You are a Private Pilot and you have the plane booked for a flight with your family up to Niagara Falls. The trip will take about an hour and a half (versus a six hour car trip).
However, the day of the flight dawns with low cloud ceilings all throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The clouds are supposed to burn off early, but as the morning goes on, the clouds stay around. Seems like the forecast burn off at 10am is not going to happen. Since leaving too late will not allow you to spend the time at Niagara Falls that you wished, you have to cancel the trip. Too bad you didn’t start on getting that Instrument Rating you wanted. This trip would have been easy under IFR.
A natural progression for most Private Pilots is to next get an Instrument Rating. This will allow you to use the airplane more as weather will be less of a factor in making trips. It will teach you to fly and handle the airplane only by reference to the instruments. You will learn to think ‘ahead of the airplane’ and make you a more precise and all around better pilot. It will also make the airplane a more useful, reliable way to travel.
The instrument rating requirements are covered under FAR Part 61.65 and notes you need at least 40 hours of flying ‘under the hood’ (looking only at the instruments). The instruction part is minimized so that part of your time can be gained by flying with a ‘safety pilot’ who could be a friend who has a Private license.
To get the rating, you will have to be proficient in
- Radio Communication
- Electronic Navigation (GPS and VOR/Localizer)
- Instrument Chart and Approach Plate reading
- Instrument Approaches (Precision and Non-Precision)
- Weather Analysis
- Flight Planning
There is a written test, just like you took for the Private Pilot composed of 60 questions. And just like with the Private Pilot Knowledge Test you also need to achieve a 70% on it to pass. And just like with the Private Pilot rating, your check ride will have both an Oral and Flight portion.
Now weather should not be as big of a ‘show stopper’ taking that next trip to Niagara Falls.