Six Approaches in Six Months

It’s that time again, time to reset the clock on my instrument currency. Just about every time I go on a flying trip, I manage to get some actual IFR en-route, usually only for a few minutes here and there, but in the last 6 months I’ve only done one real approach, and of course no holds. In order to stay instrument current you have to have done a hold and 6 approaches in the last 6 months, plus “intercepting and tracking course through the use of navigation systems” (which is pretty hard to avoid if you’ve done the other bits), and since I plan to fly up to Ottawa for Canada Day weekend, I need to be current in case I do get some weather.

I wasn’t interested in doing any non-precision approaches. Ottawa and Rochester both have ILSes and frankly the whole “currency” thing is more of an exercise in being legal than in safety. (Before our trip out to Mt. Holyoke this fall I’ll probably practice a few non-precision approaches because I don’t remember what approaches they have at Barnes Muni .)

So I filed ROC-GEE-ROC, and flew out to the Geneseo VOR and did a hold there. No problem, they assigned a hold on the airway I was already on, so the entry was dead simple. One turn around, and I was ready to come back in. I asked for the ILS 28 approach.

The controller descended me to 2,500 feet and vectored me for the approach course. My first approach wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great. Both horizontal and vertical I kept within 2-3 dots. And when I “broke out” at decision height I was a bit south of the runway.

The next two approaches went much better. Vertical I kept within the donut, and horizontal I went out a dot, or a dot and a half maximum. Although I still ended up a little bit south of the runway each time.

The next approach, I got a new controller. He vectored me further out, made me to descend to 2,100 on the final turn, and then asked me to keep my speed up. I did, and I actually did a pretty good approach. Kept it in the donut both horizontally and vertically almost the whole approach.

I’m not sure what went wrong in the last two approaches. Maybe it was the new controller (who kept giving me the descent at the last turn, but started turning me in nearer and giving me an abrupt turn-on), maybe it was the fact that I adjusted the DG for precession, maybe I was overconfident, and I was trying to fly them fast again, or maybe I was just bored and tired. But both approaches I was hitting 3 or 4 dots deflection horizontally both to the left and the right. And on the final one, I couldn’t get it slowed down for the landing. After I got touched down, I couldn’t even seem to put much pressure on the brakes, and very nearly decided to go-around. I ended up rolling into the overrun area on runway 28, which is 5500 feet long.