Today’s lesson had me back in the foggles for a quick trip to Fayetteville (KFAY).  With the rise of GPS approaches, localizer back courses will soon be a thing of the past so it is cool to try them while they exist.

I arrived at the airfield and performed the pre-flight like normal.  My instructor asked me to check KFAY to see if the winds favor the Loc 22 BC.  Indeed they were.  We have talked about doing this approach for the last couple of lessons but one thing or another has caused us to change plans.  Mostly my club annual that I have mention about a million times.  Don’t worry, it’s done.  I won’t mention it anymore…. I promise.

Until next year…

So we jumped in the airplane and started our flight preparations.  I was able to setup the radios and our initial navigation mostly on my own.  My instructor had to prompt me a few times with phrases like… “What else can we setup ahead of time?”  I am starting to get better on the preparation but still have to button down a few things.

I set the primary and en-route radios, including the Localizer frequency for the approach.  Loaded up our initial flight plan, a simple direction KTTA->KFAY.

As we departed, my instructor gave me an initial altitude of 2500 and when I asked if we should turn toward KFAY, “You’re cleared direct to KFAY at 2500” and we were on our way.  I reached over and re-sequenced direct to KFAY and performed the match-set operations.  My instructor helped out by checking the ATIS and we were current with information Zulu.

At this point, I am thinking, how do I get ahead of the airplane.  Looking back, this in itself is progress.  Not too long ago, I was almost saturated and could barely think about what is next.  Anyway, back on point.  In futility, I tried to see if I could recognize the localizer, and since we were still pretty far away, no dice, makes sense.

Next, I called up Fayetteville approach. I did ok with the radio call here.  I was supplied a squawk code and and I asked for the localizer 22 BC practice approach.

After this we were given a vector.  During the next few minutes, I loaded up the localizer 22 BC approach plate and briefed. I started to really just skip over the frequency section.  My instructor made a point to make sure that we go over each of the fields.  This is good because I set these before we departed TTA.  If I skip that part on the brief or gloss over it, I may not catch a potential error.

At this point we get a call that we are cleared for the approach, on the missed, I was instructed to  climb runway heading to 2000 and contact approach on 133.0.  I briefed the rest of the approach and when I got to the missed approach section, my instructor said… “Are you sure?”  Doh, yeah I have the missed approach instructions from ATC and I read back those.

As we approached the localizer intercept, we were given another vector to establish and instructions that we were cleared for the approach.  Once established I made the call that we were established and the controller told us to change to tower frequency.  Once on tower we were cleared for the option.

I didn’t have too much of an issue with the reverse sensing.  I remarked as we got closer that you can really see the sensitivity.  I had read previously that it is really sensitive because the front course localizer antenna is actually broadcasting from the departure end of the runway. Since we were on the back course, that meant that it was near the approach end on our side, thus really sensitive.

I reached my minimums around this time so my instructor said “Hang here for a bit and let’s see how sensitive it gets”  I was splitting degrees to stay on course.  Cool.

Once I looked up, it was pretty neat to see the runway right there but also that a regional jet was holding short waiting on my slow little skyhawk to get on with it.

We went ahead and declared the missed and started the climb back to 2000 on runway heading.  Once back over to Fayettville approach, we were vectored back to TTA and cleared to IKTOW for the ILS LOC 03 Y approach.

As I was loading the approach, the GPS asks the question if we want to perform the procedure turn.  My instructor said “Do we want to?”  At first I said no because we were on the side of the hold entry that we don’t need to.  Really, I thought he was asking me if I wanted to do it.  It was a good lesson on identifying if you have to perform the procedure turn and we discussed more in debrief.

There are 5 times that you don’t have to perform the Procedure turn.

  • Vectors to final
  • Cleared for the straight in approach
  • We find “NoPT” on the plan view of the approach chart                            (And we did for IKTOW in the direction we were heading)
  • You are on a DME Arc
  • Timed approaches from a holding fix

This is where I had my biggest brain fart of the day.  I thought we talked about doing the LOC 03 Y approach and when I briefed, I started briefing the step down by identifying AMIRS.  It turns out, and if I listened, “You are cleared for the ILS 03 Y approach”.  The ILS is easier, though I was probably more off the needles this time than any other.  Slightly high and left.

It did prompt a good discussion in debrief about whether or not we can identify AMIRS. This comes down to the difference in having a DME vs GPS only.  The short of it is that we can’t use AMIRS without a real DME on board and calculating the distances is unacceptable.

All in all it was a good flight.  There were highs and lows, no pun intended. In the end, flying always puts me in a good mood.