Busy AirportThe next morning the clouds were low at both my departure and destination airports. The clouds were forecast to be low enough at MYF that I had to file an alternate. They were low enough to not be VFR, but they were high enough they met my personal minimums for instrument flying.
|Lineman waits patiently as we get|
our clearances and program flight plans
It was time to go, I did my preflight and called for a weather briefing while the guys waited patiently. Then Paul started up the Lancair first and contacted clearance delivery for his clearance so I could hear the clearance he'd get. It was exactly what he told me to expect. It's always nice to fly with a pilot knowledgeable about the area. Then I got my clearance which was the same as Paul's. There is no run up area with the construction going on at Van Nuys so we did our run ups on the taxi way. Then we contacted the tower for our instrument release. The tower told Paul to pull up to the hold short line. I was told to wait where I was when I contacted the tower.
|Lancair interior, complete with "smoke on"|
button on the stick.
Up into IMCThe cloud layer was supposed to start around 1200 feet and be a couple thousand feet thick. The departure procedure told me to take off, turn to 110 and climb and maintain 1700 feet. The plane took off quick and climbed strong. Paul gave me a tip that a better climb rate gives more direct routing so I planned to ensure our climb was good. In no time we were in the clouds and I was hand flying at 1700 feet, waiting for SoCal departure to give me a new heading and climb. The wind from the plane was hissing in my friend's mike adding to the noise in the cockpit. Loud noises like that bother me but I tried to force myself to ignore it.
|CFI Paul and the Lancair|
Enroute to San DiegoAbove the low cloud layer we cruised according to plan and ATC control. My ground speed was slow compared to what I was used to and there was nothing to see below us but clouds. Rick tried to point out a couple landmarks but we couldn't see them in the clouds and haze. We tried plugging in his headset and every time the mike was plugged all the way end I could hear the wind. Neither of us could figure out how to stop it so eventually he unplugged the mike jack of his headset. I had to tease him for that, "Just think," I told him, "you are stuck in a plane with a woman and all you can do is listen to me talk." He plugged the mike back in for a moment to retort.
We were vectored back and forth across our route for traffic. The airspace was busy and the flight took a longer than expected but that was OK. We had plenty of fuel and it was anything but boring. When we approached San Diego our controller was working military planes off of Mirrimar making things even busier. Eventually he started giving me vectors for the approach into Montgomery Field.
IMC into MontgomeryOnce I established for sure I was going to keep getting radar vectors I activated the approach. Almost immediately I was cleared for the approach and could start descending straight into the clouds. I intended to continue to use the autopilot for headings while I controlled the altitudes manually. This method served me well in the past, but this time something was odd. I was coming in on the ILS approach so I made sure to turn the GPS over to CDI / OBS mode. Maybe that disabled the GPS portion of the autopilot. The autopilot did not turn the plane onto the localizer as I thought it should have. I recognized it 30 seconds late and was turning back towards the localizer when the controller asked me to let him know ... again ... when I was established on the approach. I turned off the autopilot and intercepted the localizer easily by hand.
|Paul and Rick ready to head|
back to VNY
I wasn't happy with the sloppiness and mistakes on the IMC portions of the flight. I couldn't blame ATC for being high on this approach, this one was all me. I knew I could fly instrument much better than this. I decided I would fly the full instrument approach back into RHV even if it was visual conditions to force myself to fly a proper glide slope and track. I definitely need more instrument practice if I am going to continue instrument flying. That was OK though, better some small, non deadly mistakes to point out where I need to improve. I knew how to fix this problem and resolved to do so.
Land Bound for a Couple Days
|Paul and Rick in front of N20791. |
Tied down at Gibbs Flying Service for a couple days.