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How to organize training for Instrument Rating

So I am in the last weeks for preparing for the written exam (which is: clicking through aviationExam…) and thereafter will start with the easy part – flying

Now with all this knowledge here around: how would you prepare for the lessons? I want to give my IRI the impression that I was organized

I’ve done already a lot of things. Prepared and flown IFR (right hand side) across Europe. Actual IMC time hand-flying. Observed different approaches on different airports. Did some of the radio communication. And had partial panel in IMC. So I know already quite some things about doing it. But doing it all myself is another story.

I want to learn as much as possible from the training, so I don’t want to waste time for things which just, well, waste time. This includes flight preparation, playing around with the instrumentation, and cockpit organisation upfront. This I can prepare alone.

What tools do you use and what do you think is most useful for IFR training? How do you organize charts? Times? Frequencies? Checklists?


I would say :

  • know your avionics by heart
  • train to fly as precisely as possible under the hood (like descending at X kts for Y ft/mn, smooth transition to level flight, ).
LFOU, France

If you have X-Plane and a good setup, fly approaches in the sim. Connect your iPad to the sim, get CloudAhoy (around $60, worth every cent) and analyze your ‘flights’ in it.

If you’re not doing it in your own airplane, get 100% familiar with the avionics. If it’s a training airplane, take a pano pic of the panel and bring it up on your monitor or even use it as screen saver.

172driver wrote:

If you have X-Plane and a good setup, fly approaches in the sim. Connect your iPad to the sim, get CloudAhoy (around $60, worth every cent) and analyze your ‘flights’ in it.

You could also “connect” the SkyDemon to the Xplane or FSX


Relax, listen carefully to your instructor. You can already fly, hopefully quite accurately.The main thing about IR (IMO) is planning ahead and keeping ahead of the aircraft. If you can always answer the question “what if?” you’ve no problem.


Go out and „erfliegen“ (fly to see) the pitch and power settings of your plane and note them down. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you need basic values to start with for all phases of flight and to which you can revert to.

100 kts / level/ pitch / power
100 kts / -500fpm / pitch / power

Flying IFR is very much about having the aircraft in the desired and stable state for the respective phase of flight, flying its self, rather than „hands on“ controlling it continuously. Energy management and understanding as well as anticipating the „energy state“ of the aircraft.

Especially for basic IFR (which is essentially just learning to fly by instruments) forget avionics, charts, iPads etc… it’s just too big a distraction. Once the plane flies itself the way you want it to, you have enough resources for avionics and iPads.

always learning
LO__, Austria

Yesss, pitch & power was on my list but I forgot it. Good idea, thanks!

@172driver About the sim, don’t bother, I have plenty of sim hours IFR with online ATC and Skydemon connected. Maybe not recently, but I got the idea. It’s a Great resource, because you happen to file actually validated flight plans only for “online simming”, and this is some good preparation for real world flight planning.


Whatever you’re currently doing (tracking some radial, flying to a fix, outbound on a hold, etc.), always think about and verbalize what comes next. E.g. “FIXO in 5 miles, then heading 123, 50 miles to NEXO”. In fact say everything out loud.

EHRD, Netherlands

Short answer (to the original question): Don’t!

A good teacher first and foremost needs to know the “out of the box”-version of you. If you prepare to that flight 10 hours (or 1 – the instructor doesn’t know) he doesn’t get a good picture of what you can do easily and what not. If you train the approach you fly a dozen times in your home sim before you actually do the “training flight” the chance to see what you really need to improve on.

A good instructor will tell you / discuss with you after each flight what to do or not to do in preparation for the next flight.

You want to get as much as possible out of the training? Absolutely right! But you can only get this if you give the instructor the opportunity to be part of the entire training and not only of “the last 60 min of a 10 hr. preparation journey”.

Last Edited by Malibuflyer at 25 May 19:10

@Malibuflyer I understand your comment and will take it into account.

What I meant was rather how to prepare for the structured way of IFR flying and things that have to be improved anyway.

In fact those are questions anyone might (should) have before starting that training. Because most of us doing PPL-IR don’t have a lot of spare time for wasted lessons.

So the idea is not to prepare 10 hours for one lesson, but to concentrate on easy topics which don’t need instructor time.

Like…what type of clock or watch do you use? What chart organizer is good? Do you have certain spreadsheets for, say, ATC comm. or for often used topics like holdings or settings like pitch/power?

Last Edited by UdoR at 26 May 04:28
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