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Most pilots with instrument ratings would probably agree that when it comes to an uneventful passage through haze, gloom, or dark of night and back to Mother Earth, an ILS is a much better deal than a VOR approach. Given a choice between the somewhat more relaxed progression of a non-precision descent profile and the relatively more rapid cross-checking required to remain within the allotted confines of a precision approach path, when the chips (and the ceilings) are down, the precision approach is definitely the better of the two. Until there are many more GPS WAAS approaches besides the few now coming online, for a while yet at least, the odds are that if you have to get down through a layer of low clouds, the bases of which might be as low as 200 feet, you’ll be flying an ILS. (Of course, the PAR or precision approach radar that I wrote about last year also qualifies as a precision approach, but I’ll concentrate on the ILS here.) So what is it that makes an ILS so special?


The Human Factor and Airplanes

The way people work with machinery, or to say it better, the way machines work with people is a field of study called human factors. When we look at general aviation aircraft, few have a worse reputation for human factors incidents than the early Beech Bonanza models. This is because in an effort to make an airplane that was as beautiful to see as it was to fly, Walter Beech created the infamous "piano key" control panel.


The Heli Cross-Country, Part I: The Ground Below

I had my chart clipped to my left thigh, and as we passed over my first checkpoint (which was only three miles away from our home field), I started looking for my next one, coming up in about 15 miles -- well, it never came up...


The God's-Eye View

Since last July, my articles have been about Instrument Flight; the articles are filled with the 'nuts and bolts' of instrument flight -- procedures, facts, do's and don'ts, techniques, and regulations involved -- but there is more to flying IFR than all that.