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7 Questions To Prove You're A Real Instrument Pilot

Think you deserve that instrument rating? Here are 7 questions to prove you're qualified to cruise in the soup.

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  1. 1) On approach into Thief River Falls, Minneapolis center says "Cessna Two Three Bravo, cleared for the approach into Thief River Falls, change to advisory frequency approved, good night."

    The weather in TVF goes below minimums on the approach and you execute the published missed approach procedure, holding over the TVF VOR/DME at 2,700 feet. You try to call Minneapolis Center, but get no response. What should you do?
    TVF ILS RWY 31 Chart
    TVF Enroute Chart

    Awesome!  You may not have a radio failure, you may simply be out of center's radio coverage.  Try to reach Princeton Radio over 123.6 or 122.1 - and listen for their response over the TVF VOR/DME.

    Incorrect.  You may not have a radio failure, you may simply be out of center's radio coverage.  Try to reach Princeton Radio over 123.6 or 122.1 - and listen for their response over the TVF VOR/DME.

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  2. 2) You've unknowingly entered icing conditions, and your static ports ice over. The pitot tube remains clear. ATC clears you to climb higher. How will your airspeed read?

    Awesome!  Your airspeed indicator compares dynamic (ram) pressure from the pitot tube against static pressure from your static ports.  If you begin to climb and your static ports are clogged, the static pressure will read too high, and the airspeed will read slow.  You'll be flying faster than indicated.

    Incorrect.  Your airspeed indicator compares dynamic (ram) pressure from the pitot tube against static pressure from your static ports.  If you begin to climb and your static ports are clogged, the static pressure will read too high, and the airspeed will read slow.  You'll be flying faster than indicated.

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  3. 3) ATC assigns an intercept vector for an ILS course, and then clears, "Cirrus Six Eight Echo, fly heading 210, maintain 2,800 until established on the approach, cleared for the ILS Runway 28." Your radios fizzle immediately afterward, before you can respond. What route should you fly?
    KTVC ILS RWY 28 Chart

    Awesome!  You've been cleared for the approach. Per the AIM, "If being radar vectored, by the direct route from the point of radio failure to the fix, route, or airway specified in the vector clearance."  Hold the assigned heading, intercept the localizer and begin the approach.

    Incorrect.  You've been cleared for the approach. Per the AIM, "If being radar vectored, by the direct route from the point of radio failure to the fix, route, or airway specified in the vector clearance."  Hold the assigned heading, intercept the localizer and begin the approach.

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  4. 4) You unknowingly enter icing conditions, and your pitot tube ices over. Your static ports remain clear. ATC clears you to descend. How will your airspeed read as you get lower?

    Awesome!  Your airspeed indicator compares dynamic (ram) pressure from your pitot tube to static pressure.  If your pitot tube ices over, but your static ports remain clear, your airspeed will initially freeze.  If you descend, the static pressure will increase, and your indicated airspeed will gradually decrease.  You'll be flying faster than indicated.

    Incorrect.  Your airspeed indicator compares dynamic (ram) pressure from your pitot tube to static pressure.  If your pitot tube ices over, but your static ports remain clear, your airspeed will initially freeze.  If you descend, the static pressure will increase, and your indicated airspeed will gradually decrease.  You'll be flying faster than indicated.

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  5. 5) You plan to fly east from Hanksville (HVE) via Victor 244 to Pueblo (PUB), and file 17,000 feet. ATC clears, "Piper Three Six Bravo, cleared as filed to Pueblo, climb and maintain 11,000, expect 15,000 one-zero minutes after departure, contact Salt Lake Center on 127.55, squawk 4243."

    You depart and climb to 11,000. Five minutes after departure, your radios go silent. You climb to 15,000 at the expect further clearance time, and then to 15,500 as you cross ANIUM, crossing ANIUM at 12,300.

    What altitude should you maintain when flying between HERRM and NADIN?
    Enroute Chart

    Awesome! You should maintain 15,000, the altitude ATC told you to expect.  Even though you had to climb higher to meet the MEA between ANIUM and PAROX, you should descend back to your expected altitude (15,000) after crossing PAROX - where the MEA decreases to 13,000.The AIM says: "The intent of the rule is that a pilot who has experienced two-way radio failure should select the appropriate altitude for the particular route segment being flown and make the necessary altitude adjustments for subsequent route segments."

    Incorrect. You should maintain 15,000, the altitude ATC told you to expect.  Even though you had to climb higher to meet the MEA between ANIUM and PAROX, you should descend back to your expected altitude (15,000) after crossing PAROX - where the MEA decreases to 13,000.The AIM says: "The intent of the rule is that a pilot who has experienced two-way radio failure should select the appropriate altitude for the particular route segment being flown and make the necessary altitude adjustments for subsequent route segments."

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  6. 6) Your ADF fails while you're en-route on an IFR flight plan, but in visual conditions. You haven't used the ADF in years - and don't plan on using it for this flight. Do you need to notify ATC?

    Awesome!  FAR 91.187 requires you to tell ATC about any navigational, approach or communications equipment malfunction.  Just tell them it won't affect your flight.

    Incorrect. You need to inform ATC.  FAR 91.187 requires you to tell ATC about any navigational, approach or communications equipment malfunction.  Just tell them it won't affect your flight.

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  7. 7) You overhear a pilot in the briefing room telling a student, "There I was... It was night in the soup, and my attitude indicator had failed. I hung my flashlight from the visor, and used it as an attitude indicator! If it swung left, I knew I was banking left; if it swung right, I was turning right." Does he know what he's talking about?

    Awesome! As long as he's coordinated, the flashlight will hang straight down.  Try it in VMC.

    Incorrect. As long as he's coordinated, the flashlight will hang straight down.  Try it in VMC.

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This one was tough! Keep studying.

You scored %. You've had your shot, now pass it on and see how your friends do.

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Not bad! This one was tricky.

You scored % You've got your instrument flying down...for the most part.

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Nice work. You scored %

You really know your stuff - there's no doubt you're an instrument pilot.

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Aleks Udris

Aleks is a Boldmethod co-founder and technical director. He's worked in safety and operations in the airline industry, and was a flight instructor and course manager for the University of North Dakota. You can reach him at aleks@boldmethod.com.

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