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Old 12-14-2011, 11:46 AM
JDRhodes JDRhodes is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Taylorsville, GA
Posts: 748
Default IFR hesitations

I?m wondering about the best way to build my IFR confidence back. I?ve been IFR rated for six or seven years and used to fly a Bonanza and Cirrus (and C-182) ? company owned and rented - fairly frequently for business trips. I?m a pretty decent IFR pilot, I think, in that I have the ability to fly on the gauges and shoot accurate approaches, etc.
About 4 years ago, I had a minor icing encounter while in the clouds in a Cirrus that kind of rattled me. The airplane struggled out of the cloud tops with a good bit of ice and would barely maintain altitude about 200 above the clouds.
Since then, I have just avoided any IFR operations ? subconsciously, really. I tend to schedule flying trips and then cancel them if the weather?s anything but good VFR in the forecast. I?ve driven a lot of trips where I?ve kicked myself for chickening out of flying because the weather turned out to be perfectly flyable for SE IFR.
I lack confidence in my ability to accurately interpret weather forecasts and evaluate the realistic risk ? be it T-storms in the summer or ice in the winter.
How do I get myself back to the point where I can feel good about my evaluation of the weather situation and make more ?GO? decisions?
Jeff Rhodes - Taylorsville, GA
RV-9, 7 - going fast
BC-12D - going slow
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:54 AM
gbrasch gbrasch is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Arizona
Posts: 613

Seems like a simple solution, to an outsider like me at least. Find a good II and go do a instrument competency flight (s) with him or her..........
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:08 PM
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Flyfalcons Flyfalcons is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bonney Lake, WA
Posts: 295

Stay out of icing conditions in non-deiced planes. Problem solved.
Ryan Winslow
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:12 PM
Bob Axsom Bob Axsom is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 5,685
Default Set some good personal rules and fly IFR

If the current and forecast freezing level is below the cloud bases don't flight plan through clouds in that area. If you are flying above the freezing level and are going to enter clouds - don't except in an emergency. I have almost never entered a cloud at a temperature lower than freezing and not accumulated ice. Ice in clouds tends to accumulate faster near the top for some reason. I had an experience similar to yours in a Piper Archer off the coast between Morro Bay and Monterey but it carried the ice well as I climbed out of the top and I chalked it up as a learning experience not to be repeated. We who fly and survive seem to accumulate a few of these. Thunderstorms - well just avoid them don't let some avionic box or controller tell you it is OK to go somewhere that your eyes tell you you shouldn't go.

Fly and fly IFR by yourself in VFR conditions to get the routine operations back in your talent box. You don't need anybody else to tell you you are getting things under control.

Bob Axsom

Last edited by Bob Axsom : 12-14-2011 at 12:23 PM. Reason: clarify
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:18 PM's Avatar is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: WA
Posts: 995
Default It's really about flexibility...

Cross country in a small plane is more about flexibility in planning, destination, and time to get there rather than IFR vs VFR... I consider IFR as a tool to supplement VFR intentions if needed and go with the flow. With the speed and range of an RV (along with XM weather) you can navigate around most everything without much of an issue.

RV7 powered by a lycoming thunderbolt IO-390
turning a whirlwind HRT prop

with more hours flying than building... 2,535 on the hobbs!
ORCA Flight
Race 771
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:45 PM
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sbal0906 sbal0906 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Posts: 221

Originally Posted by JDRhodes View Post
I lack confidence in my ability to accurately interpret weather forecasts and evaluate the realistic risk ? be it T-storms in the summer or ice in the winter.
How do I get myself back to the point where I can feel good about my evaluation of the weather situation and make more ?GO? decisions?
Not having my IFR ticket yet, I'll just throw this out there. Perhaps, as an exercise, you can regularly get the weather reports, make your assessment and then check PIREPs to see what really happened. Do that whether you go flying or not. And then, when you're wrong, spend some time to figure out why.

Shamit Bal
Working on wing - fuel tanks.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:03 PM
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comfortcat comfortcat is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Southern California
Posts: 617
Default IFR confidence...

Maybe you are just more careful.

I have a friend who is a corporate pilot, and he will not fly a single engine in IFR at all. Personal choices.

For confidence, spend time with an instructor. Find someone you like and trust, and go fly. PPL friends who can fly with you under the hood are great too (I feed mine, and sometimes cost more than an instructor!

After I crashed a plane, I spent a considerable amount of time with a CFI just to get back to where I was.

David Boeshaar
RV-9A - N18TD (reserved) - Fuselage.
"My greatest fear: What if the hokey pokey really IS what its all about?"
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:57 PM
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boomer boomer is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Ladonia,Tx
Posts: 153

Jeff, I think you might want to analyse your situation in one of two ways:

1. You lack the knowledge to make good weather decisions, or
2. You're afraid of flying in clouds.

If #1 is the case, the solution is straight forward, do some homework, get some instruction, etc. Preparedness is the cure for nervousness.

However, if it's #2 then you have to face the problem head on:

First, accept that the icing incident you described was not minor. You were in danger and could have crashed if conditions were a bit worse. You were barely in control of a bad situation which you allowed yourself to get into. Who wouldn't want to avoid such situations?

Second, find your present confort level (IMC-wise) and begin to push your comfort envelope. If you are only comfortable with only flying VMC, file and fly an IFR flight where you will be in totally safe IMC (such as well away from the freezing level) for a short period to time. An example of this would be an instrument recurrency flight when the weather is low enough to put you in the clouds where you know icing is not a problem. Taking an instructor might be a good idea.

Third, when you are comfortable doing this, step up to the next level, say a short cross country flight in the clouds. Work up in this type of step-by-step fashion until you are comfortable flying IMC at the proper level for your experience and desires.

All that said, don't worry about making the wrong IFR No-Go decisions. What you need to worry about is making the wrong IFR Go decisions. Those are the significant mistakes. Everyone who has been in the flying business has been fooled by the weather. The trick is to be on the ground when you realize that you've goofed. It's no fun to be airborne.

BTW, I believe that I've flown inside every kind of cloud except a tornado, although I did nearly hit a water spout once. I write that just to say that there is nothing inside a cloud that I miss. I'm very happy to keep my IMC time to the absolute minimum. Flying IFR is work. Flying VFR is fun.

After all, you must be doing something right. You're still alive and kicking.

-John Banister
John Banister
RV-8 Engine (IO-360), Prop (CS)
Flying Since Aug, 2011
2017 Dues Paid
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Old 12-14-2011, 06:12 PM
dreamtime dreamtime is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: San Dimas, CA
Posts: 44
Default Thanks

Thanks for a helpful question and thread. Though I didn't stop flying IFR because of a bad experience, I've been struggling to make myself do the instrument proficiency check and get those skills back. These are helpful insights.
David Wright
-8 and -9 Preview Plans
Alexandria, IN
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:40 PM
terrye terrye is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 970
Default Inside the Sky

I would recommend you read William Langewiesche's "Inside the Sky - A Meditation on Flight", especially chapter 5 "Inside an Angry Sky" in which he takes less experienced pilots on trips looking for the worst weather they can find. This may be more worthwhile than just taking some recurrency training with an instrument instructor. Find someone that has flown LOTS of bad weather to show you where the edges are between the possible and not possible.
Terry Edwards
RV-9A (Fuselage)
2021/2022 VAF Contribution Sent
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