If I ever had any question about the value of an instrument rating, it is gone now. Following is a quick report on my first solo IFR flight, on my way back from the Wings course at Boeing Field.
I was flying down to Arcata as a stop on the way to San Carlos. The cloud layers over the northwest began about 1000agl and reported tops were 20,000. The freezing level was reported between 9000 and 12000.
The ceilings over BFI were about 1200, and I was into it very quickly on departure. ATC was very cooperative as I climbed to my cruise alt of 7000 feet. At 7000, I was still in clouds, and the temp was 2-3C. I was keeping a close ice watch, and refused ATC’s request to climb to 9000 for some traffic.
By the time I got to ACV, the tops were just at 7000 so I was bouncing in and out of them. The ASOS at ACV was 2 1/2 mile visibility and ceilings 400-800, so I was good for a look at the ILS. The ride down the ILS was long, and at 400 I was still looking for anything. At 300 I was still looking. At 250 I was still looking, but needles were centered. At 200, I saw the rabbit, so I continued to 100. At 100, I just saw the ALS, and shortly afterwards the runway end lights. I landed on the centerline lights, and didn’t see much else! After I followed the taxiway stripe off the runway (couldn’t see the taxiway itself), I sat back and thought, “Now that was an instrument flight!”
Conditions cleared about 1/2 hour after landing, the flight onward was beautiful, the Bay Area was Severe Clear, and ATC vectored me for the approach directly over the Golden Gate Bridge at 4000’, then over my house and straight in to visual at San Carlos. What a day!