Yesterday I had another instrument lesson. Last week my instructor told me
two things; That we would try to get in some IMC while we practiced
approaches into Salinas and secondly that he would have me perform a
simulated zero-zero takeoff (me under the foggles with the instructor
looking out the window on the ready), because he wanted me to understand,
first-hand, why such a maneuver should never be performed.

So, my lesson day arrived, yesterday, with weather so warm and clear that
you could see forever.... well there went the IMC opportunity, I thought. I walk
into my FBO and John (my CFII) is looking at the local weather on the
computer. I told him (with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that I could
hardly wait to get into all that IMC that was just waiting for us, outside
<grin>.

He told me that we would practice the approaches he had given the week
before to review, but that today I would be doing that zero-zero takeoff
that he had 'promised' me. I told him, if the purpose of the exercise was
to show me why one should never attempt such a thing, he would be 'preaching
to the choir' as I was totally convinced without having done it. He told me
that it was important to have my reticence reinforced with the REAL
experience (simulated of course).

So, we are out on the field, cleared for takeoff on runway 31R and I
(without foggles at this point,,, my instructor didn't want me practicing
'zero-zero' taxiing <<<GRIN>>>>) lined myself up with the runway and made a
mental note of the heading on my heading indicator. John then told me to
put on my foggles. With foggles in place, he told me to take-off. Throttle
to full, green green,,, airspeed is live... Maintaining runway alignment
using the heading indicator was just as difficult as I thought it would be.
All along the ground roll I was telling John to 'feel free and step in
anytime he wanted' but he kept telling me,,, you're doing fine. Soon I
reached rotation speed and I was off into the sky, just before starting to
head towards the grass median on the side of the runway (I don't know how
close I was, but John told me I would eventually head that direction if I
had any longer of a ground roll). Once we were airborne, John made another
point. He said that though we had just made that takeoff if we lost an
engine now (presuming we were in actual zero-zero) we would be toast, trying
to get back to the runway.

I have to say (and I'm generally, pretty hard on myself) that I was doing
very well on all my approaches, MAPs and holds. What I loved most about
yesterday's lesson is that I was flying ahead of the procedure, anticipating
changes in OBS settings, throttle, timer,,, etc. The holds worked out
beautifully. I was just very, very pleased with yesterday. Keep in mind
that I'm judging my performance on a relative scale in terms of being a
relatively new (just hit 25 simulated instrument hours) instrument student.
I'm sure I have a ways to go and so much to learn, but I'm just really
pleased with yesterday's progress. I tried to do as much 'chair flying' of
the approaches as possible as well as some practice on the approaches on my
ONTOP sim program. I think it helps.

During lunch, before my lesson, I studied my approach plates,, sort of
'flying' them in my head. It goes back to something that I discovered while
working on my private - that a lesson would go better if one got into the
mind frame of thinking 'flying' on the way to the lesson. By the time I got
to the FBO, my head was already there.

I shot the VOR approach into Salinas, the LOC approach into Watsonville
(with radar), followed by the NDB approach into Watsonville. Afterwards, we
flew back to Reid-Hillview and my instructor brought me 'out of the clouds'
on the short flight up the valley to RHV. He brought me out sooner than
usual because there were some firefighting operations being flown in the
nearby hills and John told me that he wanted as many eyes outside the
cockpit as possible. Those airborne firefighters really do some incredible
flying,,,, not something I would want to do, I take my hat off to those men
and women that do the aerial firefighting,,,, wow!!!

That's about all for now.... Great time!!!!

Good Flights!

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