Monday, April 16, 2012

Quiet! I'm Aviating!

My IFR training is progressing nicely I feel. I'm only one simulated flight away from flying in a plane again :)

Me flying the Redbird Simulator.
Last Friday was my first sim flight in the Redbird Simulator. This simulator is basically MS Flight Simulator on steroids. Really nice graphics (unfortunately, most of the flight is in the clouds, so the graphics are just a grey screen with simulated prop blur), totally different handling characteristics, and GPS simulation, which the Frasca doesn't have. The Redbird can be configured as any of a number of planes. Cessna 206 and 172, Beech Dutchess, glass panel or six pack or six pack plus GPS, etc.

My first Redbird flight was amusing. Because of a couple problems with the setup, my CFI and I decided to go ahead and use the Redbird as it was configured, which was for a Cessna 206. The biggest thing I've flown is a 172SP. I'm not trained in high horsepower so he handled the power settings, but I still had to handle the simulated plane and situations.

I was cleared for take off from RHV on 13R, took off and got to figure out how to handle a totally unfamiliar plane in IMC at the same time that I got to start including a GPS in my scan. I took off and started to dial in handling this plane while keeping it upright in IMC, responding to clearances from my CFI pretending to be ATC, and navigating the plane.

At first it was everything I could do to keep this simulated plane upright and going the general direction and altitude of my clearance. Then I was cleared to intercept Victor 334. I repeated back the clearance. I knew I had to go into the GPS and activate the leg to know where/how to do this intercept, but I was struggling with managing the plane and keeping it upright so I focused on that as a higher priority.

I was cleared again to intercept Victor 334. I acknowledged the clearance again. After about 30 seconds my CFI froze the simulation and asked me if I knew what I needed to do. I said, "Yeah, I know I need to select that leg on the GPS and intercept the leg, but screw that, I'm aviating! Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. Right?" He laughed and agreed and then turned the simulation back on.

I eventually intercepted Victor 334 and continued the simulation. It was fun. In the debrief he applauded my decision to Aviate. He was also very positive about how I quickly tuned into the handling characteristics of the very different simulated plane. I was pleased too.

The Redbird was configured as a Cessna 172 today. It didn't handle like my usual Cessna 172 but it was closer. We flew an ILS approach and a GPS approach. I did very good on the ILS. My CFI threw a gyro failure at me too. I recognized the failure quickly. He had the approaches set up were with weather at minimums. Wow. I am not at all interested in flying an approach down to minimums in real life! That's for people with more experience than me!

Anyway, I am enjoying this training quite a bit. Tomorrow I am going to visit the NorCal TRACON and meet some of the controllers I've been talking to for the last year or so of flying :)

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