4:34 PM

Jumped Through

This past week, I made it over one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of me earning my Instrument Airplane rating. After many MANY hours of studying, I am happy to report I passed the IFR written examination.

Now the first question I am sure you are asking is this: What was my score? Well, let's just say I passed and leave it at that. From this answer, you might be able to decode that since I am not bragging about a 98, or even a 90 that my score was not worth bragging about.

Was a lower then expected score indicative of a student who does not know the material or did not study? No. Was it because I do not take tests well? YES! Or was it the study materials used? Maybe.

Let's break all this down, shall we:

I was told by many instrument-rated pilots that the IFR written was one of the hardest FAA tests there is. That would explain why I spent what felt like thousands (O.K., maybe hundreds) of hours studying. I spend an enormous amount of time on weather questions, and only got a tiny handful on the test. But I was slammed with ADF, RMI and HSI questions, when I have never even flown behind those instruments. Why ADF questions remain in their database is beyond me. What, no Loran questions?

And while I understand that the world is going to GPS big time, Katy does not have an IFR-certified GPS, so we are not training those approaches right now. So I was left out in the cold on about 5 questions pertaining to GPS approach plate interpretation. Sure, I will need to know that stuff later on, but I am not training for it now so it was foreign.
I fully understand that the FAA does not readily know what avionics my 235 has, so they cannot be expected to craft a test just for me. But now that I snuck in under the wire and passed their test, I guess I can go about forgetting those ADF questions. And when the panel gets updated to include a Garmin 430 or better, I reckon I'll have to dig back into my personal knowledge bank and summon up the little tidbits of DME arc and GPS approach digital data that is hidden away in my steam gauge brain.
As to my choice of study materials, I used the Gleim red book and CD-R that accompanied it. At well under $100 and cheaper then the competition, I'd have to say the program is adequate. The only big problem was the quality of their reference graphics and legends. It was impossible to read tiny print on some of these graphics without going above the 100% viewing threshold, but at 125% and above, the graphics went muddy and unreadable. As a graphic designer, I found this appalling in a day when nice clean graphics are so easy to produce and transmit. If I had a do-over, I'd go with the more expensive Sporty's or King DVD programs.
But I did pass, and would not have without Gleim in my back pocket. I now move into the "finish up" stage of my IFR training, that netherworld between the point where you know how to fly the approaches but are not yet at the magical 40 hours in the logbook. I can easily plan IFR flights, fly safely in the system and land after bouncing down an ILS. But the one HUGE question remains...can I do it with an FAA Examiner in the right seat?

I have chosen to put that check ride off a couple of months due to life getting in the way of quality training time. And also, I want to up in the cold, moist crud a few more times so I feel comfortable flying in our famous Oregon Sunshine.

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