Friday, September 29, 2006

Snowbird Practice

R. is a sim student who is working on getting his instrument proficiency back. He owns a lovely Piper Lance, and we met a few weeks ago when I did his flight review. Although he is instrument rated, he has not used it very much. I mentioned that he might be interested in Wings of Mercy Minnesota, a volunteer organization of pilots similar to Angel Flight. R. was interested and decided the sim was the perfect tool for regaining his instrument proficiency.

He is flying the sim configured as a Bonanza. We started with the basics, and it quickly became apparent that his initial training was good, although there was a bit of rust to be removed. He progressed through the basics, including partial panel work. The sim, incidentally, does very nice mag compass turns, which is quite satisfying after working in the Frasca. The only time the Frasca could do a mag compass turn correctly was if you were turning to a heading of either due east or due west. After going through the basics, all types of holding, and DME arcs, today it was time to start approaches.

R. and his wife are “snowbirds”, leaving Minnesota in mid-October for their home in Florida. Since we were starting on approaches today, I suggested he bring in plates for the airports close to their Florida home. So he brought in the GPS-4 approach for Winter Haven (KGIF), the GPS-27R approach for Bartow KBOW), and the ILS-5 for Lakeland (KLAL). Since the sim has a Garmin 430, as does his Lance, it was perfect.

It was a snap to load the USSE database, which included Florida. I positioned the plane at Lakeland, and he soon ready for takeoff. First came the GPS-4 into Winter Haven. He was vectored to go directly to the intermediate waypoint BEZDU. We did that approach twice, and then I vectored him for the GPS-27R at Bartow. Finally we finished up with the ILS-5 at Lakeland. The first ILS was vectors, and the second one included one turn around holding, which serves as the PT.

R. did a good job. But the thing that stands out in my mind was the ease of switching the Elite AATD from Minnesota to Florida. This was somewhat of a messy procedure in the Frasca. It is a far superior procedure in the Elite. And best of all, when R. and his wife depart for Florida in a couple of weeks, he will be fresh on the approaches at all three airports.

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