Proficiency: Needle Work – FLYING THE VFR ILS

Sure, we fixed-wing pilots know how to land in visual conditions. Three degrees or so, look at the whole runway, pick your spot, and go for it; maybe use less flaps in squirrely winds, appreciate VASIs and PAPIs, maybe use a little crab, and pay attention to ground effect. Sloppy landings infuriate CFIs, but “any landing you can walk away from is a good landing,” right? Maybe.

VFR pilots can practice following ILS guidance—provided they follow the rules for visual flying. The localizer and glideslope pointers become more sensitive closer to the runway. Illustration by Charles Floyd

VFR pilots can learn to fly more precise approaches and relate to their instrument cluster more effectively using an approach I call the VFR ILS. Besides that, this taste of instrument flying may motivate you to check further into instrument training and the rating itself.

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