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After a number of weeks of the simulator, it was finally my turn to return to the aircraft.

The weather has been fairly poor here over the last few days, but that has in fact been a good thing, it offers an excellent training ground for instrument flying.

On Friday, I flew twice with Henrik. We initially took-off under the familiar Visual Flight Rules or VFR, and we departed the airports control zone using the VFR procedure. But, we then decided we’d be better getting on top of the low cloud base that lay over the area, between about 900ft and 2,000ft. To do this we went Instrument Flight Rules IFR, and climbed above.

So, I brought my eyes down to the instruments, and I began the climb. It was an interesting experience. This was my first time climbing into real Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), where weather conditions outside are such that you have to entirely rely on your instruments. Of course I’ve experienced this condition in the simulator the last few weeks, but in the real world the graphics are considerably better, and this creates extra senses that I hadn’t quite anticipated.

One such sense, I noticed during the transition into the cloud. I hadn’t expected the amount of activity that would be going on in my peripheral vision. Bearing in mind that the aircraft is moving through the air at about 185Kph, the fluffy stuff shoots by the canopy quite quick. I found this quite a distraction to keeping the instrument scan, not that I wanted to look out, but it was just a lot of extra sensory information, that I hadn’t expected. Once in the cloud, this isn’t an issue. As the flight continued, with some cloud surfing I got the chance to tune out this unwanted distraction, but it was good to experience it.

Somewhat ironically, a piece of equipment that’s normally used to prevent student pilots seeing out of the cockpit when training for instruments, probably would have prevented this. It is the norm, that IR students wear a pair of foggles, which limit the students view to the instrument panel. I’m yet to see anyone being asked to use them here. To be honest, even if there’s 100 miles visibility and not a cloud in sight, I’m not quite sure what benefits there is, to looking out the window when flying instruments. I find I certainly fly a lot more accurately, once focused on the instruments and typically once your vision goes out the window, so does the accuracy.

To add to that, personally I’d prefer learn in the same environment that I will experience in the real world of flying. And, I’m pretty sure instrument rated pilots don’t wear foggles.

Once above the cloud layer, we did a bit of airwork, just to get used to the aircraft again. Some steep turns, climbs etc., and we ended the lesson returning to Kalmar, via Air Traffic Controller (ATC) vectors, to an ILS approach.

The second flight on Friday, was back to visual rules once again. This time it was later in the afternoon and the cloud had risen by 5-600ft so we were able to leave the control zone, do some more air work, engine failures, stall procedures. Then returning again still VFR, to some touch and goes. We had decided before the lesson that it would be a good idea to do some touch and goes, as there was a nice 10-15 knots of crosswind.

Yesterday I flew again, this time with Mathias. We started out with a SID to the North, and the plan was to return via a STAR, to an ILS for runway 16. Once again the visibility was very poor and we were in cloud by 350ft on departure. The SID went fine, so we turned back for the STAR, which was all going well until ATC asked us to break off the approach, as he had arriving traffic. So we did just that, and used the time for some more air work, before eventually getting vectors back to the ILS. The weather had picked up quite a bit at the airport, as you can see below in the video, the clouds had become scattered and at about 600ft for the approach. It was another good quality learning exercise though.

Foggles are definitely no   use when your in thick IMC at 350ft.

Foggles are definitely no use when your in thick IMC by 350ft.

Tomorrow, I’ll be the only one using the aircraft, with Mathias instructing, we’re planning to make good use of the day, knocking out a another chunk of flying. Maybe visiting a few different airports in the mean time.

So, hopefully I’ll have some more interesting stories to tell in the coming days, and weeks.

Finally, a quick video of the ILS approach, taking yesterday with Mathias.