GATTS day 1: holds and approaches

My first real day of GATTS started bright and early Tuesday morning. I met Peter at the GATTS classroom facility, which is in a nice office park adjacent to a sports bar and some medical offices. When you walk in, here’s what you see:


Sadly, that wasn’t the simulator that Peter and I were scheduled to use, but more on that later. We adjourned to a small classroom and proceeded to dive into that day’s classroom curriculum. Because GATTS requires its students to pass the written exam before they show up, this was more a review of practical issues surrounding the topics we covered than a tabula rasa introduction. The GATTS class is structured in a fairly standard triad: first you discuss a topic with the instructor, then you do it in the simulator, then you do it in the airplane. These three things may take place on the same day, or they may not. I picked up a few tricks for holds, including what they teach as the “GATTS entry”. Instead of worrying about parallel vs teardrop vs direct, they preach a simpler rule: if you’re coming from the “long” side of the hold, go direct, and if you’re not, fly to the fix, fly 1nm past it, then turn 45 degrees opposite the turn direction for 2nm, then start your procedure turn. For example, let’s say you’re going to fly the published hold at DCU:

The DCU VOR 274 degree hold is that little racetrack-looking thing

The DCU VOR 274 degree hold is that little racetrack-looking thing

If you’re west of the Decatur VOR, just fly until you intercept it; that’s easy. If you’re east, fly to it, fly past it, then turn from 274 degrees to 219 degrees, fly for 2nm, and then do your standard-rate procedure turn– you’ll magically end up about 3nm from the VOR on a heading of 94 degrees. (Try it if you don’t believe me). I was always taught to fly timed legs in a hold, so doing it with DME distance was quite a revelation, and it’s much easierI flew that hold a few times in the simulator, along with a couple of other ones, then we reviewed and flew a few simulated approaches. About the simulator: Flight Simulator 2000 on an ancient Dell running Windows 95. Yep, old school. It shares the common PCATD simulator trait of being super sensitive in the roll axis, so you fly it like you do an A320: put in the amount of roll you want, then take it back out again. Neutralizing the controls in a turn does, basically, nothing; you have to apply an equal amount of opposite aileron to get where you want.

Anyway, I did a decent job in the simulator (flying a total of 4 approaches for 3.3 hours), so we headed out to the airport to go do some bidness. We flew approaches at Abilene (the VOR-DME A), Herington (the GPS 17), and Manhattan (the GPS runway 21, if I remember right) approaches, netting a total of 1.9 PIC hours for the 4 approaches. Sadly I only got 0.1 actual on this outing, but I did learn a great deal about how to coax the ancient KLN94 in the airplane into doing what I want.

The mental effort of learning all this stuff took its toll in the evening; after we put the plane to bed, I went to the grocery store, loaded up on food, then went back to the apartment and did absolutely nothing productive for the rest of the night. It took a while for all that learning to sink in, I guess!

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