Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Holding Patterns

Piper Cherokee (PA-28-161/A)
1.5 hours
Flight Profile:
Before departing, I got the following clearance from my instructor (first part of the flight was done under the hood but VFR):
Cleared Rancho Intersection
After takeoff, left turn 270 intercept V23 CARIF intersection
Julian 246 Radial Rancho
Hold west of Rancho
Climb and maintain 3500 feet
Expect Further Clearance 1325 local
After executing the three holds, we would obtain an instrument clearance in the air for ILS Montgomery Field, full stop.
Flight Details:
Today's lesson was holding patterns. The plan was to depart MYF under the hood, intercept V23 and fly to CARIF intersection, and then execute three holding patterns. The first was west of Rancho intersection (344 degree radial from Mission Bay VOR and 246 radial from Julian VOR). These would be right turns (the outbound leg south of the Julian 246). Then we would transition to holding east of Rancho, also right turns, with the outbound leg north of the Julian 246). Finally, we would, at Rancho, attempt to enter a holding pattern with left turns east of the Mission Bay 344 radial). The picture looked something like this:
The three holding patterns
What complicated things a bit was the wind was strong out of the south, and the heading indicator was not functioning properly (after right turns of 180 degrees, which you do constantly in a holding pattern, the heading indicator was off 20 or 30 degrees. It seemed to function ok after left turns). I had to constantly update the heading indicator. Guess I will be ready for next week's partial panel exercise, at least as far as the heading indicator is concerned :-)
Lessons Learned:
  • I identified CARIF by intersecting two radials (Julian 246 and MZB 326 (or V23)). I should have used V23 and DME distance to identify the intersection.
  • It's easy to get confused. I initially held *east* of rancho in pattern 1, not west.
  • In the Cherokee, 3 minutes or so before reaching the holding fix, reduce airspeed (via pitch and power) to about 80 knots and fly the holding patterns at that speed.
  • Don't panic - there is plenty of room on either side of the holding fix for errors. The 1 minute leg timing guarantees you won't be more than 2 minutes from the holding fix.
  • The first fix was entered direct. The second teardrop. When it came time to do the third, which was supposed to be parallel, it was easier for me to visualize teardrop, and that's what I did. I turned north 30 degrees right of what I would have flown for the parallel entry, flew for a minute, then turned back to the inbound leg heading (164). My instructor was happy with that - keep in mind that for the practical test, any method that gets me into the holding pattern is acceptable.
  • I need to pay attention to the nav1/nav2 switch that controls what radio the DME is remoted to. I flew at times with it remoted on nav 2, and was confused by what was happening until my instructor pointed it out. I'm trying to think of a reason I would ever want to have it set on nav 2, so need to add that to my preflight checks.
My notepad after the flight with assignments from ATC
  • The ILS into MYF was uneventful, except once again, given a practice approach. Once again, 4000 feet was last assigned altitude, and this worked well.
  • Needed to do better identifying tuned VORs. I did it on the ground before takeoff (was able to receive both MZB and JUL) but in the air, I seemed to forget the importance, and flew for a while on the wrong VOR. 
  • Calling in for a clearance from the air is pretty easy: "Socal approach, cherokee 9206N in vicinity of Lake Hodges, instrument request" - "Cherokee 9206N go ahead" - "Cherokee 9206N is PA-28-161/A requesting instrument approach montgomery field full stop". After that, basically got cleared to class Bravo, fly VFR, sqwawk and ident, headings and altitudes to the localizer. I was prepared to get a more complete clearance and readback like when calling from the ground but pretty much we just jumped in (I think my instructor called it a "pop-up request" when you get a clearance from the air).
N9206N back on the ground

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