Marqtholomew

Tonight I filed and flew my first IFR flight plan! Even though we were in visual conditions the entire flight, it still felt great check the “IFR” box on the flight plan form. We stayed close to the airport because the temperature-dewpoint spread was 1 degree C, but the forecast didn’t call for fog until much later in the evening. Weather forecasts are often wrong, so my instructor kept a close eye out for signs of fog development while I kept my eyes on the instrument panel.

I copied my first IFR clearance from ground control using the CRAFT mneumonic: Clearance Limit, Route, Altitude, Frequency, Transponder Code. ATC cleared me to HIO via the Farmington Four Departure then As Filed, climb 4000, contact Portland Departure on 126.0, squawk 4672. I read it back to the controller, and he responded “readback is correct, taxi to runway 30”.

After takeoff we climbed out via the Farmington Four departure and I made the call to Portland Departure, reporting my current and assigned altitude. Since we requested to hold at the Newberg VOR, ATC gave me instructions: “Hold South on the 183 Radial As Published, Maintain 4000, Expect Further Clearance 0500, Time Now 0431”. I performed a teardrop entry to enter the holding pattern from the north, and we flew about 5 or 6 circuits around the Newberg VOR. It was difficult to know when exactly to start the time on the outbound leg because when we were abeam the VOR the OFF flag stayed on for about 8 seconds, and then very slowly turned to a TO indication when we were south of the VOR, so it took a few rounds to get the inbound leg to come out exactly to one minute.

Next was holding at a DME fix. Tyler called ATC and had me hold west at 5 DME on the 270 radial from UBG. My scan lapsed for a brief moment while I drew out the holding pattern on a piece of paper, but I recovered pretty quickly. I intercepted the 270 radial and tracked it outbound until the GPS reported 5 DME, executed a parallel entry to get established on the inbound leg, and flew a couple of circuits. There was a wind from the north, so some crosswind correction was necessary, but the legs came out to exactly 1 minute both ways. We did a couple of circuits and requested a new holding pattern, this time around the CANBY intersection.

I tuned and identified the Battleground VOR and set the OBS to the 175 radial while tracking the 085 radial from Newberg. Both CDI needles centered, so I started my turn, this time to the left. No problems there, so we decided to wrap things up. I requested the VOR/DME-C approach into Hillsboro, and ATC responded “cleared for the VOR/DME-charlie approach”. That felt great! The approach went pretty well, although I dipped below my minimum altitude a couple of times (no no). At 700 feet I pulled off the hood and circled for left base for runway 30. I flared a bit high on the landing, but a touch of power made it a gentle enough touchdown. Just as we landed we could see patches of light fog developing around the area. I think I’ve got the hang of holding down pretty well—my instructor said I must have eaten my Wheaties, but I told him it was from using Microsoft Flight Simulator all weekend. This was really an incredibly enjoyable flight—the next lesson is scheduled for Thursday.

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