IFS in a Nutshell

Here is a quick overview of everything IFS.

Academic stuff:

8+ hours of academics everyday followed by studying for the big A110 test. There are three tests that determine your fate at IFS.

The A110- This is an overall academic test. Required score to pass was an 85%, if you get below that you have to test again. Below 85% a second time and you are gone. I got a 100% on that one.

The G111- This is your pre-solo exam. You cannot solo if you do not get above an 85% and all rules apply that applied to the A110 as far as passing. Even if you miss one question they counsel you on why you missed it. Made a 100% on this one as well. It is very similar to the A110 test.

The Emergency Procedure Test- This is a list of questions pertaining to emergency procedure and local flying procedures. Some flights get to take it “open book” and some don’t all depends on your flight commander. I got a 100% on that one too.

I’d say the most stressful part of IFS is when you are having to study for these academic tests and planning for flights. If you don’t have a lot of flying time (like me) the flying aspect is pretty overwhelming at first. You have to find a balance between studying for tests, preparing for flights, and still finding enough time for sleep. Pulling an all nighter and then flying is probably the worst thing you can do.

Flying Stuff:

Here are my flying blocks broken down with a quick explanation of each.

C101- Dollar Ride, meaning a “free ride” where the instructor does all of the flying and teaches you. My dollar ride was by far my worst ride. My instuctor did not see it as a free ride and expected a lot out of me and it made me feel like this whole flying thing was not for me.

200 Block (C201, C202, C203)- This is the “learning” stage. I had the same instructor during the 200 block as on my dollar ride. He expected me to know everything the first time we flew. He barely passed me to move on to the 300 block. I was pretty stressed during this stage because I had no experience and he wanted me to be perfect. This block is when I started thinking I was going to get screened. He never taught only critiqued and used adjectives like “gross” to describe my flying. Luckily they can’t really fail you in this block. But I feel like I had a lot of wasted flight time in this block because my IP was not a teacher.

300 Block (C301, C302, C303, C304, C305, C306)- This block is where a majority of the screening happens at IFS. The 300 block started with an IP change, which pretty much changed my life. I got to fly the first 4 flights with my new IP. He never got mad at me once. He would see where I was struggling and would help me. He taught me so much. He was a really cool guy. This is where all the stress melted away, for a bit. He complimented my flying and would say I am making great progress. He couldn’t see any reason why I would get screened. 305 and 306 I switched back to my original IP….Like I said I had learned a lot in those first four flights so I was able to show my original IP that I can actually fly, when taught. 305 and 306 were stressful for me because I didn’t know how I would be graded. I was graded harder than 301-304, but I still got a “Good” on every flight and was passed on to the next block.

501/502 “Solo” Block- This is counted as three flights, two of which are graded. The flight out to an Auxiliary field with your IP is your 501 and it is graded just as normal except you don’t do any maneuvers, just a departure and straight and level flight with some radio calls. Then you land about 4 times to prove to your IP that you can land without killing yourself. The 502 is  your official Solo. You get to fly on your own in the pattern and land the plane a few times. Flying solo is absolutely amazing. Being the only one in the cockpit is awesome. Your instructor is always watching you like a hawk at IFS, so it is nice to get him out of the damn plane. The flight back is the third flight. You are not allowed to fly, you get a free ride back to Pueblo…pretty nice.

Pre-Check/Check- These are the last two flight at IFS. Your pre-check is just a flight to get you familiar with the exact profile and maneuvers you will perform while on your check-ride. My pre-check was great and pretty low threat. I knew a lot of other guys who got yelled at a lot during their pre-check. I think they do this just to put pressure on you. Then there was the check-ride. It wasn’t too bad. The IP is completely silent and just watches you the entire time. I like it when my IP doesn’t speak. This weirds some students out, but I prefer them quiet. My only problem is that I am a pretty quiet guy and I feel ridiculously stupid when calling out every button I am pressing and vocalizing every movement in the aircraft. So at the end of the flight he asked me if I forgot to do this, that and the other. He said I performed my maneuvers and checklists so quickly he never really knew what I was doing or had done. Internally I said “it’s a freaking check-ride, pay attention!” but to him I told him I am not that outspoken and I did complete the checklists he had in question, and he took my word for it.

Flying overview. Not terribly hard flying. I think your performance has a lot to do with your IP, especially if you have ZERO flying hours. I know some guys who had a lot of trouble at IFS because they had zero hours and got stuck with the IPs that have no interest in teaching a newbie.

Atmosphere: 

IFS is not a terrible place…at first. It has a cafeteria with great food, an awesome gym, and the rooms are pretty nice. However, over time you get really tired of being stuck in the compound. Towards the end I felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. I got so close to finishing and then had a few weather days, and I was SOO ready to leave.

The IPs aren’t mean to you except for certain ones when you are in the cockpit. Definitely not a field training type atmosphere, which is kind of what I was expecting. The only time IFS really sucked was during formal release. I won’t get into the details of formal release, but pretty much you have to be in the flight room for a full 12 hours before you get released then you can do what you want.

I studied a lot at IFS and looking back I probably studied a little too much. I thought the general knowledge questions for my check-ride were going to be way harder than they actually were…

The weekends were fun because we would go to Colorado Springs or something and focus 0% on IFS until about mid-day on Sunday.

That’s pretty much it.

IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND GOING TO IFS SOON AND HAVE ANY QUESTIONS JUST POST IT TO COMMENTS AND I’LL ANSWER WHATEVER YOU GOT.

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