IFR Recurrency After Medical Hiatus
A. Toby
1 Posts
Like the pilots in the "Rusty Pilots" thread, I experienced a medical problem that grounded me for a few years. Fortunately it seems OK now and since I never tried to renew my medical during my illness, I'm now good under BasicMed. 
Well, I went back to the FBO I'd been flying with before the medical issues and their website looked a lot different but they were fine with my resuming with them. I took the BFR so now I'm current for VFR flight -- I didn't even try to get current in the airplane I had the BFR in because it was a model I hadn't flown in about 20 years. Now I'm thinking I should probably regain currency on instruments. But, I adopted the "glass cockpit" G1000 suite around 2005 and since then, all my flying was with that rather than with conventional "steam gauges". Well, you guessed it, the FBO went downmarket since I flew with them last and there weren't any G1000 aircraft available at the time I resumed flying (this was in February).
Then the FBO sent me the good news -- they were bringing in an SR22! I have about 6 hours in an SR20 and I'm sure an SR22 would be a lot too expensive for regaining currency. I'd first have to check out and Cirrus has a rather regimented program for that -- my 6 hours in the SR20 got me about halfway through it and when I'd spent $1000 I figured it wasn't practical. So, the FBO hasn't solved my problem. It doesn't seem there are other sources of reasonably priced, glass cockpit aircraft nearby that are available both for training and rental (Easton, Md.) A Cessna 172 would be fine, I have hundreds of hours in those, and I figure modest speed is helpful when you're trying to get back into the IFR routines. I am old enough to remember steam gauges and I suppose getting current with them would only require limited retraining, but I really like the situational awareness the G1000 provides. I figure it's safer.
Suggestions? There are LSA's available (at Bay Bridge Airport for example) that have a sort of glass cockpit. I've actually flown one a couple of times. Are those practical for instrument instruction? I know you can't actually file with them but surely that's better than a simulator. Does it make sense to regain currency with an LSA and then check out in the SR22? 
Regards,
Steve
11 Replies
Ronald Levy
945 Posts
I wouldn't recommend using an LSA for instrument refresher.  Most are not equipped with "standard" avionics or displays.  I'm not sure with which FBO at ESN you have been working, but last I knew, Trident has aircraft at Easton and Bay Bridge including G1000 C172's.
I would fly on steam gauges and get an iPad with Foreflight for the situational awareness that you're missing because you don't have the G1000 suite.
Steam gauges coupled to a Garmin 430 or 530 are IMO preferable.

Good luck.
You didn't say whether or not the FBO has a good Simulator.  I would try to find an FBO with a good simulator and get up to speed in the sim before jumping into an aircraft.
Ronald Levy
945 Posts

Stuart Lane:
You didn't say whether or not the FBO has a good Simulator.  I would try to find an FBO with a good simulator and get up to speed in the sim before jumping into an aircraft.

You're right -- I didn't, as I don't know.  Call them and ask. 410.604.1333
To the OP: What's wrong with a simulator? As a CFII, My students who were trained primarily in actual IMC and in simulators were consistently learning faster and had more confidence than the hood people, and at lower overall expense. I've always found hood time to be less valuable, even for my own currency.
Ronald Levy
945 Posts

James Ratichek:
To the OP: What's wrong with a simulator? As a CFII, My students who were trained primarily in actual IMC and in simulators were consistently learning faster and had more confidence than the hood people, and at lower overall expense. I've always found hood time to be less valuable, even for mSDy own currency.

Simulators are great for certain things, but for recurrency training, you want them to be representative of the aircraft to be flown, and then you want to put what you learned in the sim into practice in a real aircraft.  Personally, unless the trainee is so far out of currency that we need to go back to the basics, I find sims aren't particularly useful for recurrent training for light plane IFR.  At PIC, we don't even ship a sim for one of our 3-day refresher courses -- it's all in the aircraft.
If you learned on, and we’re at one point IFR current on round gauges, I second the suggestion of an iPad with a Foreflight subscription that has georeferened approach plates plus an aircraft with a GNS or GTN or equal certified navigator.  Back that up with a newly released cellular ready iPad mini to mount nearby if you feel syn vision is a must have or as a AHRS back up.  It also serves as a backup navigator in the event of a failure of your certified unit or other iPad.  Unless something has changed, FF allows the app to run on 2 iPads and one phone.  Whether Boeing alters that is unknown. Just for peace of mind as a last resort option, with a safety pilot, I flew several approaches using nothing but georeferenced plates on my IPad.  Same result as if done with my GTN.

IMHO, unless the sim can be configured to display the same layout and configured for the same avionics,  training time in the plane will be more beneficial.  An hour+ of sim time for regaining your scan proficiency etc might help initially, but today’s IFR is being very familiar with the buttonology of the new navigators in the plane you would likely be doing your IFR flying.  Throw in some turbulence, maybe a bit of real IMC, engine noise, background ATC chatter, a holding instruction change and a busy airport....all done to help prevent a helmet fire when it really happens.  As an aide, for the Garmin GTN series, a free app is available that is somewhat helpful, but be aware, the app lags Garmin firmware updates for the box in the plane.  

Bottom line, welcome back to GA!
I have the same issue.  Long hiatus for medical issue, all good now. 

Does anyone have any reccomendations for a great flight simulator I can fun on my mac or if not in a pc sim on mac?
Yes, X-Plane. It runs on Mac, PC and Linux. It's superb.

I purchased it via the Steam store which makes it easy to install on different systems. Here's their website: https://www.x-plane.com/
I also use X-Plane, and while it's great for procedural stuff (akin the chair flying to keep procedural stuff up to date), there are limitations when it comes to preparing for a real aircraft.  First there is no muscle memory, and if you're never going to get to a real aircraft it doesn't matter.  Next is what you do with the sim.  Several times I have "flown" my Instrument checkride, but without someone monitoring what I'm doing- or asking me to do something that is unexpected- it feels weird. I think having at least an instrument rated pilot, or better a CFII with you at the computer, would be advisable.  My third point is:  In the desktop sim you are 2-3 feet away from a flat 2-dimensional display, so your eyes never get to focus at infinity,  as they have to when you either break out on an approach or remove the view limiting device.  So be prepared to get a surprise when you first fly a real aircraft to minimums on an approach procedure.

On the other hand, I think s long as you are mindful of these limitations, using a desktop sim can be an advantage.