I scheduled a lesson on Monday and arrived at the airport early to preflight the airplane. Tyler and I strapped ourselves into N3555L and I attempted to prime the engine. Normally with the Auxiliary Fuel Pump on and the mixture at full rich, the fuel flow will indicate a positive value after a couple of seconds. But this time the needle didn’t move. I tried starting the engine, but the starter didn’t engage, so the flight was a no-go. We squawked the airplane and headed to the simulator instead for Lesson #6. The simulator took some getting used to at first, since it didn’t really feel very much like the real thing. We did a simulated flight from McMinville to PDX along the V287 airway, finishing up with the ILS Runway 28R approach. It was good practice for tonight’s flight.

Tonight I again arrived at the airport early so I could preflight the airplane and study the weather before Tyler arrived. The Winds Aloft forecast was for strong winds from the southwest between 34 and 46 knots at the altitudes we’d be flying. I filed an IFR flight plan over duats when Tyler arrived, and we headed out to the airplane. I requested the Canby Seven departure to CANBY intersection, and ATC cleared me as filed. But when we were awaiting our takeoff clearance they changed it to the Farmington Four departure. I’m getting good at the Farmington Four, but I’d like to try a different route away from the airport sometime! There were plenty of clouds out tonight, so I finally got some actual instrument flying time in, although it was patchy so I still kept the hood on the entire time.

During our climb we requested a DME Arc around the Newberg VOR, and ATC gave us an 10 mile arc from the 330 radial to the 270 radial. Basically this technique just requires that you intercept and track an arc at a certain distance from a VOR using distance measuring equipment. Tyler had me use the “twist 10 turn 10” technique, so after crossing each 10 degree radial I’d advance the omni-bearing selector 10 degrees ahead of my current radial and turn 10 degrees to maintain 10 miles from the VOR. In practice I didn’t really turn 10 degrees, I just turned however much was necessary to correct for a 40 knot wind! Since I’ve been practicing DME arcs in Microsoft Flight Simulator I didn’t have much difficulty—we were always withing 0.2 miles of the 10 DME arc. Before I knew it we were on the 270 radial.

Tyler had me request a hold from ATC: hold west on the 270 radial 5 DME from the Newberg VOR, left turns. This turned out to be incredibly difficult with the enormous crosswind from the southwest. We ended up flying a sort of weird teardrop shaped holding pattern, with a 20 degree correction on the inbound leg and a 60 degree correction on the outbound leg! After a few laps, I requested direct to DAFFI intersection and then the Runway 12 ILS approach at Hillsboro. Usually we would have ATC vector us to the localizer course, but we wanted to fly the teeny DME arc from DAFFI to DUCKA in order to practice my newly acquired skill!

The ILS (Instrument Landing System) is pretty amazing. It provides horizontal guidance through a Localizer, which sits at the opposite end of the runway and transmits a “fly left” and a “fly right” signal; when the radio receives both signals equally, the course deviation indicator on the instrument panel is centered so you know you’re lined up with the runway. The ILS also provides vertical guidance through a glide slope transmitter, which transmits “fly up” and “fly down” signals over a UHF frequency. When the glide slope indicator on the instrument panel is centered, you know you’re on glide path. When you have vertical guidance it is referred to as a precision approach, and it certainly lived up to that name tonight. So after ATC cleared me for the approach, I intercepted and tracked the localizer for runway 12, then intercepted the glide slope at our final approach fix, making small heading and power corrections during our 90 knot descent. I descended to our decision altitude of 400 feet (200 feet above the ground), then Tyler had me pull off the hood. The runway was right in front of us, and we were perfectly set up for a straight in landing on runway 12! It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

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