Instrument Rating (Restricted)

NDB Hold at LyddI have started training for my UK restricted instrument rating, which will allow me to fly (subject to conditions) in cloud and poor visibility in certain UK airspace.  After about five or so lessons from Headcorn Aerodrome, I’m starting to train how to fly holding patterns and procedures.  The image shows a recent flight, where I had to fly a holding pattern over the Lydd Non Directional Beacon.

The course consists of 15 hours instrument training in the cockpit, and a written exam.  I decided to undertake the training as it will improve the safety of my flying, and allow me to fly on days when the weather is forecast to be marginal.  A normal private pilot, having only recently qualified, is only allowed to fly in reasonable visibility, clear of cloud, and with the surface in sight at all times.  Up until now, I have always feared departing for a destination, only to be caught out by an unforecast deterioration in conditions.

My training began with general handling of the aircraft on instruments, upset recovery, flying on limited instrument panel and VOR tracking.  The last two lessons have tackled the more difficult NDB tracking and holding patterns.  Non-Directional Beacons and the associated cockpit instrument the ADF (Automatic Direction Finder) is, aside from the compass, one of the simplest forms of aerial navigation, but because it’s based on very old technology, is the hardest to use.

About half of my training has taken place with simulated instrument conditions.  I wear a hood to obscure my field of vision, so I can only see the cockpit instruments.  The other half has been conducted on days with low cloud and poor visibility.

On Thursday 15th October, I flew the entire approach procedure at Lyyd, albeit without descending from the cruise at 4000ft.  I will fly down the glideslope during my next two lessons.  From Headcorn, I intercepted the Lydd NDB southbound and entered the hold.  Then, following the published procedure I flew north to 14 miles and flew an arc, remaining 14 miles, before intercepting the ILS localiser.  I flew the localiser at 4000ft until 2DME, when the alternative missed approach procedure was flown for another approach.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable lesson, if fairly tiring, as I think I’m finally getting the hang of NDB tacking.

Having originally trained, and then flown from Biggin Hill for so long now, I was keen to try Headcorn, as it will also serve to improve my experience in using airfields not under full air traffic control, and home my grass runway landings.