Instrument Rating: Suggestions and/or Advice


Private Pilot setting out to begin my instrument rating. I’ve done most of my studying through the Gleim system thus far and it’s worked well. I’m reading the following books currently, “Fly the Wing” and “Instrument Flying Manual”.

I plan to take my written by December 1st.

Any suggestions or advice from those who’ve already gone down this road? Additional info to pursue? I’m in a position where my budget allows me to fly multiple times a week (thanks to my wife, certainly not me!).

I appreciate the thoughts.


Find an instructor NOT afraid to touch a cloud or go down to minimums. I had one that had me go down to ILS minimums, best lesson to build up confidence on days where quite a few IA rated pilots won’t launch.

Look for those days where touching a cloud is not an option.

Most of all, be patient, both in flying and in yourself. There will be days where you felt like you went through the meat grinder and beyond, as it is not only physically tiring, but a mentally tiring as well.

Most of all, if you get an instructor that is not afraid of a cloud, enjoy the view “on top”.

Baby turns, baby turns, no such things as yank and bank. Results are “gradual” (remember, patience!!)

I took a ground school at my FBO, so don’t know anything about DVD self training stuff.


What does your morning routine have to do with it :open_mouth: :question:


Ummm, you must be talking from experience and I lack that experience as I didn’t think along those lines and had to think that one alllllll theeeeee waaaaaay thruuuuuuuu :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Talk about carry over from the most skeeeriest moment in an airplane thread :stuck_out_tongue:


I saved a lot of money doing mine with a safety pilot vs. an instructor. Of course you need an instructor to learn maneuvers and all that fun stuff, but I did my cross countries and practice approaches with a safety pilot.

Also, did the ground school myself using the King DVD.


You can save a **little bit **of money (by aviation standards) by shortcutting instructor time, but in my opinion, in the complex world of IFR, that is one place I personally would not short change or shortcut an expense of IFR training.

The wisdom and experience of a good qualified instructor is priceless.

.**Instrument rating requirements for IA training requirements **

No less then 15 hours of instructor time and three hours of prep time from that instructor is required per FAA regs. So, you only save 22 hours of instructor time should you do the minimums AND accomplish your rating in a minimum amount of time.

The big question would be did your “safety pilot” know the ins and outs of the IFR system and would have he picked up on some subtle errors that maybe an instructor would have picked up on. Knocking out approaches in the local area, sure, absolutely use a safety pilot AFTER doing it with an instructor.

I would suspect you didn’t do your XC’s with an instructor and then practice it afterwards with a safety pilot.

In the full scheme of things instructor fee is quite small in expense. I did save a lot of “training expenses” by doing my IA rating in my own plane.


I agree with MOST of what he’s said, BUT Most instructors have less time flying IFR then most Private Pilots. They preach from a book of standards and have never flown IFR in the “real world”. Fly with your instructor as much as you can BUT get out there and use a safety pilot.

JUST DON’T fly from VFR into IFR.

The sad thing about IFR is if you don’t use it you lose it. ALSO if you have MS flight sim, use it and be true to procedures. KNOW how to enter a hold (most exp. commercial pilots don’t even know how, they have to rely on their FMS to tell them). AND USE YOUR CHECK LIST.


I’m glad you mentioned that ‘lieberma’. In my flying club, using a safety pilot is quite common. I really disagree with it, however. Exactly for the reasons you stated. Sure, it’s a good way to save $30/hr, but, that let’s assume that you fly 30 hours under the hood with a safety pilot, I’m OK with shelling out the $900 for an instructor in that case.

Thanks for the advice.



Ah, notice the word “good qualified” that I put in my sentence :wink:

You are right, quite a few qualified instructors are only time builders trying to transisition to bigger and better things…

I assume you mean VMC into IMC? Which further emphasises my point to **go with an instructor **instead of a safety pilot so you as a student can touch a cloud with a much lesser risk of an upset.

Yes, not only use that checklist, but also create an IFR briefing list.


Any suggestions or advice from those who’ve already gone down this road? Additional info to pursue? I’m in a position where my budget allows me to fly multiple times a week (thanks to my wife, certainly not me!).

I appreciate the thoughts.
Know the V speeds of your airplane like you know your name,stay in the clouds as much as you can,remember that it is "almost"impossible to plan too much,so use that approach to flight planning your IFR trips,never trust your body in the clouds and do you have a GPS in your plane? If so,great,turn it off and learn to use those needles as if they were an extension of your body. Then,later on you can turn it back on again some hours later.


Yes YES AND YES! One other thing to add. Scan, scan and scan those instruments.

It’s only a few more instruments then VFR flying, and if you think of it this way, it’s no big deal. On your partial panel experiences, it’s only a “few less”.

You can practice “scanning” while you are driving a car to and from the airport or even work and carry it over to when you fly.

Instead of just looking at the speedometer or what time it is or what station the radio is on, start scanning your other gauges such as oil pressure, rpms, any engine monitoring gauge and remembering those values as you still drive down the road. Don’t just look at them once, but make it a routine to check them as if you were flying the plane.

In driving, by you having to look outside to stay between the ditches, this forces you to “scan” at the various gauges, which is no different then IFR flying.


Also good advice…Because if you dont have a good scan…you dont have much of anything. Very good


Once you develop a reflective scan you will find that it stands you in good stead regardless of what vehicle you’re operating. E.g., in a car it helps fight “highway hypnosis” by forcing you to keep changing your focus.


It works wonders at the bar and health club too! :stuck_out_tongue:


Kind of a lost are over here in paradise.

The instrument rating is probably the single most important and useful rating you can get. I agree that it helps your every day VFR flights, your defensive driving skills will improve and if Wazzu is right it will help you pick up…uh…never mind. :smiling_imp:



I’d suggest finding a flight school with a good Frasca simulator. You can do a lot of the instrument instruction in a sim, and one hour of instrument instruction in a sim is equivalent to two or more hours in an actual airplane. If your instructor isn’t making you sweat in the sim, then find another instructor who will. This is where you should be pushed to the limits and then some from a single-pilot IFR workload perspective. If you can handle doing this, then you’ll be able to handle whatever is thrown at you in an actual airplane.

When you do fly in an actual airplane for instrument instruction, I’d suggest that you do it at night – not only will you get more night time experience, but the airways are a lot less crowded so you can do more practice approaches in less time. Of course, you’ll want to do a few in-aircraft lessons during the busy morning/afternoon periods to gain experience, but save that toward the end when you’ve pretty much mastered flying approaches, etc.

Good luck, and have fun getting your instrument rating.


Working on my Instrument rating now. But just figured out today I still have a long way to go. I have 13 hours in the sim (the limit) with an instructor and 5 under the hood. Another 25 to go. My instructor is convinced that you can’t use a safety pilot until after you have the rating. From what I am hearing in here, he is mistaken. But, as it is pointed out its still a good idea to have a CFi-i in the seat for a lot of the training hours.

But I do have a friend with an instrument rating who does use his rating. I would like to hear from others who use it real world.

I would highly recommend outfitting a good computer with Flight Simulator FSX. In many ways it is better than the FBO sim. It is fairly easy to find a good model of the plane you fly and even adjust the panel to be almost identical. I even found a complete Garmin GS430 that can be added to a plane. There are online groups that simulate ATC in FS which allows you to use the radio with real people. The radio seems to be one of my hang ups so far.

I guess I am a little at the overwhelmed stage right now. My stick and rudder are good, but I am struggling with everything you have to know. And questioning whether I can stay proficient.


I use my rating in the real world. In fact, if it wasn’t for my IA rating, I would not have been able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my sister in Alabama thursday. See the members video thread under General to get a flavor of how I use my instrument rating.

Just like flying on the gauges in the plane, be patient with your learning curve. There will be days your body felt like it went through the meat grinder and then there will be days that light bulb burns brightly as things come together.

I tell people when they ask me what is the difference between VFR and IFR certification, the VFR license is the college degree. The IA rating is the master degree of flying. Your head will spin literally and figuratively as you learn the ins and outs of the instrument world.

I am all for using a desktop simulator to get familiar with an approach, learning how instruments relate to needle movement and such.

I don’t think the sim will ever simulate flying an airplane just as hood time in VMC won’t simulate IMC so hopefully you won’t try to learn stick and rudder from MSFS.

My first memorable moment in flying was not my first solo. It was the first time I launched into 1000 foot ceilings and looked to the right and saw nobody was there to bail me out should I really muck it up.

Proficiency is “relative” I find that if I don’t do instrument work at a MINIMUM of 2 times a month, my scanning and flying skills degrade. Your mileage may vary.


You’re lucky! Round here most of the year we can’t stay in actual for more than half an hour or so without icing up.

Very true… My first time flying actual was a week after I got the instrument rating 3SM 700OVC. My dad was a passenger (has his PPL but no instrument rat.) and we were thick in the soup for the entirety of the 45 minute hop. Like Allen said it really is a memorable time. Kind of an erie feeling for me; making the realization I HAD to do the approach and everything correctly, as there was no one there to bail me out.

Last time I flew IMC was late september. Hand-flew a 1.45 hr flight. Auto pilot is a nice option, but it definately pays to keep the skills sharp. Plus, many GA instrument equp. planes still don’t have autopilot. (Unless it’s glass G1000 or something)

I don’t think anyone mentioned this, but if you plan on using the IR a lot, then invest in a nice hand-held radio/nav combo. I use a Vertex Pilot Standard III. Nice assurance that if you’re in hard, unavoidable IMC you have an “out” should you lose your alternator and avionics.

And as many people have already said get a CFII not afraid to fly in actual to miniumums. You “need” actual time with an instructor before venturing into it solo. Flying with the hood or foggles is definately different.


Very wise.