Tagged: Aviation

Going IFR

So now that I finished up my quest for the private pilot’s license, the next step is to get my instrument rating. The instrument rating allows pilots to legally fly in all kinds of weather conditions, but more importantly, pilots with instrument certification tend to be much safer pilots.

After spending nearly three years training for my private at a local outfit, I concluded that there is simply no way I can train locally on the weekends for IFR training. My best bet for success is to use an accelerated course, consisting of 10+ days of intense training.

The perquisites for attending such training are:

  • Completed FAA Written IFR Exam
  • 45 hours cross country PIC

The written IFR exam is much harder than the written private exam. So it will take a few months of intensive studying/DVD training for me to get to the point where I could do well on the IFR written. The total cost may be $500.

The 45 hours cross country PIC is definitely an expensive requirement for a new private pilot. I may need about 35 additional hours. In a Cessna 172 that’s about $5000. In a 152 its only $3100. It might make sense to spend a few hundred getting checked out in a Cessna 152 to build a bunch of cross country time and save a bit of money..

The programs for IFR typically run around $6000-8000, so assuming $7000 is a safe bet, then its time to figure out accommodations and expenses. Flying to a warm destination like Arizona, spending 11 nights in a hotel, and you need to eat too. I’m guessing $200/day for hotel/food, and maybe $1000 for travel expenses.

Adding it all up:

  • $500 written prep/test
  • $5000 35 hours Cross Country PIC time
  • $7000 11 Day IFR program
  • $2200 Hotel/Food
  • $1000 airfare/car rental
  • $400 IFR checkride

Total: $16,100

Now I might be able to get that down to $14,000 by flying a 152, getting a good deal on a motel, and eating crappy food every night, but its still a lot of money.

No wonder why there are so many broke pilots out there. On the bright side, an IFR certification is something that lasts a lifetime, and it significantly reduces the risks associated with a low time pilot. After all, over 80% of general aviation accidents are due to pilot error.

I would rather be a safe broke pilot, than a dead dumb pilot.

There is an article in today’s USA Today about the TSA targeting general aviation.

It looks like the airline lobbyists are gaining influence by having the TSA target general aviation for no reason.

The threat is real, said aviation-security consultant Glen Winn, former United Airlines security chief. Some small airports reserved for private planes “really don’t have a lot of security,” which would make it easy for someone to steal a small jet, Winn said. “There’s a huge window that’s open, and I do believe they’ve got to close that,” Winn added.

Wow, someone can steal a small jet and do what with it? What can someone do with a small jet that cannot be done with a U-haul or even a small car?

The fact of the matter is, GA has not been used in any recorded terrorist attack because it doesn’t make any sense. This is simply a case of the TSA being pushed by lobbyists to fix a non-existent problem.

The weather cleared up enough today for my first flight to Wilkes-Barre. I managed to fly direct to KWBW, in Forty-fort Pennsylvania, where I picked up my father for a little joyride to his house.

One the way to KWBW there were a few clouds at 4500, so I kept the Skyhawk at 3500ft. A few light rain showers popped up near Hazleton, so we flew between the precipitation. Scattered rain showers are easily identifiable and avoidable from the air during a clear day.

I was planning on using runway 25 at KWBW, but it turned out that runway 7 was the active. I overflew the field at 2500, and made a quick descent for a 45 degree entry towards runway 7.

The layout of KWBW is a little different than the airports I’m familiar with. First off , there is no taxiway parallel to the runway. So pilots have to “backtaxi” on the runway. There also is no AWOS weather reporting station nearby, just a ground level windsock that is absolutely useless.

My touchdown at KWBW was smooth, and we taxied to the parking area. I was planning on taking my father for a little scenic flight, but there were a few scattered showers coming in from the northwest. Using Foreflight on the iphone, I was able to determine that the weather would clear up soon.

We grabbed a bite to eat, and took off for a very short sightseeing trip around Dallas, PA.

After about 30 minutes, I dropped off my father, and Lindsey and I were back in the air headed to KMQS. As we departed west, the Geisinger lifeflight helicopter flew above us off our left wing.

After getting past KHZL, the sky cleared up, and I was able to climb to my designated VFR cruising altitude of 4500 ft. As we approached the familiar 45 degree pattern entry for KMQS, I was greeted by an older Skylane entering from the south. We touched down at KMQS, and finished the day after 2.8 hours total flight time.

This was also the first flight for my new Lightspeed Zulu headset, which is quite an improvement over my old one. I now know what the fuss is about..