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Video: what’s the real IFR alternate?

Alternate airports are a required part of an IFR flight plan when your destination’s weather is forecast to be below 2000 and 3. But the filed alternate is almost never used in the real world. This video tip, from Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course, explains why and offers some tips for making safe, stress-free diversions if the weather doesn’t support your original plan.

Video: instrument approach lighting systems

Instrument pilots spend a lot of time thinking about approaches, but that usually means glideslopes and GPS procedures. Often overlooked in such discussions is the lighting system you hope to find at the end of the approach. This video tip, from Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course, explains what all those lights mean and how pilots can use them to transition from instrument flight to visual flights.

Video tip: flying procedure turns

Around major airports, vectors to final on an instrument approach are the norm. But outside radar coverage it’s common to fly a procedure turn to start an approach. This video tip reviews the basics of this maneuver, including when it’s required, what shape these turns take, and why the winds aloft matter. It’s a great 3-minute review for any instrument pilot.

Video tip: IFR departure considerations

Instrument approaches get a lot of attention, whether it’s the intricacies of WAAS approaches or the unique missed approach procedures at mountain airports. Most pilots spend far less time considering the instrument departure, which is equally demanding. In this video tip, taken from Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course, you’ll review the key elements of an instrument departure, when to file one, and what the difference is between an ODP and a SID.

Video tip: circle-to-land instrument approaches

Circling approaches are pretty rare these days, but at some airports they are the only option. While flying the approach to minimums is the same as a straight-in approach, what happens next leaves no room for error. This video breaks down the circling approach, including when it’s required, how close to stay to the runway, and what to do if you lose sight of the airport.

Video tip: flying IFR with glass cockpits

Are glass cockpits harder to fly than traditional round instruments? They don’t have to be. The whole point of systems like the Garmin G1000 is to be more reliable and safer. In this new video tip, learn three habits for mastering glass cockpit flying, from using bugs to interpreting trend lines. With a few tricks, you can learn a lot from a glass cockpit with a quick glance – and stop chasing the tapes.

Video tip: seven bad radio habits

Talking on the radio is an important skill for any pilot, but especially for instrument pilots where ATC interaction is what it’s all about. Sometimes it’s not what you say but what you don’t say that matters. In this video tip, we share seven things you should not say on the radio. From the improper use of “roger” to using too much information, don’t make these mistakes!

Video tip: IFR flight plans, fact and fiction

Filing a flight plan is an important part of any IFR trip, but just because you put something down in black and white does not mean you have to fly it. As this video tip shows, some parts of the flight plan are fact, and some are probably fiction – keeping them straight is essential for safe flying. Just because you filed a certain alternate airport, or a specific altitude, does not mean you have to fly that if conditions change.

Video tip: talking with air traffic controllers

Some pilots are afraid of Air Traffic Control (ATC), as if the voice on the other end of the radio is trying to catch pilots making mistakes. That’s just plain wrong, as this video shows. Controllers are humans just like pilots, and they’re actually there to help. Meet Eddie Albert from Cincinnati Approach and learn what controllers expect from pilots, plus some tips for getting the route you want in flight.

Video tip: staying cool under fire

Have you ever heard a pilot on the radio sound really nervous about flying in bumpy clouds? It’s a normal reaction, but it’s not a good way to fly IFR. In this video tip, learn some ways to become more comfortable in such conditions, and how to react when everything is bouncing around. With some preparation and the right mindset, you can do it.

Video Tip: IFR approaches and fog

In this month’s video, Rob Reider from Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course shares some valuable tips for dealing with fog and low visibility. You’ll learn the conditions that cause truly low approaches, how to predict them, and why certain types of fog are particularly dangerous.

Video tip: understanding IFR clearances

In many ways, clearances define instrument flying – what is IFR flight if it’s not about flying specific altitudes and routes? In this video tip, we cover some of the basics of IFR clearances, including what “cleared as filed” really means and how to handle void times. Then we’ll dive into some of the finer points of ATC, including VFR-on-top and cruise clearances.