The instrument written exam

As described in FAR 61.65, the FAA requires three categories of things to earn an instrument rating: you have to meet the experience requirements (which includes things like being proficient in English and convincing your instructor to sign you off), you have to pass the practical test, and you have to pass the written exam. I haven’t had much opportunity to fly with my instructor lately, so I’ve been focusing on studying for the written exam, which covers weather, IFR procedures, regulations, how to read IFR charts, and all sorts of other goodies.


The picture above shows a portion of the IFR low chart surrounding David Wayne Hooks Airport in Houston. Yes, the FAA really expects you to know what all that stuff means! Every little symbol and text block has its own particular meaning: minimum en-route altitudes, crossing restrictions, distances, and lots of other things are all encoded into the symbology, and there is a completely different visual language used for diagramming instrument approaches. That’s a shorthand way of saying that there’s a lot of bookwork required to be ready for the test. I’ve been using the Sporty’s IFR course, which is pretty good, along with their test-prep app. I’m re-reading Taylor’s Instrument Flying and working my way through a couple of other books I have. Finally, I am considering taking one of the weekend accelerated ground schools offered by companies such as Aviation Seminars and Rick Yandle, but that requires at least one full weekend of time, plus several hundred dollars— money and time I could be using to fly instead.

Now, time to hit the books again…

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