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IR to see the sun

The pros and cons of an Instrument Rating have been discussed at length. Seeing Peter’s video on the new video thread, I was just thinking about the emotional aspect of being able to see the sun whenever one pleases to (ignoring the fact that IFR dispatch rates aren’t 100% either and not always would you be able to out climb the clouds to see the sun) – as there is some truth in @Emmanuel’s statement “the sun always shines above the clouds”? Does this or did this constitute a factor for you?

Watching such videos of airplanes breaking through clouds, it makes me want to get “the ticket” – regardless of how much I preach that my VFR dispatch rate for the things that I do is absolutely okay.

Essen-Mülheim (EDLE), Düsseldorf (EDDL), Paderborn (EDLP), Mönchengladbach (EDLN), Germany

I love it in winter in that I see sun every time I fly. Versus 3 months of grey….

EGTK Oxford

In this time of the year, with poor visibility and low clouds, it sometimes take just a two minute climb to get on top and stay in sunshine and blue skies!

This was us in Luxembourg yesterday. Visibility 800m en BKN001:

10 minutes after departure:

Descending back into the clouds and finding your way to the runway is another “emotional aspect” of instrument flying.
I found it quite tough in the beginning. It gets darker when you get lower. But the moment you break out of clouds and see the runway in front of you is also magic

So if you want to get the ticket, I’d suggest to go for the full IR. It’s very rewarding…

An opportunity to see the sun when you are otherwise locked under grey clouds for weeks is priceless and one of the best mood raisers in existence.

LKBU (near Prague), Czech Republic

Yes. I find that effect really interesting. Last week I was in CZ and it was grey, rainy, foggy and cold all the time. Later fall feeling. Then i took off, climbed through that cloud layer – and the next moment it’s so bright i need the sunglasses, sunlight is flooding the cabin and I feel the warm sunshine on my face. That’s such a great experience, everytime I have it! When you’re down there you cannot even imagine that there is SUNSHINE 5000 feet above the ground, and then you’re up there and you feel like you’re in a different world altogether.

In the beginning, when I was still a VFR only pilot I would fly long distances on top of solid overcasts (if I knew I would be able to descent at my destination). While most other beginners would not dare to fly on-top I practiced that from day one, including all the well known emergency descent maneuvers (i even practiced them with an instructor in actual IMC). I would then fly in FL95 above an overcast and many times I had the idea I was in a spacecraft, flying above the white terrain of a planet far away from earth. Later I made up little science fiction stories which were clearly inspired by those flights … they must be on some hard disk, somewhere in the basement ;-)

Last Edited by Flyer59 at 21 Oct 13:31

Have the same experience, when on TOD you have to bite your tongue to say “ready for descent” instead of “ready for reentry”.. :)

ESG..., Sweden

Haha, have to remember that one and try it one day: “(Munich Radar)… Golf Yankee Oscar Romeo Charlie” … standing by for re-entry"… But probably someone has done that already ;-)

Last Edited by Flyer59 at 21 Oct 13:33

For a descent from FL95 i doubt they will be impressed. Might brighten up their day though if they by any chance posses a sense of humour…;)

ESG..., Sweden

When I was in the SF Bay Area, taking a flight into the sunshine was very much appreciated. Unfortunately (!) the Oakland Airport (KOAK) was not fogged in too often, except in the very early morning. I sometimes took off VMC at KOAK and flew to Sonoma or Napa County to practice approaches (6 approaches and one hold in the last 6 months to be current), and was VMC above the fog, diving down into it on final (non-precision dive&drive IIRC), never saw the runway, went around and back on top. That was a lot of fun!


One of the best things I managed to do when training PPLs was to take two student into actual IMC as part of the instrument flight training, and climb on top. The smile on their faces when they break out, and the rush they get from skimming the cloud tops is fantastic.

Only managed this twice, as solid overcasts with a base high enough, tops low enough, and a student in the right phase of training do not often coincide…

Both students went on to do an IMC rating (now IR(R)) as soon as it was sensible after getting their PPL.

[Sorry for giving the German participants in this forum a heart attack]

Last Edited by Cobalt at 21 Oct 14:08
Biggin Hill
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