It was an overcast day, 1700ft ceilings but they were thin. I called an instructor friend and asked him to ride along as a safety pilot while I worked in a couple of approaches. One of the perks of working on the airport is the ability to grab a lunch hour to do some flying!
We took off and set up for a VOR approach at a neighboring airport. I shot that one with no trouble. Part of the training was for me to get some experience doing approaches with the newly installed Garmin 650.
After the VOR we headed back to our home airport, KMQY (Smyrna, TN) for the ILS 32. This is an approach I’ve shot many, many times. The twist this time was traffic. Due to some crossing traffic, Nashville approach held me high, very high. As I intercepted the localizer and noted my distance from the Outer Marker, I started becoming increasingly concerned with my altitude. I inquired from ATC that I was established and wanted to head down.
Nope. No doing.
So on we flew, in the sun above the overcast layer. About the time I went through the outer marker, ATC allowed me to descend and contact the tower.
So, I pulled the power back, dropped the flaps and boogied on down.
I was watching my altitude carefully, and glanced back at the GPS to check my ground track. And that was the critical mistake. (And there are a couple of others…:-)
I fixated on the altitude issue and, instead of watching my localizer needle, I was looking at the GPS. When we broke out of the clouds I was well right of course, which drew my attention to the localizer needle. It was almost fully deflected. <BLUSH>
I recovered and made the landing. But I learned a great lesson on distractions and fixation and how even on a familiar approach, it’s easy to fall into their traps!