out the storm.  ha!  What were we going to find down in Ft. Lauderdale?!  I dialed up Flight Watch and asked what to expect.  They said there was a broken layer at 1000, and another layer at 2000.  Sweet.  I'll probably have to do an approach!

As we came closer, I was told to expect the ILS 8 approach into Ft. Lauderdale Executive.  Awesome!  An actual approach!  We descended to 4000.  Then 3000.  We could mostly see the ground off and on where we were through the clouds, but we also recognized the tall cumulus up above over Ft. Lauderdale.  We were on a collision course for a rather large mess of clouds up ahead.  I braced myself for what may become a very, very bumpy ride.  I turned down the second radio to focus on the commands we would be given for the approach.

We entered the cloud.  Rain.  It lasted a few miles.  Then we popped out for a short time.  I looked off to my left.  It was really really grey over there...all the way down to the ground.  It was definitely heavy rain.  We were given vectors to line up for the ILS.  We were about ready to head back into it all.

Back in.  Rain!  Moderate rain.  What a treat!  This is so much fun.

"Descend and maintain 2200 and intercept the localizer."

We were getting close to lining up with the approach, and Matt noticed that we hadn't switched from GPS mode to NAV mode on the VOR receiver.  A good catch.  Right on time, too.  I was right on top of the wonder the glide-slope hadn't started moving yet!  It's nice having another person in the cockpit.

Well, we were in the thick of it.  It was just me and the instruments.  Light rain, solid cloud.  I followed the glide-slope on down.  The winds weren't too bad, and I was able to hold that localizer fairly well.  A little to the right...a little to the left...stay on it...more power, less power, airspeed, flaps down...hold this airspeed, this power setting...follow it...left again...

Still in the cloud.

We were 1000 feet over the ground and still had no earth.  I kept flying.  We finally broke out at two miles from the airport...I think around 600-800 feet.  Kenton saw the runway.  Perfect.  Sure enough, there it was.  Further up than I anticipated (the two miles), but it was right where it was supposed to be!!!!!  I loooooooooooooove flying!!!!  I had nailed that approach.  Kenton even applauded the execution.

To the left was a MESS of grey down to the ground.  If that just just two miles south, I'm not sure we could have landed the first time.  Maybe.  But it would have been close.  It was pretty dark and thick.  I landed, taxied over, then parked.  What a perfect flight.  We had flown 2.8 hours total with over an hour in the clouds again...much of that in the last 30 miles.  IFR flying is a welcome relief to the countless hours I do in VFR!!!  Both have their place, but I sure appreciated the opportunity to fly in this mess.  It's so much more challenging...and just downright fun.

I should pay to have the views I have up there, but someone pays me!!!  What a life.

We checked back in to the hotel, waited for the other two guys to land, then went out to eat.  I spent the rest of the night catching up on paperwork and watchin' some sports.  Mom called to said she was ready to be's cold up there!

Went to bed at 11:30 P.M.  Not sure if we'll fly tomorrow.  Clouds are forecast at 3000.

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