It’s no secret that Instrument flight training can be very challenging. For any step along the ladder of pilot training, whether as a sport pilot or airline pilot, not having the essential training equipment can severely dampen your progress. Here are the 5 must-have items for your instrument training:
Remember that opening scene from Back to the Future Part II where Doc Brown rushed out of his time machine wearing weird solid silver sunglasses? While they were meant to be some sort of special futuristic gear, they are essentially what pilots affectionately call “foggles”. Legally classified as view-limiting devices, foggles are way more comfortable than the so-called IFR hoods of long ago. Instrument training is all about learning how to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and foggles allow pilots to log simulated instrument time in their logbooks.
While those old school IFR hoods are still sold, the compact size and available variety of foggles make them a popular choice for instrument training. Since there are many different models available to choose from, it is important to take time to choose a good fit for you. For instance, if you’re a pilot that wears prescription eyeglasses, you may want to opt for foggles that can attach directly to the eyeglasses. Some folks prefer foggles that have an elastic band that wraps around the wearer’s head. Either way, foggles are indispensable.
Since the Instrument Rating requires a Private Pilot certificate at minimum, it is very likely that you already have a copy of the FAR/AIM from that initial flight training. When referring to the FAR/AIM, of course we’re talking about two things: the federal regulations that govern aviation, commonly known as the FARs, and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Since the FARs and AIM undergo many changes and are updated frequently, it is vital that you have a copy of the most recent versions of each.
Being that we live in the digital age, the FARs are available digitally through the FAA’s website. The AIM is also available online at the FAA website. However, it is very advisable having a paper copy, especially for the checkride. Plus, with a paper copy you can highlight and tab out important sections, which helps make a good impression on the examiner.
Need a FAR/AIM?
- Digital Charts / Foreflight
Living in a digital age, using our tablets as electronic flight bags makes a lot of sense. Going the digital route for accessing information related to navigation, approaches, aircraft performance, and weather really reduces pilot workload while also increasing safety. While there are many programs available to choose from, the most popular, and arguably one of the best, is Foreflight. Everything from calculating performance to accessing in-flight weather can be done with Foreflight.
When it comes to instrument training, approach charts are a required item. Because of a huge increase in GPS approaches, the binder containing the charts for Florida has doubled in size over the past few years. Having digital access to these instrument approach charts through a simple app makes a whole lot of sense. Besides, nothing keeps a tidy cockpit like having all charts electronically. Unfortunately, Foreflight doesn’t work on Android devices so alternatives such as Avare would be in order.
- Airman Certification Standards (ACS)
Ever take a math test and wonder what sort of questions will be on it? Imagine taking a flight test and not knowing exactly what will be evaluated! That’s where the ACS comes in. Officially titled Instrument Rating-Airplane Airman Certification Standards, the ACS is the FAA’s document that outlines everything that an applicant will be evaluated on during examination for issuance of the Instrument Rating. The ACS dictates standards for things such as the types of approaches that will be evaluated, risk management assessments, and emergency scenarios. The ACS is especially useful during preparation for their evaluation with their examiner, allowing students to systematically review all areas that will be covered.
Planning on getting your instrument rating? This is the link to the ACS.
Yes, a good ol’ fashioned ballpoint pen. Nothing has proven more useful in the cockpit than a pen. There’s a lot more information to keep track of during instrument training and writing things down is a must for students. Whether it’s figuring out what the correct holding pattern entry will be, calculating remaining fuel reserves after a simulated diversion, or writing down IFR clearances, nothing beats having a pen around to write stuff down. Pens are a must-have during instrument training. Most pilots have a favorite. Do you like finepoint, blue or black, or maybe a free one with a logo from your favorite flight school.