08/08/06, Greg's Note: I found this on the Internet many moons ago; this guy thinks like I do, Unfortunately, his original web page is not longer available, and I haven't found any place where he re-uploaded it. I snagged this copy via http://web.archive.org and loaded it here.


Jim Howard, if you come across this, contact me! I'd love to have your web site available again. - Greg Amy

Note: I wrote this during a period of angst, while my medication level was low. I disavow everything in this post. Don't read this long, boring, hysterical diatribe. Posting it is just part of my therapy.
-jh 1/19/96

[ Added January 2000: Especially don't read this if you are some old geezer who can't recognize satire when it bites you on the rump, and think that turn signals on cars are the work of the devil! Also notice the date! Since this was written I've done a lot of IFR flying, and I stand by every word here. We have within our grasp the power to make General Aviation airplanes much safer than they are now, and probably cheaper as well. We just need to do it.]


Am I Crazy, or Do I Have A Nail In My Head?


I'm (I hope) a bit past halfway through my training for my instrument rating, and I'm starting to feel that either the whole General Aviation IFR system is totally crazy, or I have a nail in my head.

First, let me mention that I am a retired USAF navigator with lots of "hard" IFR time in F-4 and F-111 aircraft, some of which was at 400' agl and 480 knots. I've flown all over the world in lots of different ATC systems.

While I'm still developing the hand-eye skills needed for instrument flying, I think I understand the overall IFR system fairly well.

I'm starting to feel like instead of "instrument rating", the guv'ment ought to call it the " Holding Pattern and Procedural ADF Approach Rating", since the main training emphasis seems to be on use of the ADF for holding and approaches.

I can now fly the T04 ADF approach both in the plane and in my sleep. When I pull the hood off, the runway is always in front of the plane. I can do this even when I turn off the panel mounted GPS that most of the planes I fly have, but which I can't "officially" use, since that would be considered some kind of cheating. So don't email me on how to fly a d**m ADF approach. I KNOW HOW, D**M IT. I JUST DON'T LIKE IT ONE D**M BIT!!!! I KNOW HOW TO DO LOTS OF DANGEROUS, SENSELESS THINGS!!!!! I TRY NOT TO DO THEM IN AIRPLANES!!!!!

The best ADFs are basically pieces of crap. Any d**m thing can affect them, probably when you need them most, from a thunderstorm to a pickup truck. There is really no way to tell if a needle swing is the system working ,or the if beacon or receiver are going to sleep, or if the ADF has just been distracted by some stray electron. Yet the guv'ment will allow an ADF to be slapped into an airplane without a second thought, even while they want to defund the NDBs that ADFs sporadically point at.

If I want to use GPS on an IFR flight the cheap and reliable panel mounted GPS becomes a complex, super- expensive monster requiring custom drawings, flight tests, mountains of paper-work, and a yards of wiring to analog displays, external warning lights (which duplicate the warning lights on the box itself) and super- elaborate "modal" software specifically designed to disorient the pilot if he should forget to press a button at the right time to induce or preclude an automatic mode change.

Holding patterns, there's another screwball thing. If I'm in an F-111 I might need to make a teardrop entry from time to time, and my HSI makes it easy to visualize and fly. I don't recall it being much of a deal to the Air Force how I did it, as long as stayed inside the protected airspace.

In a PA-28, with only a DG and ADF, why am I wasting precious neurons even thinking about picking between the three government approved pattern entries? Why not fly to d**m fix, fly away from the d**m fix outbound for a couple of minutes, and then turn back towards the d**m thing? Someone lookup the turn radius of an airplane making a non-accelerated turn at 85 knots and 3 degrees per second.

Of course the big question is, why the heck does it seem that half my d**m training seem to be directed to qualify me to fly a non-radar ADF approach in the first place? Both my CFIs say its cuz the ADF is a big bust item on the checkride, and I might want to fly the ADF approach to Alpine Texas someday. Well here's a free clue: I love West Texas and do indeed want to be able to file IFR to Alpine someday. There's no d**m way I'm flying the d**m ADF approach in a d**m PA-28 using only a d**m ADF. I'm going to fly a plane with a hand held or panel mount GPS and use THAT as my primary instrument. (Oh, I won't do it unless I have an "IFR Approved ADF" (as if an ADF should EVER be used for IFR navigation), and I'll even tune it off of WOAI and on to the NDB. Not that it makes much difference). I'm going to do this because its the safe and sane thing to do, since even the cheapest GPS is light-years more accurate and reliable than the most expensive ADF. I under stand what RAIM is, but heck, even without it, even a cheap GPS has SOME failure modes which allow it to tell you that it's gone off-line.

Some folks seem to say, "Yeah, ADF stinks, but I had to do it, so you should also. Besides, it builds character." HORSE HOCKEY!! Heck, if we want to build character let's bring back the four course range! Let's put TD lines back on the charts and use manual LORAN plotting, like I did in the T-29 21 years ago. H*ll, let's break out the d**m windows so our silk scarves can trail in the breeze. Where's my d**m driftmeter and sextant port! The Air Force taught me to cross the Pacific using a d**m driftmeter and barometric lines of positions. How many of you guys know how to get a d**m line-of-position using your d**m altimeter!! How about CONSOLAN!!! That's not something Novell makes, its another character-builder.

Why doesn't the ATC system encourage GA pilots to use a combination of VOR/ILS and GPS, and allow us to fly "ADF" approaches with any GPS box that can show that it is more safe and reliable than the average GA ADF, which is to say EVERY D**M GPS THAT'S BEING MADE TODAY!!!!! And since the d**m box is about the size of a pocket calculator, let's just say the antenna has to have a clear view of the sky. Zlin pilots can use handhelds, Skyhawk guys, get a d**m external antenna and you'll be fine. Spare me your war story about how your GPS froze up on you. Yeah, that might happen, have plan in case it does. It's still a lot safer than your d**m ADF.

Heck!! I forgot about the d**m simulators!!! I'm getting sim training from IFR Training Inc at 6R6. I have to use a wheezing, clanking, buzzing, piece of crap called an ATC 610. This was really hot technology back in 1929, when Link invented it. It's ok, I guess, but it's hardwired to one location, with the navaids configured as they were when We Liked Ike. This thing doesn't even have a true "freeze" button, which is the most used button in a real sim. I know, I was a sim instructor for years in the Air Force. Simulation is something I know something about, and by God, the guv'ment apparently doesn't.

Behind me, in the same d**m ,room professional pilots are pre-flying their trips using large screen PC's with actual flight models of their exact airplanes, with a proper instructor's console, and an overall true simulation of their airplane. They can't log this time, but they do it because they don't need to log time, they just want to be safer pilots. HELLO, BIG BROTHER! What are you thinking? How can pinball machines like the ATC 610 be "approved", while advanced digital part-task- trainers like the Elite and Jeppensen units are not?!!?

How about autopilots!?! Every d**m plane where I fly has one. I spent MONTHS learning to understand how the F-111 autopilot works. How many d**m airplanes splatter into mountains or spin out of holds because the pilot screws up the d**m autopilot? But does the IFR training syllabus have one word about autopilots?? HECK NO!!! WE'RE TOO D**M BUSY FLYING D**M ADF APPROACHES.



Jim Howard


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