Perhaps the most important question you will ask yourself in your flying career, whether business or pleasure is, Why Should You Get An Instrument Rating?
Why Should You Get An Instrument Rating?
An instrument rating will fine-tune your level of proficiency, build more confidence, and make you a far safer pilot. You have freedom of choice on when to fly because you are legal to fly in the clouds. Instrument training will give you more precise control of power, pitch, altitude, airspeed, and heading.
1. The Requirements For An Instrument Rating.
a. Speak, read, write, and understand English. It’s the International language of aviation.
b. Possess a Private Pilot Certificate.
c. Attend an Instrument Ground School or ground instruction from a Ground Instructor, or home study. I recommend a weekend Ground school because you take the written immediately following and you are guaranteed a pass.
d. You must have a logbook endorsement certifying you are ready for the written exam.
2. The Basics. (Getting Your Instrument Ticket).
The first thing to learn about instrument flying is that it really isn’t difficult and it’s really a lot of fun! This is the time to master your ability to manipulate an inner space vehicle.
It is simply hand-to-eye coordination and being precise about it, especially with your scan.
The best time to begin an instrument flying syllabus is immediately after your private certificate.
There is no time restriction on the instrument course so you can log 40 more hours towards your commercial which requires 250 hours.
You really must do the instrument class for your own safety and anyone that may be flying with you. It is always about safety.
3. The Radio.
Yes, I know, the dreadful radio.
Radio work is not that hard to learn and get the hang of, and it is essential to know when and what to say when you key the mic.
If radios scare you, buy a handheld transceiver from a pilot shop and do a lot of listening and believe me it will really build your confidence with radios.
You will want to have a handheld radio in case of an electrical failure or a loss of your plane’s radio anyway si it’s justified.
You can listen to a host of Youtube videos on Air Traffic frequencies like this one to help you as well.
4. The Numbers.
The number of aircraft accidents due to inadvertent flight into IMC, (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) is appalling. The statistics show that over 80% of accidents due to inadvertent flight into IMC results in a fatality.
One preventable death is worth the effort, and for all of these flights, I would venture that all but a few are preventable.
The best possible scenario is a training environment that includes the elimination of controlled flight into the clouds resulting in an accident or fatality.
The start of that is to teach pilots to fly and practice instruments consistently and professionally. That is hard to do if you do not fly each month. Flight simulators can help since you practice thinking ahead of the airplane. It is essential to stay ahead of the airplane.
I flew 5 to 6 days a week so staying proficient was never a problem and having flown thousands of hours at night in the mountains in all kinds of weather I do know the ropes.
Our lives are governed by the prevalent and forecasted weather. All of us know that the weatherman isn’t always right so we must be weathermen as well.
As an instrument pilot, it is my responsibility to assure the safe and positive outcome of each mission. Informed and precise weather briefings are necessary for determining the safest flight.
Weather briefers will become your best friends when venturing into the sky. And you can access them in flight at any time for updates.
Pilot reports are a big help when they are present especially in marginal conditions.
Weather is always an unknown element of flight as you really only know the available data and it may not even be close to what is really present so be prepared for anything. The only time you can not fly is into any severe weather, especially icing. Severe is not a good flying word.
6. The Next Step.
Choosing an instructor is not a big issue as everyone will teach the stuff you need to pass a check-ride. You choose your own pace.
No instructor will force you to do anything you do not want to do but they will bend over backward to get you to an Instrument Ticket.
Just remember that you have the knowledge for your pilot certificate and your instrument rating but it makes you susceptible to being very dangerous. Like a kid with a new toy!
Honestly though, now it is time to put what you learned to work for you. It’s time to learn to fly in the clouds.
With that new ticket in hand go find a highly experienced instructor or pilot and ask them to fly with you and fine-tune your skills.
When I headed North from Idaho Falls ID in January 1976, with a brand new Cessna 172 and a pilot’s license (Certificate) I felt very happy and proud of my achievement.
It was not long until I realized that I needed more skills because I was flying a single-engine piston airplane into the mountains of Northwestern Montana,
Winter, there is cold with predominantly overcast skies so an Instrument rating was essential.
It is absolutely essential that you get an Instrument Rating so that you are a safer pilot
Remember that the task is to learn a new language that is spoken worldwide by pilots and controllers.
Instrument flying is really a lot of fun with spectacular views of our planet that you have not seen yet.
If you aspire to become an Airline Pilot, you are one step closer.
Mostly, even though the work is hard and since it is all on you to gain as much knowledge and experience as you can in acquiring this level of achievement the reward is a level of expertise with your airplane and how to drive it.
You will rarely be stopped by weather anymore so learn the rules, be situationally aware, and develop an excellent scan.
You will be fine. When you have passed the check ride, practice, and practice. Find someone to fly with you and be the eyes outside the plane. They don’t have to be pilots and there is always someone who wants to go flying. You might get lucky and find a retired commercial pilot that knows their stuff! Have fun and learn, the more you fly the more confidence you gain in your new freedom.
The first time you are all alone in an airplane and realize you must have an IFR clearance it will put you on point, but you know how to do it so have fun and maybe a beer later to celebrate. It’s all about safety.
If you follow the rules you eliminated yourself from the statistic of CFIT, controlled flight into terrain. As well as an inadvertent flight into clouds, (IMC) in meteorological conditions.
Let’s go FLYING!