Tried the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center this year. Somehow I missed it last year. Anyway, I arrived at OSH thinking, "Gee, I need two more approaches before the end of the month to stay current. How am I going to do that?" And there it was! Fortunately, I dropped by just before closing on Monday to learn everything I needed to know beforehand. This includes the information needed to get a pre-brief the night before. The advantage of that -- other than the obvious bit about coming prepared -- is that you get to do more during your sim time. You are only supposed to get 30 minutes in the sim with an instructor. According to the scenarios, each IFR approach scenario takes 20 minutes, so you really only have time for one approach and a 10 minute familiarization scenario. BUT…if you log in the night before and brief the scenario on-line, you get 10 minutes credit. Therefore, each IFR approach flown only counts as ten minutes. This allows you to get two approaches in during those 30 minutes. Woo hoo! :-D

I was there bright and early the next day and got scheduled in the first group that morning. There were some technical issues with the sim, which in the end meant I spent about an hour at the controls in and around fixes. But I got it done. I had a great CFII: Larry James.

Is it just like flying a real approach? No. It is an FTD, not a Level D Simulator. Nonetheless it practices all of the fundamentals, understanding the approach and briefing the approach to the CFII; getting ATC clearance; following ATC instructions (you actually call another station acting as ATC for all 14 Redbird sims); etc. Instrument scan -- even more important since the FTD does NOT fly exactly like the real plane -- managing systems, and even reacting to unforeseen events. As it turns out, one of the tech difficulties was that the yoke module was unresponsive. Therefore, when I was hurtling down the runway, there was no elevator and I had to abort. The tech staff said that since I had gotten a takeoff clearance I really should have let the tower know I had aborted and gone through the emergency procedures (not in that order.) Good point! After the flight you can either go to the Redbird tent and download your flight or do it online later (which is what I did.)

All of this AND you get CFII review of your performance (and a logbook endorsement!) This is a great opportunity. Who of us couldn't use a half hour of instruction/review -- especially when it is free?

(No, I am not getting any money -- of even free sim time -- for posting this.)