February 2008 Issue

VFR For IFR Pilots

Sure, you can fly an ILS to minimums in a summer hurricane without breaking a sweat, but can you fly a VFR traffic pattern on a clear day?

It’s an interesting phenomenon: As student pilots, we master VFR traffic patterns in just a few hours. After earning the private, we work on our instrument rating. Initially, nothing is quite so nerve wracking as a difficult approach. Then, our careers progress and we land that big job. IFR becomes old hat—we can shoot that approach without a second thought. In fact, we get so used to "vectors to final" that we get the shakes flying a VFR traffic pattern at a small airport on a nice day—something we mastered thousands of hours ago. What causes this odd reversal and what can we do about it?

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