I Can Now Legally Fly Through Clouds!

5:52 PM

After I returned from a successful instrument check ride, it felt fabulous. It followed some of the most intense training any pilot can endure, and it took a while to sink in that I am no longer limited to flying within the constraints of visual flight rules.

I recently posted on Facebook that this feels to me like earning a Master's Degree....something I have never earned at a university. They don't even offer that degree at the School of Hard Knocks, where I am alumni emeritus. So as a pilot who's life revolves around flight, this ticket is like making it through graduate school...a really big deal.

When we bought Katy – our family Cherokee 235 – in October, 2007, it was my goal to get this rating so I could enjoy the full "utility" of this plane. I wanted a true cross-country flyer that would haul four people, full fuel and all our stuff long distances. But in determining the right plane for this mission, I knew it had to be IFR-certified, because owning this level of ship with only a VFR rating is really limiting, especially flying out of Eugene, Oregon, where our "Oregon Sunshine" usually drops visibilities below three miles.
So from the very first trip in 27W, I have been pushing towards this rating. I will post a full-blow report of exactly what the check ride was like soon, but for now I am content to bask in the glory of possessing this tiny slip of paper that is my temporary pilot's license. Two words set this apart from so many other pilot's licenses:
Instrument. Airplane.
Do I recommend getting your IFR ticket? Yes, absolutely. The difference between the skills required to poke holes in the sky as a VFR pilot chasing hamburgers and flying with heightened precision through clouds and actual weather is immense. If you strut around like you are a hot-shot VFR pilot, instrument training will crush that ego of yours in a few flights. If you think you can do pre-flight planning now and can noodle out VFR weather on the www, instrument training will kick your butt and send you packing.
But in the end, this rating has made me a much better pilot. I scan the panel naturally now, I think ahead of the plane and know what frequency needs to get plugged into every hole on my two Navcomms. I fully understand attitude flying now, and can fly power and pitch without thinking about it. In fact, I know Katy's power settings so well now, we actually did a partial panel landing during one training session with the airspeed indicator covered, and it was a non-event.
Will IFR training be hard? Yes. Will it be frustrating? Yes. Will you get scared to death as the oral and check ride approaches? Hell yes. Will you be on cloud freakin' nine when you pass the instrument check ride and get the rating?

Yes.

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