KUES - Instrument Practice                                       

10/27/2013 -

One of the things I had wanted to do before setting out for Rough River was to get instrument current.  There just wasn't enough time.  A couple of times in the last month I have contemplated spending some time either in the simulator or a 172 with an instrument instructor.  But it seemed to me that it would be best to get current in the Cozy, especially since the avionics are somewhat new to me.  Trying to learn instrument procedures on the EFIS while in the hangar is a little difficult.  One really needs to learn it either in the air or in a sim if possible.  Seeing as how there isn't a GRT EFIS simulator, in the air is really my only choice.  In order to do that I really wanted someone who had experience flying a Cozy to be in the right seat while I was sorting out the EFIS.  A trip out to visit Bob Bittner in Waukesha was in order.

I was to meet up with Bob the morning of the 27th.  My plan was to get up early and take off about 8am, putting me in Waukesha about 10am.  We'd likely do a little flying, than grab some lunch, then a little more flying before I took off for home.  But for whatever reason I just didn't have it in me to get up early, and it was after 10:30am before I finally took off.

Wanting to take the most direct route possible, I quickly put the new cooling to the test and climbed to 11,500' feet to go over Minneapolis class B airspace instead of risking a bunch of diversions by ATC.  I picked up flight following during the climb out, and was level at 11,5k and seeing a 200kt ground speed thanks to a 20kt quartering tailwind.  It took only a few minutes to clear the class B, but the smooth air and favorable winds made me decide to stay at 11.5, a decision that might not have been in my best interest in hindsight.

The direct route to Waukesha has a huge MOA/Restricted space (actually a series of 5 MOAs and 2 RAs all connected) that unfortunately were active during my flight out, so my trip would be extended a bit being I had to divert south to La Cross, WI to go around them. I had already had a tough time getting going in the morning, but after an hour or so I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be alert enough for practice approaches when I got to Waukesha.  As I got closer, I was really beginning to feel a bit tired, and started to wonder if perhaps the altitude was getting to me.  I grabbed my pulse oximeter to check my oxygen saturation, but quickly discovered the batteries didn't have enough juice left to get a reading and I didn't have another set.  I decided to start my descent anyway.  I arrived a little past Noon, and was thrilled to see my friend again, but I was completely exhausted.

Bob and I went to lunch first at a Mexican restaurant not far from the airport.  We then made a quick stop for batteries for my pulse/ox on our way back to the airport.  I was still a bit tired so we hung out in the FBO for a bit while I gave all the caffeine I consumed at lunch a chance to kick in.  Eventually I started to feel a bit more awake, so we went up to shoot a couple practice ILS approaches in order for me to get used to the interaction of the SL30 and GRT.  Turns out the interaction is pretty straight forward.  Tune the ILS on the SL30 and it just automatically displays the CDI needles on the EFIS.  No NAV/GPS button to switch, it just shows up.  Kinda cool.

After a couple ILS approaches we went back to the FBO, where I picked up some fuel to avoid paying a parking fee (I had plenty to get home without it), and put my ballast back in for the solo flight home.  I departed Waukesha about 4:15pm and quickly realized that the winds had shifted a bit and picked up a lot.  I now had a 52Kt direct headwind for the flight home.  I felt like I was back in a 172, watching my groundspeed struggle between 125 and 135kts.  Ugh.

The huge MOA/RAs encompassing much of central WI were still active on my return trip.  They finally went inactive just as passed the southwestern corner of them and could turn back on course.  What great timing.  As I got nearer to the Minneapolis class B airspace I realized that my lower altitude was going to put me at the mercy of ATC.  If they turned me off course much at all I would likely be making a night landing back home.  I used to like night flying a lot, but until the Cozy has a lot more time on it I'm not particularly thrilled about it.  As luck would have it they only diverted me a little bit, and I was landing at STC just after sunset around 6:30pm.  The return flight was a little over 2 hours, but I was once again tired.  Not sure why my energy level was so low all day.  Usually just the thought of taking the Cozy up pumps me full of adrenalin.  Still it was a great day of flying.

I didn't take any pics during the flights, just flying was taxing enough on me.  But Bob did take a video of my departure.  I will post it below as soon as I can.