Instrument Approach ABCís
By Buz Witherington, CFII
Flying on instruments is a lot like juggling.†
Remember that guy on the Variety Show that spun the plates on the wooden poles?† He would run from one plate to the next and whip the pole so the plate would stay suspended.† There were times that a plate over to one side would get slow and start to wobble.† We were sure that the plate would come crashing down.† But just in the nick of time, he would sprint over and give it a whirl to save the day.
In juggling, to be successful, you donít have to be perfect, but you canít drop any plate. When you are flying in the soup, you donít necessarily have to have the altitude nailed or the needles centered in the glass, but you canít forget any single part of the many pieces of instrument flying.
IFR is a very formal and unforgiving mode of managing air travel.† Letting a plate drop makes a very nasty sound (especially when you are in the plate).† So we donít want to forget anything while on the instruments.† And, there are a ton of things to keep up with.† Hence, the use of checklists really comes to the forefront in the clouds.
There must be a zillion checklists in aviation.† They include GUMP, CHADS, CRAFTT, 5 Tís, but I was not exposed to a good Instrument Approach Checklist until I tried to teach IFR to a couple of friends of mine.† Mack Jordan and Scott Peters devised an ABC Approach Checklist that was later improved by Wilma Brantley.† It is rated PG-13 and sounds a little silly, but the thing works well in anything from a Cessna 172 to a complex twin.† It is so simple that you can memorize it quickly and you donít need to write it down.
Here are the explanations:
Comment #1 - This item assumes you use the ďFly By the NumbersĒ technique for approaches.† I just canít imagine any other way to fly approaches than using this method.† Although cumbersome at first and requiring memorization of numbers, it does indeed reduce the pilot workload and supply precision and safety.
Because they were related to the engine, Wilma Brantley expanded this item to include:
Mixture Rich, Fuel Boost On, and Landing Light On.
Comment #2 Ė Having watched many pilots struggle through the juggling of the spinning plates, I have seen a frequent and common occurrence that must be dealt with.†
That occurrence is the interruption of the ABC checklist by ATC, the CFII, or some other source such as weather.† The pilot gets half way down the list and is dragged away by some other spinning plate such as a heading and altitude change by ATC.† After turning to the new heading and adjusting for a new altitude, some minutes later the pilot returns to his checklist.† Except now, he canít remember where he was so he starts over again at the top of the list.† Starting at the top is all well and good, but after the second or third interruption, the plane is cleared for the approach and the checklist is still unfinished!†
The poor pilot has listened to ATIS three times as well as checked his Marker Beacons and CTAF in standby, but the GPS/Nav switch is in the wrong position so he wanders off course and drops his spinning plate.† Because the GPS/Nav switch check is located so far down the checklist, it is penalized because it is alphabetized.† But this is a Killer Item and is much more important than CTAF in standby or Flaps.† So, Wilma modified this defect by saying, ďGolly Gee, I must do my ABCís.Ē† The G for Golly Gee reminded her to check the GPS/Nav switch before anything else.
I should again thank my students and my friends for teaching me how to teach.† You have allowed me to learn on your nickel and bead of sweat.† It has been an honor, and for me it has generated a new aviation maxim:† ďA CFII certificate is a license to keep learning from your studentsĒ.
Want to read more from Buz Witherington?† Check out of his other columns.
Got a comment, question or suggestion for future article? eMail Buz.
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