View Full Version : The Instrument Flight experience

26th Apr 2009, 14:59
What's it like to fly with cloud all around you? Seeing nothing when you look up.

Is it scary, or something you get used to? Or do you not even notice the cloud because you are concentrating on your instruments?

Please post your comment on flying in clouds.

Scumbag O'Riley
26th Apr 2009, 15:07
Starts off being a tad disconcerting.

Then becomes interesting.

Then quickly becomes boring.

Then as you become older and wiser becomes very disconcerting.

All single engine piston. In the back of the bus on occasion can be exciting, though really shouldn't be.

26th Apr 2009, 15:18
Really sounds like you love flying!

26th Apr 2009, 15:20
Just joking man. If that's your opinion then fine. Aynone else?

Chesty Morgan
26th Apr 2009, 15:21
I tend not to notice either way.

The Telegraph crossword is very involved:confused:

Scumbag O'Riley
26th Apr 2009, 17:32
Really sounds like you love flying!You asked about in clouds.

Now if you asked about Super Cubs and Pitts Specials....... :ok:

26th Apr 2009, 19:11
O! That's pretty cool. So you do aerobatics? That must be a thrill!

26th Apr 2009, 20:28
Hey Captain, as part of my PPL training a few years ago you do a bit of instrument appreciation where you either fly in some cloud or wear a hood that blocks your view out the window, to simulate nil visibility.

I saw myself as quite a competent flyer. I picked up flying quite quickly, my first ever landing was a good one, I had managed a few greasers and my first solo was after 11.3 hours of flying instruction over about two months.

Years of flight simulation had certainly helped, but I was truly SHOCKED when my instructor John and I edged up into a 3000ft overcast in our trusty Warrior.

We started off ok. Flew straight and level for a minute or so, John with his hands on his knees watching quietly, my sweaty palms starting to grip the yoke tighter and tighter. Then we started to turn to the right. John prompted me...

John: You're turning right.
Me: Ok... (very little corrective action taken by me)

A minute or so later...

John: You're still turning right, and now we're climbing.
Me: Ok... (managed to turn the climb into a shallow descent but the bank slowly increased)

30 seconds later...

John: I have control...

You can see on the instruments what is happening to the aircraft, whether you are turning or climbing etc. but reacting to it is quite another thing with no training. I was almost completely relying on my ears for balance and although we were turning right, that's what my ears felt was straight and level and I was powerless to change it.

We finished up in a descending right turn, about 20 degrees of bank and for a good 10 minutes afterwards I was completely disorientated, only slowly getting my composure back when I could see the horizon once more.

Put simply if I was on my own in that aircraft I would have lost control.

So for me flying in clouds was a huge eye opener, which is strange considering you can see very little...

26th Apr 2009, 20:57
Avoids rock filled ones


Gertrude the Wombat
26th Apr 2009, 22:45
Where d'you find this "cloud" stuff then? - every time I book an instrument flying lesson it's clear blue skies, so we have to make do with the foggles or whatever which aren't the same thing at all.

26th Apr 2009, 23:14

DX Wombat
26th Apr 2009, 23:17
every time I book an instrument flying lesson it's clear blue skies,Same here - apart from the one day of proper IMC when the lesson had to be discontinued when we encountered icing (unforecast) at FL40 over the Brecon Beacons. :ooh: :eek: :uhoh: A swift about turn and return to home ensued with descent to a less icing-prone level once the danger of an unplanned landing on one of the Beacons had passed.

Two's in
26th Apr 2009, 23:21
Quick guide to booking IF time;

Relaxed, jocular, easy going manner - Sim

Hair up on the back of your neck, eyes never leaving the panel, - Actual

27th Apr 2009, 00:04
Spot on 2-in!

I was idly glancing at the POH for my 1962 Cessna 172B the other day and noticed the advice they give if you get caught in cloud.

Hands off the control wheel! Use your feet to keep the turn needle and slip ball centred and reduce power to give a controlled rate of descent if terrain clearance allows. Hands off the control wheel!

Same POH advises against landing nosewheel first!

Captain Sand Dune
27th Apr 2009, 03:43
Hands off the control wheel!:eek:
You're kidding.........aren't you?!
I guess VMC were different in those days.:hmm:

27th Apr 2009, 03:52
Same in my 1971 POH, I don't think I've got a lot of of confidence in their advice. :eek:

Captain Sand Dune
27th Apr 2009, 06:35
Amazing! Imagine how much yawing the aircraft in cloud in an attempt to keep it wings level would screw up your head. A great way to induce dis-orientation IMHO.

27th Apr 2009, 06:36
of course you could also enter a controlled spin and then recover when out of the cloud bank.

Make sure that it's not a fog bank though :eek:

27th Apr 2009, 10:57
every time I book an instrument flying lesson it's clear blue skies,

Makes me wonder: I know where to send you if you want year round blue skies, but where are the world's most reliable clouds? Is there somewhere a Mosquito Swamps IMC Academy or whatever where they guarantee a proper IMC experience every flying day?

Never would have thought of Cambridge though.

27th Apr 2009, 11:17
I enjoy it generally when I'm supposed to be IMC. For some reason I'm particularly comfortable at night in IMC. Not sure why, it's counter intuitive as flying is normally all about freedom, blue skies and all that poetic stuff. But for some reason I find sitting in a noisy darkened box somewhere in space almost.........cosy.:O

I don't like it much, when it's bumpy and I shouldn't be there. Particuarly when there's distractions going on. Let that be a warning to those of you who spent a bit of time in cloud with your instructor, all very controlled and safe. It's a whole different ball game in bumpy cloud, climbing, descending or turning when the speed is falling away or increasing, the bank angle steepens and the ball is pinned to one side or other. The only thing that can save you then is your hours and hours of training. Assuming you've had hours and hours of training.

Those fluffy fair weather cumulus look harmless enough until you fly through one.:eek:

27th Apr 2009, 20:11


For more: http://www.swamp.com.au (http://www.swamp.com.au/)

Gertrude the Wombat
27th Apr 2009, 20:46
It's a whole different ball game in bumpy cloud
On my XC IF navex I more or less deliberately picked a level that kept us in cloud most of the time (my lucky day!). Bumpy it was indeed.

Then my instructor showed me a clever trick, which actually worked - slow down and it stops being bumpy. I'll remember that one.

(Actually I have to confess to not worrying about the bumps too much, I was too interested in the vacuum pump failure indication. Don't let anyone tell you that "the engine doesn't know you're over water" - the instruments certainly know when you're in cloud, all my interesting instrument failures have been in IMC.)

27th Apr 2009, 23:35
the instruments certainly know when you're in cloud, all my interesting instrument failures have been in IMC.) Indeed they do, I've had the AH get a case of the leans in cloud, only the presence of the stand by AH prevented me from following it. On another flight the stand by AH went nuts and when I glanced at it, mainly from lack of trust in the primary. I actually for a second or two had a disorientating moment as it indicated a screaming inverted dive.:eek: Just for that moment you don't know which one is actually accurate.

27th Apr 2009, 23:43
Just for that moment you don't know which one is actually accurate.

That's why I always fly with a cat, if the cat is upside down on the cockpit ceiling, you are inverted. :p

27th Apr 2009, 23:49
Now way, first off cats can cling upside down to the ceiling, confusing you. Secondly if you do get yourself inverted they clamp themselves onto your head. It's a good indication of inversion but bloody painful.:ok:

28th Apr 2009, 00:16

That's why I always fly with a cat, if the cat is upside down on the cockpit ceiling, you are inverted.

I see you are familiar with The cat, duck and tree method of instrument flying.

Any pilot that has more than 10 minutes of helicopter instrument hood time will tell you, maintaining attitude is the most important thing that you must do when flying instruments. Unless the “dirty side” is down, things such as fuel remaining are just not very important. Thus, the CAT is the most important part of this technique. Not just any cat, but a special feline that fits the required specifications to become your primary attitude indicator. As any young lad can attest, when a cat is tossed into the air, it will always land on its feet. Therefore, you can use a good cat as your attitude indicator. Be sure that you select a very alert cat, not one that is prone to curl up and sleep. One that has part of it’s tail missing (probably from a rocking chair incident) or one with singed fur, will be more apt to remain alert, due to the fact that it has already lost several of it’s nine lives.

Now in your helicopter, you will need a flat level place atop the instrument panel for the cat to stand and be in plain view as you fly the aircraft. If your cat has been de-clawed, you will want to provide a sheet of sandpaper for the cat to stand on so that it can get a good grip during turbulence. Be sure to use a fine grit sand paper, as you don’t want the cat to think that this is the sand box, or you will soon have other problems to deal with during your instrument flying experience.

Next we need to find a DUCK for use as our approach aid. We all know that ducks will not fly in bad weather, so all we need to do is throw the duck out the window and follow it down to the ground. But alas, things are not that simple. Most ducks like to land on water, and unless your helicopter has pop out floats, be careful. So after much testing and deliberation, I have determined that the little ducks with a white ring around their neck and dark green wing feathers, are the ones that like farmer’s fields and should be used to find large open areas in which to land. Do not feed you duck corn, as they will prefer corn fields. You should feed the duck any other grain that is short stemmed and easy to land your helicopter in (golf course grass seeds work well).

Anyone that has watched cartoons knows what will happen if the cat and the duck get together. Cats like birds! So you must keep the duck in a covered cage, but within easy reach. This is very important, don’t let the cat know that you have a duck onboard the helicopter, or your primary attitude reference will be totally useless. One more important note that I almost forgot, you will need to modify the duck by clipping some of the wingtip feathers. You will need to do this through “trial and error” until you clip just enough so that the duck cannot maintain level flight, but must descend at around 500 feet per minute. Otherwise, the duck will fly around VFR on top until you run out of fuel.

One more thing---beware of hunting season!!!! Need I say more.

There you have it, a simple easy to use method to fly IFR. No longer will you need JEPP, SIDS, STARS, NOS, WAC or any of those other silly letters. Just a cat, duck and tree. OH, I almost forgot, the tree. Yes, you will need to find a small pine tree, in a little flower pot, that will fit on top of the instrument panel. Remember to water the tree and if you keep your helicopter in a hangar, you will need to provide a sun lamp, but be careful where you place the sun lamp, as moss will only grow on the north side of a tree. Thus, you can use the tree for navigation and always know which way is north. Now that pesky cat will want to use the tree to sharpen it’s claws, so you may need to install a fence between the cat and the tree to ensure the accuracy of the moss on the north side of your tree.

If you have a small dog, you can bring them along to help keep the cat awake and standing upright. Which reminds me of the story of the airline pilot that boarded the aircraft and walked into the cockpit to find a dog sitting in the right seat. He turned and asked the cabin attendant, “...what is this?”. She said that this was one of those fully automatic airplanes that can fly itself. “OK”, said the pilot, “but what is the dog doing here?” She said, “he’s here to bite your hand should you try to touch any of the knobs or switches that could disrupt the automatic systems”. The perplexed pilot said, “then what am I suppose to do?” As the cabin attendant turned to walk away she said, “You captain, are suppose to feed the dog.”

Be kind to your dog, cat and duck, you may need them the next time you go flying and the GPS fails.

28th Apr 2009, 00:22
Captain King, you are a young pilot, so you say. If you aspire to be an old pilot NEVER go into cloud of any kind alone until you have an instrument rating.

28th Apr 2009, 00:28
Here's a demonstration of the Cat Principle


or here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nheqDASt7bg&feature=fvsr)



28th Apr 2009, 03:28
fantastic :ok: Such a cool cat :)

Here's a canine "g" meter. Apologies if it's been done to death.

YouTube - plane: 0 gravity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN77b9DqEbc)

28th Apr 2009, 09:10
You can all laugh, but one of WWII's best kept secrets was that the pigeons carried in RAF bombers were not there for message carrying, as commonly thought.

My dad was in the small and slightly eerie group that pioneered the technique of training the pigeons to stand on the top of the pilot's panel, on the way home, moving about so as always to indicate the GC route to the aircraft's base.

This saved countless lives, as the bombers struggled home in IMC, with instruments shot out.

Initial trials were carried out with the pigeons flying in front of the aircraft, launched through the DV window, back leg tethered to the pitot tube by 10m of string, but this system failed because fatigue often overcame the little heroes, so that their speed fell away until the aircraft overtook them.

28th Apr 2009, 09:43
....and you can eat them too :E

28th Apr 2009, 10:47
............. and given their heavily carrot-laced diet, they formed a balanced meal plus a boost to pilots' night vision.

Pugilistic Animus
28th Apr 2009, 16:48
instrument flying is not hard it's just very systematic and scientific and it can be:zzz:

another stage for the 'unforgiven' ---that's it!


28th Apr 2009, 21:10
My instrument experience is limited to that taken in my PPLs, and one very scary experience in a PA38. Strangely, I found it easier in the helicopter, maybe as it came later, but somehow the more open feeling of the cockpit was involved I think, even though I could see nothing.

The first I did was in a PA28 and lasted 20 minutes, right to about the runway threshold. My overriding memory is the sheer and total mental fatigue after such a short time (it was a bit bumpy that day too). I was virtually ready for bed! Never felt that way before or since in anything I've done... a little over-intense I think!

Edit: the scary experience was in a 152.

28th Apr 2009, 21:54
instrument flying is not hard

Dead easy, in fact; and I can take you to the cemeteries where we buried the pair of shoes or arm or whatever else remained of chaps, just as clever as any here, who proved it.

Pugilistic Animus
28th Apr 2009, 22:30
you must ---


Pugilistic Animus
28th Apr 2009, 22:42
Hint: planning and organization is the key to IFR;)

attitude instrument stuff and spatial disorientation is not the hard part:ouch:

28th Apr 2009, 23:40
Hint: planning and organization is the key to IFR

It is, shoot, I must have been doing it wrong for forty years.

Now avoiding IMC (IFR flight) takes planning and organization. :p

29th Apr 2009, 03:03

I did rather wonder about that but with all respect I found your writing rather cryptic. The use of hieroglyphs, for one thing, is alien to me.

The fellow who is asking all these questions is 15 or so, I think he said, and he plans to go solo in 10 to 15 hours. Perhaps he will. If he does and soon after leaves the circuit, one day he will find a cloud. He should be told clearly, not subtly, what to do: STAY AWAY from it. Clever chaps who dismiss IF readily do him a disservice. If he tangles with cloud he will soon be a dead young pilot. As I say, I know where the cemeteries are. And those chaps all had instrument ratings. Two were FAW pilots.

29th Apr 2009, 12:01
Instrument flying is a doddle when compared to instrument driving :}

Pugilistic Animus
29th Apr 2009, 16:24
Why would a non-IR pilot enter IMC?

that's very dumb ---I was speaking about an instrument rating ---it a stage---it is a mark of professionalism ---and a safety net ---get one so you can learn to fly instruments---

the average lifespan of a non IR pilot who enters IMC is less than three minutes before a spiral dive into the ground!!!

BTW: VFR can be just a bad, for the reasons that Con-Pilot suggests;)

I could go on but this is JB I come here to relax,...if we want to discuss more about it lets go to Private Flying


Pugilistic Animus
29th Apr 2009, 16:53
of course you could also enter a controlled spin and then recover when out of the cloud bank.

That's actually how it was done pre-gyro days --the early Airmail pilots :D
---would 'lock their flight controls in place, then hopefully, if the cloud layer was not too thick and they could get on top, before disorientaion set in ...

However, this was obviously not 100% successful,...so they, when caught in a mess,...would pull the stick all the way back and push the rudder,...in doing so they went from an unknown flight attitude to a known flight regime a spin,...if terrain did not intervene they'd spin out of the cloud and recover once in VMC ---then repeat again, lest the Post Office find out you were late:E

yet we complain --- they did not even have compensated compasses:eek:

Thankyou Jimmy D.

29th Apr 2009, 16:54
Why private flying? Most private pilots assidously avoid instrument flying. Despite exceptions, instrument flying is mostly the province of the professional pilot. Thus the private forum is inappropriate too.

I agree it shouldn't be in jetblast. God forbid there be any aviation stuff in Jetblast.:hmm: I return to my one man campaign for a hangar flying forum dedicated to flying or aviation stories or other whimsy like this topic that doesn't fit anywhere else. Open to all comers from Microsofters to Astronauts. A place where kids can ask silly questions or where old timers can regale us with tales of narrow scrapes and and lessons learned.

How about it, any takers?

29th Apr 2009, 16:55
While my comment about avoiding IMC was a little tongue in cheek, it is vital for non-IFR rated pilots to plan well ahead to stay out of clouds.

I flew a Westwind for a year for an owner that refused to be flown in IMC, in other words we could not operate a corporate jet in clouds, any clouds. He had to be able to look out of the window and see the ground at all times. Now that took some planning, let me tell you. Yes, we had a lot of canceled trips. I left that job as soon as I could.

Pugilistic Animus
29th Apr 2009, 17:13
Most private pilots assidously avoid instrument flying

Not where I'm from:rolleyes:

Solid Rust Twotter
29th Apr 2009, 19:10
Why would a non-IR pilot enter IMC?

Quite so, PA. They do it because they have a GPS which tells them where they are at all times and are therefor impervious to any harm that may befall them whilst pootling about in the snot.

29th Apr 2009, 21:05
the average lifespan of a non IR pilot who enters IMC is less than three minutes before a spiral dive into the ground!!!

Agree completely. The topic was introduced to JB by a self-confessed very beginner pilot, and some of the responses are quite flippant.

You are right about the spiral dive. Over fifty years ago, I did get into cloud untrained before I knew how dumb that was, and I almost got into that spiral.

I confess that I did not breathe a word to anyone. Lack of character on my part, I suppose.

No one had ever told me to stay clear of cloud. I have tried to make it very clear to Captain King.

Captain King, I have no idea how good a pilot you may become, but Hark to this: Until you can do it, and I would add until you stay in regular practice, stay away from IF, and IMC and AVOID EVERY CLOUD.

Pugilistic Animus
29th Apr 2009, 22:05
Daavar: it is good to be very forceful in relaying such important facts to a less experienced pilot --- Great story ---you lived, You learned and now you teach:ok:

BTW I was not flippant but I think folks should embrace other aspects of flying ...We've made the business too difficult at times:bored:

'We, who are the unforgiven'