Another instrument flight lesson today. Spent about 30 minutes on the ground asking my instructor questions for clarification from the ground school material I am studying. Then we briefed today's flight lesson.
We completed the preflight and taxied to Runway 33. With the run-up complete I donned the "hood" for another zero-zero take-off. This is the third time I have performed a zero-zero take-off and I guess I am getting used to it, because I was not the least bit apprehensive about it today. (Though it is still not natural to hurl yourself down the runway without looking at what is out there or whether you are still on the runway).
Settled into cruise flight in the practice area today was bumpy, difficult to hold a heading. I flew some slow flight with turns, climbs, and descents.
Back in cruise the bumpy air made it noticeably more difficult to hold a heading and I found myself "fighting" the airplane to keep it "wings level". Each time a bump would try to upset the balance of things, I would immediately react on the flight controls to counter what I was seeing on the panel. After awhile I realized the airplane would generally right itself from all but the most severe departures.
I later flew 20 or minutes of "partial panel" flight with both the Directional Gyro (DG)and the Attitude Indicator (AI) "failed" (covered). This was tough flying given the rough air. With no AI, we use the Rate-of-Turn gyro (electric gyro) and the magnetic compass to maintain level flight and direction. Not easy when the Rate gyro is dancing all over with the continual bumps. Using a VOR radial in conjunction with the compass made holding a heading easier than I anticipated.
We made a few more compass turns and timed turns, then called it a day with a localizer approach to Runway 33. Quite a workout but fun flying.
Today I completed my third IFR flight lesson. Through these few lessons I have discovered that IFR flight is nothing like I expected when I began this training. Though unable to see beyond the panel, the flying is far more precise, more accurate, than I have experienced flying VFR. While building on the fundamentals of VFR, there is an inherent precision to IFR that makes it challenging and satisfying.
To date the training has focused on the fundamentals of controlling the aircraft with only references to the instruments. Skills learned thus far include altitude, attitude, and speed control. Straight and level flight; turns - standard rate, 30 degree, and steep turns. Stalls and falls - power on/off. Slow flight. Constant rate and constant airspeed climbs and descents. Climbing and descending turns. All the things we learned in primary training, except we are using only the flight instruments. In addition, we have accomplished zero/zero takeoffs twice (not crazy about those), and flew an ILS approach.
At the conclusion of lesson two, we flew the ILS Approach to Robins Runway 33. That experience ranked pretty close to my initial solo. Although being coached every step of the way by my instructor, I flew the approach. At minimums I removed the "hood" (view restriction device) and directly before me was the runway. The system worked just like the books say. I knew it would, but seeing it, understanding it, and experiencing it whetted my appetite for more. This stuff is difficult at times, but the challenge is quite rewarding.