Looking at my pilot logbook, I just realized that on my last cross-country trip, I finally achieved more hours flying in actual IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions—clouds) than simulated (wearing a view-restricting hood). That took more than seven years of having an instrument rating and doing most of my flying on an instrument flight plan.

Sadly, in those more than seven years, I logged only about 465 hours as a pilot, which doesn’t count my 2 hours of Boeing 737 time in a simulator. That’s a poor measure of the utility of an instrument rating, though, since many of my cross-country flights have 1 or 2 tenths of an hour in which I flew through a layer of clouds that was between me and my destination.

Clearly, I see a (late) new year’s resolution writing itself.

David Megginson January 02, 2012 20:31

Consider flying in the cloud layer rather than through it sometimes. I’ve occasionally picked an altitude in the only 2,000 ft cloud layer between the ground and the tropopause, just to log a bit of actual.

Michael K Johnson January 02, 2012 21:05

I’ve done that too. But a few thousand feet higher is a few miles more gliding range and more options with a plane full of my family, so I usually cruise 7K or above.

David Megginson January 02, 2012 21:10

7k is a good altitude to find clouds around here.

Michael K Johnson January 02, 2012 21:17

Thinking more about this, most of the layers I spend a tenth in are 2-4k; at 7-10K I am much more likely to be in scattered cu. But the trip that took me over the edge had multiple layers from about 2k up past 6k-7k where I was flying. ☺

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