There are just a couple things left to do to get my instrument rating. Today I completed my IFR cross country flight. It had to be at least two hundred fifty nautical miles, have three different kinds of approaches, and I had to visit three airports.
I arrived at the airport at 8:15am, leaving Nell to finish getting the boys ready and off to school. I completed a pre-flight inspection and called the tower on the radio to collect my IFR clearance. I had filed an IFR flight plan the night before with the computer. As I finished getting the information I needed, Liz showed up and we taxied over to the run-up area.
One of the cylinders feels like it might have a fouled plug, so I have tried to lean a little more aggressively on the ground. The tower was a little snippy since I was still on ground frequency while I was in the run-up (which I always am). They cleared me out and we took off.
It was a fairly uneventful flight up to Santa Maria, complete with a hold over the Guadalupe VOR, and we flew the missed approach. We then proceeded directly to Paso Robles where we flew the DME arc to the VOR approach. There were some clouds at 3,000 feet and the truth is that if I had wanted to get into Paso Robles that day I would have wanted to fly an instrument approach. There were some holes in the cloud layer, but you would have been pushing the VFR cloud clearances and then you would have been scud running to get to the airport.
The ride back home was more exciting, but it deserves its own entry.
So I now have the three hours within sixty days of the test and I have the IFR cross country. I need another eight hours of hood time, but I am going have another five lessons. If I need any more I will fly up and back to Santa Barbara with my friend Art as the check pilot. I am schedule to take the instrument check ride on October 24th, less than three weeks away.
This has been intense and difficult, and incredibly worth it. I heard recently that the group of pilots on the field that fly the Long-EZ sort of experimental airplane (flies like an F-15, pusher-prop with the engine behind you) all fly without instrument ratings. A ton of hours, but no rating. The further into it I am, the more I am convinced that it is a critical piece of the puzzle to reducing the risks of general aviation.