Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Flying IFR - Lesson 28 - IFR Long Cross Country

Last Tuesday the weather had thunderstorms and a cold front along the route scrapped that.

Today was much better with a mix of VFR and IFR along the way but no thunderstorms.

I got to the airport and filed the flight plan for Pontiac to Muskegon then from Muskegon to Grand Rapids and then back to Pontiac. We were flying N3553M, the Archer with the Garmin GFC 500 autopilot.

As we were doing the run up Pontiac went IFR.

No problem, were going IFR.

Took off from Runway 9R and climbed through the layer, first to 4000 and then almost immediately Detroit Approach cleared us to climb to 6,000.

Detroit Approach then had us head to Muskegon as I had filed it, via the Miggy2 departure procedure.

It was just beautiful above the layer.


Smooth as silk at 6,000. After flying for a bit we worked on autopilot usage and the GFC 500 is a nice unit.

The cloud layer continued to thin out to practically nothing as we flew westward.

Made it to Muskegon.  We were going to request an ASR approach but they stated they don't have that capability anymore, even as the charts still say they do.  So we switched to an ILS Runway 32 circle to Runway 6.

We used the autopilot to descend and fly the approach down to circling minimums and it worked very nicely.  Hand flew from circling and did a very nice circle and landing on Runway 6.  Getting a lot better at those.

Then got clearance for our next leg and headed to Grand Rapids.

For Grand Rapids we used the GFC 500's Flight Director rather than the autopilot and its a nice way to fly - just line up the chevrons and you're all set. Did the RNAV Runway 8 approach at Grand Rapids and did the flight director all the way to the M AP where I took over and hand flew it to another nice landing.

Then got a new clearance and back up again and headed back to Pontiac at 5,000 feet, again using the Flight Director.  By the time we got there the layer had fully burned off.  Did the Localizer Runway 9R and the Flight Director really helps with getting down nicely.  I then did a very nice landing.

It was an excellent experience using the GFC 500. It's an incredibly powerful tool - assuming you program and use it correctly.    A great long IFR cross country.

All that's left is a whole lot of check-ride prep which means approaches and partial panel work until I puke and then more approaches and partial panelwork.

That's 3.5, .1 of actual instrument time, 2.8 of simulated instrument, 3 approaches and 3 landings.

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