Okay, getting up at 1:30 a.m. wasn’t as bad as I thought. Flying in the middle of the night has it’s advantages, especially in the desert. I’ve never seen the air so smooth. It makes the flying easier and more enjoyable, but of course it also leaves a pilot with little excuse for deviations in altitude or heading.
McCarren Int’l Airport was quiet at three in the morning, so we were able to do a full ILS 25L approach, then execute the missed followed by another ILS 25L partial panel. And of course the left engine “failed” just as I was intercepting the localizer. After that we held at the Boulder VOR for a few minutes, which I used to set up for the VOR 25L/R, which terminated with a circle to land 19L. My flying was good, but I did make one stupid error in forgetting to use the circle-to-land minimums instead of the numbers for a straight-in approach. Duh.
My biggest hurdle in flying instruments here is just getting used to the avionics they have. A Garmin 430 and Apollo SL30 make for a powerful combination, but it’s easy to either make a mistake or spend too much time hunting around for the right button. That could easily lead to a bust. If you leave the GPS/VLOC switch in the wrong position and fly the CDI needle off course, you’re done. Even the simple things count, like the fact that the SL30 will self-ident a VOR. I wasted 30 seconds aurally identifying Boulder VOR when the “BLD” was right there on the radio.
This is a problem that will only get worse as the Garmin 1000 and other advanced all-glass panels filter out into the world of general aviation. I think eventually the FAA is going to step in and require specific training on an avionics suite before a pilot can fly the airplane.
Anyway, the MEII training is going well. And I feel I’m prepared for the CFI multi-engine initial. My plan for tonight is to hit the sack nice and early because I’ve got a 5 am flight tomorrow, and if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that you can’t have too much sleep when you’re doing this kind of intensive training. Students here are asked to perform to their limits, and so many of them are eating junk, getting no sleep, and not drinking enough water. You can’t do that for two solid weeks and expect to give your best.