Today’s lesson was my first cross country IFR flight. It has always been my plan to do my flight test in the club’s Cessna 182; partially because it has better instruments (an HSI), partially because it flies faster and mostly because I plan to spend more time renting the 182. It’s faster, has a better useful load and is a great airplane. So, as such, today’s flight was in the 182.
I preflighted the plane as per normal, though I did a quick check of all the instruments we were going to need, tuning in the VOR and ADF to ensure their functionality. I didn’t see any reason to discover a problem with them after starting up and taxiing to the run-up area. Then I headed inside to give my plan to instructor Jason, since he would be the one filing the flight plan. Our planned route today was CYBW direct YC (Calgary NDB) direct 5V (Drumheller NDB) direct YYC (Calgary VOR) direct CYBW. We would be doing a hold over 5V and approaches at Drumheller and Calgary International.
The flight started out with a 10 minute delay as Springbank Tower waited for Calgary Terminal to slot us into their plan. ”Welcome to the world of IFR,” commented Jason. After takeoff however, our time in Calgary’s airspace was uneventful, with us being vectored around, which was no big deal as that is pretty standard when doing any flying around the Calgary area. The only difference was that this time I had the hood [of shame] on to keep me from peeking out the window. We were cleared direct to the Calgary NDB, which we did and after giving a position report (which although wasn’t required since we were RADAR IDENTIFIED was done for practice), we were cleared direct Drumheller [NDB]. And that’s when things went wrong.
I tuned, identified and tested the ADF for Drumheller and took up a heading that the ADF pointed to. Except that the heading seemed about 20 degrees too much to the north. And when the Calgary Terminal controller cleared us again to go “…direct Drumheller now” I was pretty sure that the ADF was steering us off course. A quick check of the VFR-only GPS confirmed what we suspected; the ADF was not functioning properly. At all. But since we weren’t sure if it was just a distance thing or what, we decided to continue on to Drumheller to see if we could still get in a hold and an approach.
Unfortunately, the ADF continued to act up and upon our arrival at Drumheller, we simply turned around and requested a clearance back to the Calgary VOR. In hindsight, Jason should have asked the Centre controller for a DME hold using the Calgary VOR. That said, I did get some instrument practice and I was able to fly through some cloud, all be it for perhaps 15 seconds, for which I was able to remove the hood. It was very cool to look out of the aircraft and see nothing but white. Very cool indeed.
Upon our return to the Calgary Terminal area, we were cleared to intercept the localizer for runway 16 and cleared for the ILS 16 approach. I intercepted the localizer perfectly, and kept the speed up until the FAF, but overall the approach was erratic in terms of speed and course. But at the decision height when I pulled off the hood, the runway was within limits for a safe landing. So, overall, I would say that it was a good first effort, especially since I can only get better with practice. We then went missed on the approach, cancelled IFR and flew back to Springbank. Overall, a great first IFR flight.
Flight time: 2.0 hrs
Instrument time: 1.3 hrs (hood)