When it comes to aviation memory devices, I say bring on the alliteration! Anything that will help me remember procedure is a comforting tool that really helps to familiarize me and make the cockpit feel less intimidating. Today John and I put lesson #8 in the log book by practicing GPS and ILS approaches at Rocky Mountain Metro, Ft. Collins and finally back at Centennial. We all know Colorado is filled with aviation enthusiasts, but today, they all seemed to be flying near RMMA! We shot out of KAPA on 17L and diverted to the West, cruising at 7,500 up towards Downtown. As we loaded our GPS fix information we noticed a lot of traffic in the skies around Ft. Collins. Not everyone was talking on their radios, so rather than worry about what might be in front of or on top of us, we did a 360 degree turn to the left to allow the traffic to pass. That helped, but when we got back on track towards 33R, there was a helicopter intercepting our flight path. We decided to try what we thought would be a less busy airport… KBJC. Think again! We had to call a missed approach because of the Mig that was cruising the pattern. On our second time around, we were able to practice an IFR approach, do one touch and go and get on back to KAPA. When we touched down, I went full power down the runway but when I reached to reduce from 100% flaps to 50% flaps, I bumped us down to 0% flaps! Talk about a surprise… it took much longer to gain lift and our climb was really slow. John said it was fine but it made me super uncomfortable. The moral of the story is… be careful with your flap adjustments! In this flurry of flap excitement, I got to use my new missed approach pneumonic device… Click– auto pilot off, Cram– cram that throttle fully forward! Climb– pitch up to gain altitude, Clean– flaps up! and Communicate– talk to the tower and let them know your intentions. In my nerdy ways, I say these things out loud as I do them while John rolls his eyes and smiles.
Once we climbed out, we took a South heading towards Chatfield. I decided I wanted to attempt to perform all radio communications with Denver Center and the tower during our ILS approach through Casse. Sure enough… I did it! It was thrilling to see that even something as complicated as headings and vectors, GPS and autopilot controls could be worked while also communicating on the radios. Yes! I was giddy as we executed a very nice approach, turned East for a left traffic pattern, and had a straight, squeaky landing on 17L.
What a great lesson. Today may be Friday and the work week is over, but my flying week is really just now heating up. Saturday morning John and I will be back out at the airport at 7am for a Pueblo cross-country flight. Sunday is a HUGE day as we are knocking out the long cross-country… we are going to Pagosa Springs! My Dad and step mom will be meeting us at the airport to watch my landing and take off! There will be time for a quick hug and hopefully a high-five then it’s back in the plane for leg #2.
The Sunday flight is an exciting one because that’s what I want my flying to be all about… flying to actually go somewhere, to see family, to share my passion with those I love. More photos and videos coming soon!