The flying reporter gets stuck into some proper instrument flying practice on a flight from Biggin Hill to Lydd. It’s only a short hop, but ends in an ILS (Instrument Landing System) approach.
Once you’ve got an instrument rating, in my case a restricted version, it’s really important to keep in practice. The skills quickly go rusty, and the last thing you want is to find yourself in cloud, having to perform an instrument approach, and not being on top of your game.
Instrument flying can be hard work, and while I wasn’t flying this route completely on instruments all the way, you’ll see from the video how I’m having to constantly change and identify VOR, ILS and DME frequencies, and also communicate my intentions to various air traffic controllers.
Practicing instrument flying in visual meteorological conditions really requires there to be a safety pilot on board, who can keep the visual lookout going, while the captain dedicates his/her time on the instruments. Luckily, Patrick from our flying syndicate was happy to oblige. Patrick is an experienced commercial pilot, although as he puts it, he’s a little ‘rusty’.
Another slight complication on this flight was that India Zulu doesn’t have an Automatic Direction Finder (ADF). As you’ll see from the instrument approach chart above, the procedure for Lydd, and many other airports, requires an ADF to receive the Non Directional Beacon (NDB). Without an ADF, I had to make a special arrangement with Lydd prior to this flight. The arrangement was dependent on there being visual meteorological conditions at Lydd. I used VORs and DME to position myself on the 14dme arc, and then followed that around to the extended centreline.
We did encounter a shower, and small amounts of cloud as we approached from the north, but otherwise the weather was perfect, with the wind direction favouring the landing runway.
Even though I hadn’t flown an ILS approach for quite some weeks, everything worked perfectly, and I managed to track the localiser and glideslope all the way down to my decision height.
This was a very enjoyable flight, ATC was excellent, and the trip has given my instrument flying skills a boost. Many thanks to Patrick for giving up his time for me.
Video: Lydd ILS Approach