Maintaining IFR currency for instrument rated pilots is a challenge if you are based in Florida. The Sunshine State almost always lives up to its moniker, and the only opportunity to get some real IMC time is in and around thunderstorms, (not advisable) or the occasional warm or occluded frontal boundary.
To legally file IFR and fly in the “soup”, you must be instrument current on a 6 month calendar basis, by one of two methods, or some combination of the following:
a. Fly and log 6 instrument approaches in actual IFR conditions, with holds, tracking and intercepts.
b. Fly and log 6 instrument procedures, demonstrate holds, tracking and intercepts while wearing a view limiting device. This is accomplished with an appropriately rated safety pilot in the right seat, while in VFR conditions.
If you fail to log at least 6 instrument approaches in some combination of the above, within the 6 month time frame, you cannot file IFR and fly on instruments.
This weekend, I chose to maintain my instrument privileges by flying with a Certificated Flight Instructor-Instrument (CFII) in the right seat, to act as my safety pilot and critique my skill set. Instrument skills deteriorate pretty quickly if they are not used on a regular basis. By flying with an instrument instructor, I can receive an IPC, or Instrument Proficiency Check endorsement in my log book. This documents that I am current and proficient.
With the CloudAhoy app and an iPhone, we tracked my flight and it is pictured below. We departed from Leesburg, FL (LEE), and flew south. After contacting Orlando Approach on 119.4, we were vectored and then cleared for the RNAV/GPS RW7 approach at Orlando Executive Airport, (ORL).
After completion of the approach, ATC vectored us on a 270 heading to set up for the ILS RW7 at Executive. I hand flew the ILS to minimums, with less than a 1 dot deflection on both the localizer and glide slope.
After the second missed approach, we climbed to 2,000 feet and turned north to set up for the RNAV/GPS-A at Orlando/Apopka Airport, (X04). You can see the tear-drop shaped procedure track turn north of the airport, over Grand Island, and the inbound course reversal to RW 15.
After completing that low approach at Orlando/Apopka, we turned to 090 degrees, climbed back to 2,000 feet, and contacted Orlando Approach for the RNAV/GPS RW 03 at Leesburg. Initially our path was to the west, but we were soon vectored due south, over Lake Apopka, for sequencing into Leesburg. Once separation requirements were met, we were cleared for the approach.
At the end of the flight, I logged 2.0 hours on the Hobbs meter, 1.6 simulated instrument, and received a fresh IPC endorsement.