How useful is getting IFR rating after my PPL?
I have just started my PPL course at the Diamond Flyers in Lelystad, the Netherlands, but I already start to look at: what's next? The Diamond Flyers are developing a course on getting IFR ratings too, I personally think it's great to be able to fly by just looking at your instruments... not having to fly around any cloud, and even be able to fly when it's dark. OK, I know, there's also the "night VFR" which a quite easy to add to your PPL license, but that's not quite the same as an IFR rating! Now what have the experienced pilots to say about this? Does it make you a much safer pilot, as I expect? Or is it quite useless, to have an IFR rating as a "hobby pilot"? Please share ALL thoughts!
Timmo, you are thinking far ahead of your time at the PPL course. It was many flying hours after I finished all training and I was happy. But one day I got caught when my course headed me into a low bank of cloud. There were mountains below and I was scared. I managed to find a valley that helped me go low and eventually away from the cloud. Now, that was when I realised that IFR training would not be useless. If ever I encountered a cloud mass that worried me I could fly through it. Yes, hobby flying might seldom use IFR but it’s mighty handy when the unexpected pops up.
I would recommend you to get an IFR-rating, but not right after your skill test. In my opinion, you should gather some experience flying VFR, and thus making yourself comfortable with flying before you continue. It will most likely give you additional mental capacity to absorb all the extra knowledge required for the IFR-program, and will in turn make you a safer pilot.
I agree with Lars-Andre regarding not immediately jumping into IFR training, but....
I highly recommending giving yourself a gift of something called EMT - Emergency Maneuver Training. Sometimes it's called "Upset Recovery", but you'll find out what's available in your local area. Will really raise confidence levels as you "push the envelope" of flight.
It really depends on the type of flying that you like to do. Among the 'tubers, Stevo Kinevo loves IFR flying, while Trent Palmer hates it to the point of avoiding controlled airspace. He and other Flying Cowboys (who often fly together) will just land if they encounter IMC, call anyone they need to in terms of itinerary management, and both their aircraft and routing are designed for this. It's no way to run an airline (just ask TAT of the 1920s!!) but it's perfectly fine for recreational flying.
Where you fly can make a big difference, if you have a lot of fog or low clouds an IR can be very useful. You don't need to use IFR for every phase of flight sometimes it is nice to just get up and out and then fly over the top of low level weather. It is also a very big safety improvement because weather can change during a VFR flight and while still legally VMC maybe the combination of local factors can make navigation or approach difficult and you can use a nice guided instrument approach for assistance. (assuming you will still meet legal VFR weather minimums you don't even need to file IFR, just tune in the needed navigation and tell the tower you would like to do approach xyz under VFR)
I am in Tacoma and local weather is often IFR but 50 miles east weather is often VFR so an IR is needed to get too the good flying area. Also this area is dense with controlled airspace so talking to ATC and radar services are common anyway.