IFR Cross-Country

High above the clouds in our C172p
somewhere on our IFR-Cross-Country from KRHV to KLVK


In the chapter "VFR Cross Country“ you learned how to prepare and fly under VFR-rules from KRHV to KLVK. You also learned to read and understand the instrument-readings by visualizing them against the actual, outside environment. Now we will learn to trust those instrument-readings -- without being able to verify those against the actual outside environment! That should introduce you to some very different feelings
Do not underestimate especially the second item: Even experienced pilots always have to fight against the "inner feeling" and the "outer instruments". For you it will be even worse: Real Pilots still "feel with there butt" what is going on - you cannot! ... It is getting really difficult when you cannot trust yourself any more!

We will make it relatively easy by following pretty much the same flight as we did in the "VFR Cross Country“. So you know at least the environment, the airports, etc. If not: Please do the "VFR Cross Country“ first!

In addition we will play "ST.Peter" and cook ourself a real nice weather - the recipe being:
To me that sounds very interesting, especially when you discover that the airport KLVK has a field-altitude of 400 ft, that means: You will come out of the clouds just 350 ft above the runway with a visibility of 1 mi!  I hope you know by now how to control your glide-slope and direction - you will not have much time/room to correct anything after being able to see the runway (or not!)!

If that did not frighten you, let us discover this new world, with lots of nice abbreviations, procedures - and fun:


I am very sure that most beginners will consider the following complex preparation for such a short flight as absolutely excessive. Even real pilots do that - but they do want to get/keep their pilot-license, their life, etc., and thus they have no choice!

And yes: Also I heard about (and use) GPS and also I use "Route Manger" and alike: Just defining where you are and where you want to go - and let the autopilot do it! But then there comes the time when an ATC asks you to "report in over VOR ..." and then "?????" - what is a VOR (or NDB or ...)? And for sure there will come the time when you get bored of always flying under blue skies without any challenges!  In addition it will become boring just leaving all the fun to the autopilot - some time you will like to know what that is - and that we will try to tell you now!

This very short flight actually needs all the pre-flight preparations that also a long flight needs - so let us cut out the (boring) pure flying time and concentrate onto the "unusual" things! After you then understand the principle, you can always test it on e.g. a Transatlantic-Flight (even though that may not be with a C172!)

(If you want to get more details about IFR: See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IFR


To help avoid crashes in mid-air there is a general agreement that airplanes do fly on different altitudes, when going east- or west-bound: Those rules are:

cruise Heading
cruise Heading
if on  IFR Odd numbers
(3000, 5000, ... ft)
Even Numbers
(4000, 6000, ...ft)
if on VFR
+ 500 ft
(3500, 5500, ... ft)
+ 500 ft
(4500, 6500, ... ft)

For this very short flight we stay as low as possible:


Especially in the newer versions of FlightGear the GUIs to set the weather are very different, but the basic commands are still valid. So we will play "Weather-God" by entering some options when starting up FlightGear. If you are not sure how to do that, see the chapter Starting Manual:

--ceiling=750:3250 that will define a cloud-layer between 750 to 4000 ft
that will set the visibility to 1 mile (above and below the cloud-layer!)
--wind=270@5 that wind will assure that the runway KLVK 25R is the active one (if we fly as "Multiplayer" we should make sure that no other pilots are flying in that area with "real weather", which may give them other active runways, etc.!)

These settings result in:
IFR on Runway
Ready to Start at KRVH with the weather we cooked ourselfs!!

Now that looks somehow depressive - so let us get a little reward in between - let us add the option:


That will give us "a very uplifting moment when rising above the clouds into a bright sunny world, with blue skies above and a carpet of white below" -- after getting there we might need that "uplift" desperately!

Needed Options

You may define the needed options inside a "Options-file"  or within a complete "Command-File":
If you are used to "start with an options-file", e.g. located at:

Linux: "~/.fgfsrc“
Windows: "$FG_ROOT/system.fgfsrc“

then you might just add the following options to it:


The first 3 options define the Parking-position, as we used it already for the VFR-Cross-Country.

In addition you have to set all the Radios - but that we can do easier when sitting in the cockpit!

A "Command-File" contains ALL commands you will need, and you can place it anywhere you want, e.g. also onto the desktop.

See the description for it and the complete "Command-file" I used for this flight in "Start with a Command-File" in the Part "Briefing".


The IFR-Route
Because we really wanted this "nice" weather, we now have to find a route from Reid-Hillview (KRHV) to Livermore (KLVK). From our VFR-Cross-Country we know already that we cannot do that below the clouds - so we fly in or above the clouds and find other means to navigate: So now we speak about using Radio-Navigation!

And that Radio-Navigation means, that we cannot not take the direct route as before, but now we choose some routes that we can define by radio-signals - which also gives us a chance to get to know all the radios in our beloved c172p. (Well: You may take another airplane - but then I am not sure what Radio-Equipment you have!)

I again used the "http://www.runwayfinder.com/“ to define the IFR-route - if you want to revisit the generall description of such a chart again: See the chapter "The Sectional“ in the book VFR-Cross-Country.

In the picture on the left you see a part of that Sectional with
  • the route to fly in green (the numbers will also be referenced in the following chapters)
  • and the radio-signals used in blue (3 VORs (5-7) and 1 NDB (8))
  • see also the marked "V334" alongside the radial 009 FROM SJC, just as an example for an airway!
If you are not sure how to use the radios, revisit
  • the Radios in general in the part  Radio-NAV 
  • the details about the ADF/NDB in the sub-chapter  ADF / NDB
  • the details about the VORs in the sub-chapter  COM/NAV-Radios
Remember that we had a picture that shows how all those radio-frequencies are set: See Easy-Setup

But first we need to analyses one more piece of this puzzle: The IAP

IAP: The"IFR-Approach-Procedure"

As you recall from the previous "VFR Cross-Country", you don’t just point your airplane to the nearest runway to land. You need to fly a pattern. This helps you to line up, and it helps prevent planes from crashing into one another - thus procedures are really helpful.

Similarly with IFR landings: Of course there’s a procedure to follow. In fact, there are many procedures to follow! Because of the complexity of landing in IFR conditions, there’s no single procedure for all airports. You need to check them for your particular airport. In fact, you usually need to check for your particular airport, runway, and navigation equipment.

We covered the following in detail in part "RNAV", chapter "IAP", so you might have a look there for details about how to analyze it, and decide what to do. Here just the analysis-extract of that, as we need it for our approach:
First let us find the beginning of the procedure, lucky enough there is a special mark for it: The IAF (Initial Approach Fix). Looking into the pink area we find 2 of those:
  1. In the center of the pink area you find the LOM/IAF REIGA: This is a NDB with 2 functions:
    • As LOM it defines a unique point on the final-approach (we will see/use that later). It is located 6.1 nm before the Touchdown Area of the runway and should be passed on an altitude of 1039 ft.
    • As IAF it is the starting point for the IAP. Based on the NDB it is easy to find: Just set the frequency 374 into the ADF and follow the needle. Defining the altitude is a little more complicated, because of the dual function of this point! As defined here that amounts to
                                  • 1039 for the LOM (in the pink area)
                                  • plus 2409 (IAF, in the yellow part) added to that
                                  • == 3448 ft
  1. At the right center of that pink area you see the second IAF, that one is named TRACY. There is a "Procedure Turn" attached to that one - so in real life ATC might send us there to wait, when there is much arriving traffic, or if we have to execute a  "missed approach procedure (see in the white box at the top right!). Finding this one is not that easy - but we learned how to do that in the part "RNAV", chapter" Finding a FIX-point": Here we would find it by the crossing of two VOR-radials:
                                  • 157° FROM VOR "SAC" (SACRAMENTO) on 115.20
                                  • 229° FROM VOR "ECA" (MANTECA) on 116.0
Finally let us also have a look at FOOTO (about half way between "TRACY" and "REIGA"): That one is located on the "radial 229°, 20.8 nm FROM VOR ECA", thus it is easy to find for us and thus we can use it to double-check our position.

Having found the IAFs we now can start following the IAP-procedure:
  • We are coming from the south so we will use the IAF nearest to us: The "IAF REIGA". On first sight that looks very easy: We just turn left and follow the localizer to the runway - BUT:
                                  • the IAP shows a big fat line to the right that ends in a line with a half-arrow pointing to the north-east (marked with 030° and 210°)!
                                  • and anyhow: We are not on the right altitude of 1039 ft as required at that point (LOM) of the localizer
                                  That means we have to do a "Procedure Turn" to the right, away from the airport!
  • So we follow the advise of the chart, ending in an ILS approach
                                  • from the NDB REIGA we follow that fat line on a heading of 075° - away from the airport (above the other traffic on final approach!)
                                  • before the outer 10 nm circle (see the note top-right in the yellow field) we turn left to a heading of 030°
                                  • we follow that 030° while slowly starting to descent to 3300 ft
                                  • after another 2 min we turn right to a heading of 210°
  • Then we start a standard ILS-Approach    (if you forgot how-to: See the part "RNAV")
    • we stay on 210° until intercepting the Localizer  I-LVK (heading 255°, frequency 110.5 (see the header on the top-left of the IAP!))
    • then we follow that localizer while descending to 2800 ft
    • and stay on 2800 ft until we intercept the Glide-slope for our final descent
  • When we then cross our old friend NDB REIGA again, now (hopefully!) on 1039 ft, we know we are fine: Over the "Outer Marker" (LOM),  6.1 nm before "Touch Down"!

Flying the IFR Cross-Country:

We definitely do want to try as much of the IFR procedures as possible - and even if for some parts there are easier ways to do something - we will test all of our Radio-Equipment! So let us set all radios as seen in the chapter "Easy -SetUP".

If you do not feel comfortable handling all that radios and procedures the first time while being "blind", you might do one (or two) test-flights without setting the weather as shown above. But I urge you at least to try it afterward under IFR, a couple times!

1) From KRHV to the V334

We will start at Reid-Hillview (KRHV) as usual and climb to 5000 ft, following the same Take-Off procedures as for our previous "VFR Cross Country". It really is exactly the same as we have done many times before - except that above 750 ft you will not see anything from the scenery! And remember: We often proposed: "Do not just follow the needle - keep an eye on the real horizon outside". That now changes to the reverse - drastically:

When you enter the clouds, you will be momentarily disconcerted by the lack of visual cues. “No matter,” you then think. “I’ll just keep things steady.” In a few moments, though, you’ll probably notice dials and needles spinning crazily, and without knowing it, you’ll be flying upside down, or diving towards the ground, or stalling, or all three. It takes practice to get used to flying without external visual clues, although it’s a skill that you definitely must master if you want to fly IFR.

Of course you could make it a little easier for yourself by using "George", the autopilot - but that way you would not really discover the wonderful feeling of constantly changing instrument-readings while you are sure to be on a nice, steady flight. I urge you not to miss this wonderful scary experience! So you might ask George for help during the first try! But you definitely need to repeat this experience also without George, if you want to achieve some professional flying-skills.

In case you ask George for help despite all I said:
Once you’ve established a steady rate of climb and heading, engage the autopilot by pressing the AP button. You should see “ROL” displayed on the left to show that it’s in “roll mode” — that means George is keeping the wings level. In the middle it will display “VS”, to show it also is in “vertical speed” mode — i.e. it is maintaining a constant vertical speed. On the right it will momentarily display that vertical speed (in feet per minute). Initially, the value is your vertical speed at the moment the autopilot is turned on. See the vertical speed indicating 300 FPM (feet per minute).

Be careful: Sometimes the autopilot gets a very funny idea about what your current rate of climb is, it might believe to be 1800 feet per minute, or so! Our little Cessna cannot sustain this, and if the autopilot tries to maintain this (and it will), you will stall before you can say “Icarus”. This may be a bug or you just pulled the yoke too much or there was a gust just when George became active! Whatever: Take it as a useful cautionary lesson — don’t put blind faith in your equipment. Things fail. You have to monitor and cross-check your equipment, and be prepared to deal with problems. You are the "Pilot in Command" - not George!

We want a vertical speed of around 500 to 700 feet per minute. Hit the up and down (UP and DN) buttons to adjust the vertical speed to a nice value. We want a sustainable rate of climb while the airspeed remains at about 75 kn. More "UP" will reduce that speed - more "DN" will increase it!

Once we are climbing nicely, you can ask George to also control the heading: So make sure the red heading-bug is in on 310°, before you hit the heading (HDG) button. Then “ROL” will change to “HDG”, and the autopilot will turn the airplane to track the heading bug. Since you had set the heading bug to the runway heading 310°, and you took off straight ahead (didn’t you?), it shouldn’t have to turn much.

In case you get to the 5000 ft prior to our next chapter, push "ALT" again at that 5000 ft, that will lock in the actual altitude to be hold!

Otherwise:  (i.e. you want to have that fun for yourself)
You should use the trimming excessively, vertically (Num-Keys 0/,) and horizontally (Num-Keys 8/2)  - that will become a big help in taming that wild beast (named "C172p")!

And now you really have to prove that you learned to watch the instruments, remember the "golden T":
Keep your eyes moving all the time, reading
  • Airspeed: during the climb 70-80 kn
  • Gyro-Horizon: horizontally straight but vertically indicating the climb 
  • This Instrument now is the most important one, because it shows you very fast your actual attitude - while all other instruments have very noticeable time-lags!
    • Locate and watch especially that little dot directly in the center (looks like a cross-hair for aiming) -- keep it where you want it!
      • exactly on the artificial horizon when cruising leveled, above the horizon when climbing and below it when descending
      • the first short line indicates ~500 FPM and the long one 1000 FPM
      --> So for now it should be between the first short and long line above the horizon
    • and of course you see your banking
    After the real horizon (which we do not have inside the clouds!) this is now our most important guidance for our flight attitude!
  • Altitude: steady climbing
  • Heading: 310° - means according to your flight-plan or departing procedure - set the red bug for a fast reference - that will help a lot!
  • Once in a while we also will check the other instruments
Force yourself not to overreact! Use only minimum corrective actions and give those instruments time to collect the changing data prior to displaying the changes - and even then: Do not chase the needle! Try small corrective actions - and increase those step by step when needed!

As soon as we are on a stable climb we will have to start watching the NAV1 CDI: We wait for that needle to start moving from the left to the center, so that we can intercept the radial "SJC FROM 009°" to enter the airway "V334"!

2) Following the V334 to SUNOL, passing MISON

As soon as the NAV1-CDI (set to VOR SJC 114.1 MHz, Radial 009) starts to move towards the center, we will turn right to a heading of "009°".

If George is doing the work:
Those who delegated the work already, now just have to tell George what to do
» either by rotating the "red bug" inside the Directional Gyro to 009°
» or, if they are really lazy, they just push "NAV" on the AP.)

We time our turn such, that the CDI is centered when we see the heading "009°" on our Gyro-Compass. Do not be alarmed if you do not really get the CDI and Compass aligned first time - we just start to use our usual VOR procedures to get and keep the CDI centered: Just turn a little (10 to 20°) into the direction the CDI points, until wait till the CDI is centered. Continue trying to keep the CDI centered. Thus we hold our course above ground - with whatever heading is needed for that! (Probably that heading is a little less then 009° because the Wind (270@5) is coming from the left!)

Verifying our position:
If you now look along our route, just after we intercepted the 009 radial and turned north, we pass a point labeled MISON (see in our flightpath the crossing of the blue lines 5 and 6, and see it enlarged in the RNAV-part chapter "The NAV-Radio"). MISON is an intersection. We’re going to use it to monitor our progress for 3 reasons:
    First: It’s nice to know exactly where we are.
    Second: It confirms we are where we think we are.
    Third: To exercise "How to find a FIX"

For that exercise we had set all radios already according to the chapter "Easy -SetUP", so:
Continue to watch your needles and displays closely: Remember that there are mountains close by, that raise over 3800 ft altitude!

Getting George to work   (ref.: AP)
We now will stay some time above the clouds and
should take a time-out to recover from this "wonderful scary experiences"
and take some time to prepare for the approach to KLVK
thus we ALL will involve George now:

Let’s look a bit more closely at the autopilot display (and forgive me that the picture shows 4000 instead of 5000):
  • HDG: The actual mode of holding the direction is the "red bug" in the Gyro-Compass
  • NAVARMed: The AP is in transient from HDG to NAV mode, i.e. it will start to follow the CDI of the NAV-1 soon
  • ALT/ALTARMed: Those 2 "ALT" over each other define that we are leveled at the preset (ARMed) altitude of 4000 ft. Those 2 "ALT" could be replaced by other values, like:
    • VS/ALT: Would mean the AP is changing to the predefined altitude, with the FPM defined by  the UP/DN settings
    • VS/(blank): Would mean the AP is just going UP/DN (without a predefined altitude to achieve!)
    • a flashing "vPT" or "^pt" to the left of "ALT" would suggest to trim the AoA. If you do not follow that suggestion, you might experience some surprise, when later on George returns a badly balanced aircraft back to you!!
Don’t forget that the autopilot won’t adjust the throttle, so when you change from/to UP/DN/cruise, the airplane (and engine) will change speed. You’ll need to adjust the throttle to keep a proper cruise speed.

Prepare yourself for SUNOL
By now we  should be closing in onto the FIX SUNOL, so let us prepare for things we will need there: And then we wait that the CDI of the NAV2 moves to the center (while of course the CDI in NAV1 remains centered!).

Using the DME
And while waiting for the CDI-2 to center, let’s introduce another piece of gear on the panel that will cross-check the SUNOL passage. Some VOR stations have a feature, called DME (Distance Measuring Equipment). For example, San Jose does (remember it says in it's name already "VOR-DME"), also Oakland and Manteca do have a DME, because "VORTAC"s always include the DME capabilities.

Using the DME, you can find out how far you are from the VOR station, in a straight-line distance. In our scenario, the DME isn’t necessary, but we’ll use it anyway, just to see how it works, and to reconfirm our position. Have a look to the chapter DME in the part RNAV!

The DME shows you 3 things: the distance in nautical miles to the station, your speed towards or away from the station, and the estimated time to the station at the current speed. Note that the distance is the direct distance from your plane to the station (called the “slant distance”), not the ground distance. Note as well that the speed is relative to the station, so unless you’re flying directly to or from the station, it will probably be lower than your true ground-speed. For example, the speed from San Jose, which is directly behind us, should be greater than the speed towards Manteca, which is off to the right. You may select the wanted VOR with that little knob in the lower left corner:
    Position 1 is NAV-1 = VOR SJC    (San Jose), this is a trustable source for time and speed and distance (you are moving direct to/from it)
    Position 2 is NAV-2 = VOR ECA  (Manteca), you can trust for distance only (you are NOT moving direct to/from it)

Who/What is SUNOL
Just to notice again how well all IFR-data are, let us look up the informations about SUNOL: e.g.: http://www.airnav.com/airspace/fix/SUNOL

Information on fix SUNOL

Identifier:  SUNOL
Name:  SUNOL
Location:  37-36-19.910N 121-48-37.010W
Navaid radial/DME:  OAKr093.00/20.97
Fix use:  Reporting point
Published:  yes
Charts:  IAP
Nearest city:  Scotts Corner (Alameda county), CA, USA
Nearest landing site:  KLVK - Livermore Municipal Airport (5.3 nm away)
Nearest airport:  KLVK - Livermore Municipal Airport (5.3 nm away)
Nearest public use airport:  KLVK - Livermore Municipal Airport (5.3 nm away)
So let us sit and wait, until we arrive at SUNOL!


As defined and preset before, we know we are at SUNOL, when
  1. The two radials cross, i.e. both CDI's are entered: 
    1. We are still following the "SJC FROM 009" with a cantered CDI-1
    2. We have set "ECA radial 229" into NAV-2 and are waiting for that VOR-2 CDI to center
  2. When the CDI-2 centers we should see on our DME (set before to "N2" (or "HLD") as you might remember!) the distance of about 33 nm - do not look for inches, but if the distance is less than 30 nm or  above 35, then it is time to recheck what you did!

When we are over FIX "SUNOL" we turn right to follow the ADF-pointer towards the NDB REIGA, because we know: That is where our IAP begins!

We still have George doing the work for us,
    » so set the "red bug" in the Directional Gyro to about the direction to REIGA
    » push the "HDG" at the autopilot
(from now on we follow the "red bug" inside the Directional Gyro, instead of the VOR-CDI!)
    » and then adjust the "red bug" so that the ADF-needle becomes vertically centered
(we do not really care what heading that is - we just need the ADF-needle vertically centered!)

If you did not yet report into KLVK-Approach then it is high time to do so now !
e.g. type into your screen:
    "'382" (on US-Keyboard, "-382" on German keyboards, see more details on the "VFR Cross-Country")
    »that outputs: "KLVK approach, I am with you (inbound)"
So we now follow that "ADF-pointer", keeping it always pointing straight upward - independent of what heading is shown in the "heading Indicator"! As we learned in the chapter ADF/NDB we probably will be flying a little a bow - but on that short distance we do not really mind!

While on the way to REIGA we will already set the "windrose-scale" inside the ADF-Display to 75 - just in preparation for the upcoming, more busy timeframe when we need to fly outbound from REIGA on a 75° heading!

And then we continue to follow that ADF-needle, until it starts swinging around 180° - that is when we know we arrived at REIGA (i.e. crossed it!).

If you still have some time to spend, have a look onto that wonderful new "MAP": menu --> Equipment --> Map
» activate in the top left: "Traffic" and "Navads"
» and may be zoom in/out with your mouse-wheel
» move it with the left mouse-button pressed
If you want to know more about it, see the chapter "MAP" in RNAV

4) The "Procedure Turn“

So, once we hit REIGA, do we just turn left and head down to the runway? Ah, if only life were so simple. No, we turn right, away from the airport, and do a procedure turn. We know there’s a procedure turn because of the barbed arrow in the plan view (compare the IAP at the beginning). As you can see: If you follow the arrow, we need to fly away, on a heading of 075°, then turn left 45° to a heading of 030°. We do a U-turn (to the right, away from the airport — that’s one of the rules about procedure turns) to come back at 210°, then a 45° right turn to 255°, heading straight towards the runway. All of this turning gives us time to set ourselves correctly on course, at the right altitude, to land on 25R.

One thing the instrument approach procedure does not tell you is the length of the procedure turn. The only constraint is that you must not fly more than 10 nm away from the NDB. You’ll notice there’s a 10 nm circle drawn around it in the plan view, and a note in the profile (yellow) view saying “Remain within 10 NM”. They’re not kidding. So, since we fly at around 110 knots, two minutes on each leg is reasonable — two minutes at 075°, and two minutes at 030°. On the way back we don’t care about times — we just want to intercept the localizer for runway 25R (255°).

Outbound, 2min on 75°

When we approached REIGA, we weren’t particularly concerned about our course — we just aimed for REIGA. Now, however, our course and altitude is important! Remember: We are now flying opposite to the "traffic on final" - and that may be just about 1000 ft below us, and of course there may be more traffic just on approach with us! So we should not deviate from the procedure, that everybody expects us to follow!

IFR_ILS-ADF-Track.pngWe want to fly directly away from REIGA on a course of 075°. You noticed: "course" - not "heading"! That means "leaving" KLVK on a straight line from the runway 25R (=255°!) via the NDB REIGA to the outside.

(I just hope you did not notice, that this is what we usually call the "ILS-Backward" or reverse! (See e.g. the Autopilot "REV" setting.) So in this unique case we could just follow the 25R ILS-Radial "From" -- But please do not! We proved already that you can follow a "From" radial, that is getting boring - let us try something new:)

We will use something like a NDB-radial: Before crossing the NDB we did set the "ADF display"-wind-rose to 075° (see the picture at the left) - and then, when we cross the NDB, we turn right to the new heading of 075° (just rotate the "red bug" inside the Heading indicator!). After that turn:
  • The "heading indicator" defines we are on heading 075°
  • But the ADF is stubborn and continues to point to the NDB at somewhat around 230°  - but looking onto the following sketch we want to have the NDB behind us at 255°!
IFR_ILS-Intercept.pngActually we follow a course like the green line in the left picture - because even the little Cessna cannot fly corners! But definitely we have to follow the big fat arrow pointing to "075° Reverse Course" - otherwise our instructor and/or ATC will not be satisfied!

That means we have to do something like what the red line proposes! But how do we know when we are on that "NDB-radial"? (remember: we do not want to use the ILS at this point!)

Well - by inventing the name "ADF-radial" I suggested you do the same as what we learned when following a VOR-CDI: In this case turn a little to the right until the ADF-needle centers and then fly keeping that ADF-needle centered (i.e. vertically pointing 075/255°). That way we should be on course! And on the sideline you now learned why there is a "movable wind-rose" inside the "ADF display"!

That way we can use the ADF like a VOR radial! BUT we keep in mind that this NDB-radial by far is not as exact nor as long reaching as an ILS! Actually: If you would use this NDB-method later on for our final approach (those last 6.1 nm from the LOM to Touchdown), you could get a deviation of about 1/3 of a mile! And that is just the mathematical part! You will find out that even when following the ILS-Localizer (manually) you will have some deviation, add that 1/3 nm to that and you really will have problems getting onto the runway! (At least with the weather-conditions we have set!)

We now learned and never forget the 2 basic characteristics of an ADF/NDB navigation:

The ADF-needle always points to the station.
We can just follow it to the station, but it may not always be the shortest, straight course!

If the ADF-compass card is set to our current heading, then the needle also gives us the bearing to the station.
That way we have some kind of a radial like with the VOR-navigation, but by far not that exact!
(And not usable by the Autopilot!)

While you’re flying outbound, take an occasional look at VOR2 and the DME, both are still tuned to Manteca. Assuming the OBS is still at 229° then at some point the needle should center, meaning you’ve crossed the 229 radial: At that same time the DME should read 20.8. How do I know that? If you look at the IAP-picture, you’ll notice an intersection, named FOOTO. FOOTO is on the approach, and is defined to be 20.8 DME from ECA. Although this intersection is not strictly necessary for us, it comes for free, and provides good confirmation of our position both outbound and, later, inbound.
But remember: We must be on 3300 ft when intercepting the localizer (see the yellow area in the IAP!)
so we start to descent as soon as we are on the of 45°:

Get George to do the descent (or not):

This whole "Procedure Turn" is relatively uneventful, so now you might take advantage of the lull in the action to descend to 3300:
With George:  you will need to do a few things:
  1. Push the "ARM"-button and Rotate the big wheel below it to display 3300 at the right side of the display.
    • “ALT ARM” should appear in the bottom line of the display.
  2. Click the DN button until you get a vertical speed of -500 feet per minute indicated.
    • make sure there is a "-"sign in front!
  3. You also must tell George to do the turns during that "Procedure Turn":
    • just set the red bug in the "Heading indicator" to the needed heading
    • then push "HDG" on the autopilot
    • and for the next turns just move the "red bug" to the new heading!
Note: If you’re using the autopilot to descend, it will just push the nose down, like a bad pilot, so the airplane will speed up. We want to go down, but we don’t want to speed up, so we need to reduce the engine RPMs to keep the speed at 110 knots. Later, when you level off at 3300 feet, you’ll have to increase power again.
Without George:

If you’re flying manually, then you just need to adjust the engine power to get the descent rate of descent you want — the plane should stay magically at the speed you have trimmed it for! e.g. a reduction by ~200 RPM will give you a descent of ~500 fpm, ref. part "First Solo" chapter "Cruise". When at that wanted 3300 ft
» we just increase the RPM again to what it was before and continue with the same speed
» or we just retrim and continue with a reduced speed!
I personally prefer to reduce the speed already at this moment - that gives me more time to have a well trimmed plane prior to final approach!

The ILS Landing

While descending, we need to start considering how we’re going to intercept the 255° on the way back and follow it down to the runway. You might think we’re going to use the NDB like we did on the outbound leg, but at this point, the NDB is not good enough. This will be an ILS landing, a so-called “precision” landing, and an NDB is just not precise enough! It can get us close to the runway, but not close enough under IFR-conditions.

So, we’re going to switch over to our ILS system. That is much more accurate horizontally. And in addition it offers vertical guidance, something which the NDB does not give at all. And hey, it also gives you something else to learn in our few remaining minutes, so that you don’t get bored! (If you did not yet study the "VOR/ILS" chapter in "RNAV", you might want to do that now!)

By now we do not need the SJC radial 009° any more - so we switch our NAV1 to the ILS, see above IAP:

If you look at the "NAV-1 display" while setting the above localizer, you should notice:
Looking at the IAP you should have noticed that the last leg of that U-Turn (210°) is considerable shorter than the opposite 030° was! So now we will not wait for 2 min, but watch the CDI/localizer needle: As soon as it starts to move to the center we turn to intercept that 255° ILS-localizer back to the airfield - now really for landing!

And remember and check: We wanted to be on an altitude of 3300 ft at that intersection! (Otherwise the other traffic, now on that famous outbound heading 075° from REIGA, may hit us front to front!)

As said at the start: You should also do the following at least once WITHOUT AUTOPILOT, so that you can enjoy the full pleasure of an IFR-approach!!
But for the first try we will describe it as when using the Autopilot!

In case you continue using the autopilot
(and missing all the fun!), you should be aware of one additional button on the AP:
APR:  For tracking the "Localizer" use the "APR" button instead of the "NAV" that we used for tracking a Radial. That "APR" will track both: the localizer and the glide-slope. But push that APR-button only when you are close to the localizer and ready to intercept!

Intercepting the Localizer

We’re now ready to intercept the ILS localizer. Relatively soon after having turned to the last leg of the "Procedure Turn" (the 210° heading) the vertical (localizer) needle on the ILS will begin to move. And it will move fast, much faster than the ADF and/or VOR needles did. A localizer is 4 times as sensitive as a VOR, so relatively small movements of the aircraft make big changes in the needles. You’ll probably overshoot, but don’t worry, because we still have around 5 to 10 minutes to go, so we will get things straightened out before touch-down.

Just remember: don’t chase the needles. That mantra is now more important than ever. Those needles are sensitive — if you just turn left when the localizer needle is to the left and right when it’s to the right, you’ll be flying like a drunken sailor. If you’re lucky, the runway will be passing underneath you as you swing across the track for the umpteenth time. Luck, though, is something we should not be relying on. Determine on how the needles are moving before making your move.

Now that you’re heading back inbound at 255° , slow to 75 knots, drop a notch of flaps, and descend to 2800 feet (but no lower). And check for the inbound passage of FOOTO to confirm your position. And pat your head and rub your stomach.

Intercepting the Glide Slope

As we fly drunkenly towards the runway, cursing localizers and needles and resolving never, ever to fly in such crappy conditions ever again, don’t forget to look at the horizontal needle: The glide-slope needle.
So what’s a good rate for the descent? That depends on our ground-speed. In our case, we’re going at 75 knots (there’s almost no wind, so our airspeed and ground-speed are the same), and it turns out that we need to descend at around 400 feet per minute:
So now you’ll have to adjust things if you see the glide-slope needle start to move up or down. And like always: DON’T CHASE THE NEEDLE! Watch how it’s moving, then make small adjustments, watch what happens - and then decide if further actions are needed or not.
Since we’re now on final approach, you might want to drop a second notch of flaps. This will affect your trim, and you’ll have to adjust power a bit as well.

Soon after we intercept the glide slope, we should pass over the outer marker (our friend REIGA again, now in it's other job) , and several things will happen more or less simultaneously, all of which confirm your position:

On Final

After all the excitement of the procedure turn, it will seem like a long way down to the runway from the outer marker. There’s not much to do but stare at those needles. In fact, you’ll probably stare at them like you’ve never stared at them before (especially when the autopilot is OFF!). But do not forget to take a look around at the other gauges too, though - they have useful things to tell you:

Decision Height 597

Although ILS approaches can get us close to the runway, closer than VFR, NDB, or VOR approaches can, we still need some visibility to land, so we need a way to decide if landing is possible or not. That’s what the landing minimums section in the green part in the procedure plate is for: In the category labeled “S-ILS 25R” (that’s us), you’ll see “597-½  200(200-½)”. This tells us that we can track the glide slope down to an altitude of 597 feet = 200 feet above the runway! Thus: If we cannot see the runway at that altitude, then we have to execute a missed approach. Thus 597 feet is our decision height (DH).

In addition to the altimeter, this particular approach also has another indication that we’re close — a middle marker (MM). This marker will sound — in this case, a dot dash series — and the yellow light labeled “M” (left above the Audio-Ctrl unit) will flash. Passage over the middle marker should coincide with reaching decision height. So, what if you can’t see the runway at decision height? As you might have expected:
 Just as you can’t land willy-nilly, you can’t just go around willy-nilly. There’s a Procedure for it:

The Missed Approach Procedure:
Parts of that procedure are shown in several places on the approach plate:
  • at the top, where it says “MISSED APPROACH”
  • in the plan view, where you can see a dashed, curved arrow coming off the end of the runway
  • and a dashed oval on the right
  • and a series of boxes below summarizing graphically what to do.
In our case, these all tell us to:
1. Climb straight ahead to 1100 feet
2. Make a climbing right turn to 3000 feet
3. Fly to REIGA (compare the frequency and Morse-code!) and be sure to be there on 3000 ft, remember: Incoming traffic is on 1039 ft at REIGA!
4. Fly outbound from REIGA at 062◦
5. Fly a holding pattern at the TRACY intersection

The holding pattern, as you might have guessed, is a place where you can “park” while sorting things out, and has its own set of procedures and techniques which we won’t go into here, because . . . (but have a look into the chapter "Procedure-Turns" in the part "KnowHow".)


In our ideal simulator world, you probably won’t have to execute a missed approach. Assuming you stayed on the glide slope, you should have popped out of the murk at 750 feet, a whole 153 feet above the decision height, and with a 1 mile visibility. The runway should have been in view soon after. With the runway in sight, you could turn wildly to get on course (it’s very hard to be lined up perfectly) and land “normally” (which for me involves a lot of bouncing around and cursing). Exit the runway, Park the plane, then stagger out of the cockpit and have a hamburger!

Congratulations: You did it! If you don't have to fly back yourself you might even have a drink!

We hope you liked that and exercise this flight many times, with - as well as without the autopilot (even more important!),!
And use it for refreshing your knowledge from time to time.

Enjoy it! again and again and ...


That was a lot of information in a short time, a rather brutal introduction to ILS flying. Hopefully, instead of turning you off, it has whetted your appetite for more, because there is more. Some of the major issues, I’ve ignored here, are:

If you want to learn more, try the following resources: