9:48 PM

So You Think You
Can Handle IMC?

We've all met instrument-rated pilots who talk the talk about being aces at completing approaches to minimums in icing conditions on mountaintop grass strips the size of a parking stall. But when it comes time to walk that walk, they run for the coffee shop because their boasting about being a stud up in the clouds was all hat and no cattle.

There are those pilots, and then there are the ones who CAN walk that walk. You can tell who they are because of this: When the ceilings are low and the ice is starting to form on your struts, there is a good chance they'll fly their way out of trouble because they've flown on an IFR Adventure with Field Morey.

Field – who was named that because his aviator parents couldn't name him airport – runs Morey's West Coast Adventures, and in the interest of full disclosure, he is a client of ours. But now that I am an instrument student myself, I am starting to really appreciate the kind of training he gives his "students" on what he calls IFR Adventures:

Field believes that there is only one way for an instrument-rated pilot to stay safe, and that is to receive training in actual IMC conditions. To accomplish this, he loads a pair of IFR pilots into his 2007 G1000 Cessna T182T and aims the nose at places like Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, or the back country strips of Idaho. He then wrings every last drop of talent out of these two students, pushing them to their limits through the qaug and the mire into the kind of serious IMC that would make most other pilots turn a 180.
Just a few days ago, Field returned from his December "adventure" and here are some of his comments regarding ice:
The purpose of my December Rocky Mountain Adventure is to give Instrument Rated Pilots more experience with regard to cross-country mountain IMC operations. Naturally a December trip entails icing and NO the Cessna T182 is not certified for flight into KNOWN icing. But it is certified for flight OUT OF known ice! My job as a flight instructor is to replace fear and lack of confidence with knowledge and experience. And, no, I don't have a death wish but I do have years and years of flying in winter conditions following my cardinal rule when it comes to ice. That is always, always, always have a way out of trouble!
So just who are these IFR Adventure guys anyway? You might think they are rock climbing, Bungee-jumping X-gamers who live life on the edge...but you would be wrong. They are just pilots like you and me, guys and gals who want to get up in it and see what flying IFR is all about:
George was a 2,000 hour owner of a TR182 who regularly flies for business and pleasure based in Missoula, MT. This was his seventh IFR adventure with me. The second student, Greg, came all the way from Staten Island, NY. He had about 600 hours total time and was commercial, multi and glider rated. The first day out, a major storm was slamming into the Northwest bringing with it sigmets for turbulence and all three airmets for ice, turbulence and mountain obscuration. I would never think of making this trip without a turbo.
This IFR adventure spanned five days and covered 27 legs. Day one took the Turbo 182 to Missoula after working east from Field's Medford, Oregon base. Day two had no less then SEVEN LEGS into fields in Montana and Wyoming, ending at Cheyenne Regional. Day three must have been a classic sweat inducer, with winter stops in places like white-knuckle strips in Aspen and Telluride before a planned layover in Sedona.

Even after what had to be a stressful day of IMC, day four must have been another sweat producer, heading down into the craziness of the L.A basin to Palm Springs and Santa Monica before a RON at Santa Maria. And that all was leading up to the grand finale, day five, when the trip worked north up the California coast, talking with Bay Approach into Monterey and Sonoma County before arriving back in Medford...in one piece.

This is not a sales pitch, as Field's adventures last year all sold out...and I'm sure his 2008 adventures will also. So if you want the ultimate test to see if you can handle all that Mother Nature can throw at you, go ahead and click through to ifrwest.com. And if you end up booking an adventure, I suggest you review just about everything you've every learned about flight into IMC, because you're going to need it all.

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