IFR Diary, Day 13:  Friday, Sept 10

A Bump in the Road

     Today we flew two approaches at Oakland, one at Livermore and the
     VOR-A approach into Hayward. In between we did some air work
     including made-up DME arcs and made-up holding patterns. 

     Nothing remarkable happened. From the outcome of my few flights,
     even I feel as though I'm getting close to the check ride.  Don't
     get me wrong.  I am certainly still making mistakes, but I somehow
     manage to detect them early and to recover.  Happily, I haven't had
     a repeat incident of brain-lock.

     At the end of the day Charles remarked that I hadn't forgotten to
     set my timer for several days.  As I've described earlier, by far my
     most distressing habit was a failure to start the timer at the final
     approach fix.  I solved this problem with a combination of
     procedure, mnemonics, and mental behavior modification.

     First, I include the timer in all equipment checks.  As I physically
     set up the navaids and the radio, I include the timer in the
     checklist, thus promoting the lowly timer to full status as an
     important IFR instrument.  This helped a lot.

     Second, I set the marker beacons to high sensitivity.  This causes
     it to begin sounding a few seconds before I actually pass over the
     marker, reminding me to put my hand on the timer.

     Third, I use a mnemonic trick when there's an Outer Marker: the
     string of dashes is Morse code for a string of T's. 'T' for timer.
     Now whenever I hear an Outer Marker, it's  saying "Timer-Timer-
     Timer."  Finally, I impart a special significance to the final
     approach fix: psychologically, the entire focus my pre-approach mind-
     set is to reach and identify the Maltese Cross.  Arrival at the fix
     therefore becomes a meta-event that never fails to remind me to
     start the timer.

     When I check my e-mail this afternoon, my publisher has sent me all
     the remaining chapters of my book for author review.  The editor
     explains that the production schedule has been moved forward one
     week and that I must review and sign off on the entire book by
     Monday at noon.

     Bummer.  This means I will have to work the entire week-end, which I
     had planned to devote entirely to studying for my oral.  There's no
     way I'm going to leave the oral to chance.  I cancel the check

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