On 6/3/15 due to the cloudy weather Tom decided to setup for IFR training. The flight was from Caldwell to Orange county airport in NY state. Tom filed a flight plan.
We started with our normal preflight procedures. Once seated and followed check list procedures, I started my engine, checked ATIS and setup my instruments accordingly. Tom monitored radios and I piloted the plane.
I discovered IFR is an interesting process. We were on a strict time line with no time to waste. Tower cleared us for take off from runway 4 via IFR. As I lifted off the runway there was nothing but clouds in view and I was heading straight into them. We flew with ATC assistance (I felt like a little kid excited about trying a new feature on my toy). Once at level flight and at 4000ft Tom pulled out the blinders! It was time to fly the plane with the instruments and no peeking outside (not that we could see much outside anyway due to clouds).
I placed my blinders on and flew my plane with my eyes on the instruments. Tom would adjust the compass bug as he received heading and altitude instructions. My job was to fly the plane following the setting Tom had made and follow altitude instructions. There was a lot of radio communication going on we could hear ATC instructing other aircrafts as well. The ATC controlled IFR traffic. I learned it was important to stop any chatter between us when radio communication is going on. We have to ready to respond in case they called us with instructions.
After flying with my blinders on for a while Tom instructed me to take off the blinder and wouldn’t you know it, I was on final approach for Orange county airport. I was amazed how the ATC put us right course and where we needed to be while flying in the clouds. I did notice that the Orange County airport weather was sunny and clear. I thought we were going to do a touch and go but Tom instructed me to continue flying over the airport. He radioed in our intentions and once again we were back in IFR mode. The blinders came back on. Before I knew it, my blinders came off and Caldwell runway 4 was right in front of us. I proceeded to land for a full stop back to Fischer parking.
What did I learn: IFR is serious flying. it is important maintain heading, perform 15 degree turns, set proper perimeters, altitude must be +/- 100ft of the given altitude and speed +/- 10knots. Also stop any conversations when radio communication is going on. Finally, trust your instruments !! I really enjoyed the flight this training was awesome!