CFR (FAR) 61.57(c)

CFR 61.57

For those of you who are instrument pilots, you know what CFR (nee “FAR”) 61.57(c) means. What it says is that you can’t fly as pilot in command on instrument flight rules unless in the last six months you’ve flown 6 instrument approaches, holding procedures, and “intercepting and tracking course through the use of navigation systems”. (And I defy you to do the other two bits without automatically doing last last bit about tracking courses, so I don’t know why they put it in there.

Due to various circumstances, I’ve only flown one approach in the last 6 months – I did one approach a few weeks ago going to Ottawa (which I didn’t do very well) and the last approach before that was on March 1st when I did 6 in order to complete my Lance checkout. So I let my currency expire.

Fortunately, I had 6 months in which I can just go up and do 6 approaches and a hold with an instructor and be current again. And because of my experience in Ottawa, I definitely wanted to do them in a Lance.

Time and tide conspired to make the Lance and my instructor Lenny available this weekend, which is good because I’m taking it (the Lance, not Lenny) to Oshawa next weekend and I definitely wanted to get current again before that.

Unfortunately it was a beautifully sunny day. I say unfortunately for two reasons – the first is that I really feel like I need more practice in actual conditions, and the second is that when it’s hot and sunny, the ride gets bumpy down low, and when you’re doing approaches you’re completely down low.

I filed just like I did when I was doing my instrument lessons, except for the Pilot In Command’s name I put my own instead of Lenny. Actually, reading CFR 61.57(c) again, I probably should have put Lenny as PIC. No matter. I filed ROC – GEO – ROC, and in the remarks put “Multiple approaches”.

We took off and flew to the Geneseo VOR (GEE). I was a bit shakey – blew through my filed 3,000 foot altitude, and before I could correct downwards the controller asked me if I wanted 4,000 feet instead. I said yes, and then he asked me my first request. I asked for a hold, and he said “hold anywhere at 4,000”. Lenny and I both laughed, and Lenny assigned me a hold. First problem – he gave me an airway hold and I went to sketch it on the copy of the chart I have taped to my yoke board, and damned if I hadn’t noticed before we took off that the chart was torn. I needed my actual chart, but I couldn’t reach it. So Lenny allowed me to sacrifice his, and I drew the chart and the entry on it. Our current heading put us on the cusp between doing a tear drop entry or a direct, and since I like tear drops I opted to do that. The entry wasn’t bad, except I just turned to the outbound heading instead of trying to track that outbound radial, so I didn’t get any idea of the wind correction. Not a big problem – in the real world they’re happy as long as you stay on the proper side of the hold, not how pretty you do it. We did a couple of turns around the hold, and it was close enough for government work.

I noticed a few signs of the same problems with the HSI that I’d remarked on during the return on my Ottawa trip, but not enough to make us abandon the mission. The problems appear to be that the indicators in the HSI, the D-bar and the to-from flags, are sticky and sometimes don’t move at all and then move with a jerk.

After the hold, it was time to do a non-precision approach. The VOR-A into Canadaigua has a very long leg following almost exactly the same heading as I’d been in the hold, so that wasn’t too bad. There are only two things I hate about the VOR-A approach – the first is that you have 13.5 miles of tooling along at 2800 feet and then suddenly you have 3.5 miles to drop down to 1580 – at 120 knots that’s nearly 700 feet per minute. Not a ridiculous descent rate, but if you’re a few seconds late starting and you don’t start descending fast enough, you can soon end up at the missed approach point a couple of hundred feet high. Good thing it’s a “circle to land” approach anyway. The other thing I hate about this approach is it’s Lenny’s favourite approach to cover up the HSI and make you do it partial panel. Not too hard when you’re practically on the right approach course anyway before you cross the VOR.

After going missed at Canadaigua I came back to Rochester to do 5 ILS approaches. My first one, while better than the one I’d done in Ottawa two weeks ago, and within the test standards for a instrument pilot, was not within the high standards that Lenny holds me to. Oh, and I forgot to retract the gear on the missed approach. (It’s funny, but I’ve never forgotten to put the gear down for a landing, but I’ve forgotten a few times on take-offs, especially when doing touch-and-goes.) I settled down a bit on the second one, and by the third I was nailing them – if it hadn’t been so bumpy, I probably would have stayed within one dot deflection the whole way. I was mostly within two dots, usually dead nuts.

The only excitement was that on the second last one as I was being vectored around, I noticed a movement just in the fuzzy border between foggled and clear parts of my foggles, and looked up to see the oil filler door had popped open. Wierd, and surprisingly distracting even though I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to tear off and it wouldn’t hurt anything even if it did. And the last time, when I was doing a full stop landing, the tower cleared somebody to take off ahead of me, and then a few seconds later said “no delay, cleared for take off” to him. The “no delay” is a clue that you’d better start moving NOW or bad things are going to happen. In debriefing afterwards, Lenny said that even then it was a considerable delay before the guy started moving, and he was wondering if we were going to have to go around. But when we hit 800 feet and I took off the foggles, the guy ahead was JUST off the runway, so we were legal.

I tell you, there is not much better than the feeling when you break out or lift up the foggles to see that the runway is ahead of you, and you don’t have to do a damn thing to the airplane to continue a nice stabilized approach. I crossed the threshold still doing a perfect 120 knots with about a 600 foot per minute descent, pulled back the throttle and made a beautiful squeaker of a landing, first the upwind main, then the downwind main, then the nose. Applied the brakes and made the high speed turn-off, and felt deeply satisfied.

So now my concern is how do I keep in practice enough that my first approach of the day is as good as my last one was today?

2 thoughts on “CFR (FAR) 61.57(c)”

  1. So now my concern is how do I keep in practice enough that my first approach of the day is as good as my last one was today?

    I don’t know. But considering that I’ll be with you during your next approach in Toronto, and that Ivan will be in the neighborhood, I most devoutly hope that you’ll do brilliantly.

  2. And I defy you to do the other two bits without automatically doing last last bit about tracking courses, so I don’t know why they put it in there.

    Well, for the approaches at least, you could do ASRs and they don’t involve tracking a navaid.

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