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...Checkride #7; ...Checkride
#8; ....Checkride #9; ...Checkride #10; ... ...Checkride
#11; ...Checkride #12; ....Checkride #13; ...Checkride
#14; ...Checkride #15; ...Checkride #16; Checkride
#17; ...Lessons Learned from My Checkride;
When people told me that it was a day I would not soon forget, I believed them. However, for me, it was the few days before the checkride, making sure all the endorsements were correct, that I had all my paperwork and logged hours, that made me crazy at the beginning of the week.
As ominous day of the checkride approached, my nervousness, stress level and studying intensified. By the weekend, I was in such a frenzied state, I had resigned myself to believing that I was most assuredly going to fail, that I was not qualified and will never master the amount of information I needed to learn in time for the checkride. Of course everyone around me was saying "You'll do fine" and "it will be a breeze" etc.
While I appreciated the words of encouragement, I was not convinced that I was even going to pass the oral, much less the practical part of the checkride. One piece of advice a fellow pilot gave me stuck in my head. "Make sure you get there early and get a few tenths in, it will loosen you up and get you in the right mind space," he told me.
My checkride was at 1pm on a Monday, so I decided to take a half day at work and head down to the airport at noon. After fighting with lunch hour traffic I arrived at 12:15pm, just enough time to jump in the 172, do some takeoffs and landings and head out on the first couple legs of my cross country that I had never practiced before.
After some real rough short and soft field practice, I headed southwest towards my first checkpoint, a nice sized lake, somewhere about 10 miles on the 199 radial to the Westminster, MD VOR. As I turned midfield across the airport, I saw about three bodies of water ahead of me. In a panic, I grabbed the sectional. "WHAT THE...," I thought to myself as I looked at the sectional that only listed one body of water, my checkpoint.
I flew about 10 miles until I was over what looked to be the largest body of water 10 miles out and took a mental survey. On the way back to the airport, I decided I was just going to ask one of the line personnel at the FBO what the bodies of water were, and which was the one I had specified on my cross country, it was now 12:55pm.
I ran into the FBO after I landed and began frantically asking anyone I saw about this specific body of water and they all began to argue about what the one on the sectional was! The final consensus was that the one I took the mental snapshots of, was indeed my checkpoint and that I should be fine on the checkride. I thanked the gentlemen and line personnel and went upstairs into the office to wait for the DE.
About 30 seconds later, one of the gentlemen that was most positive about the body of water on the sectional came into the room (which is also used as a pilot lounge) and sat across from me at the table. I said "hello" and then he asked what my name was. I told him. He then told me, "hello Ben, I am Dale, your DE." At this point I was ready to pack up my things and just leave. This was not going well at all.
I frantically tried to explain why I was so confused about the lake but Dale just sat there smiling. He finally said, "it's okay, no big deal, can I have your logbook for a bit please?" I then passed him my log book which I had totaled up in all the columns and signed every page, which made him very happy because all he had to do is match my numbers and he could be fairly certain he was correct on all of the requirements.
Dale then grabbed his monstrosity of a FAA examiner's binder and asked me if I was ready. I was ready to get on with the interrogation. He began by asking me about the FARs and what I could do as a private pilot and then moved on to weather, systems, airspace, airport procedures and equipment (what are the color of the end lights on the far side of the runway when you are positioned for takeoff?) Think about it awhile, answer at end of story]). We then covered the cross country, airspaces, symbols and procedures on the route. No big deal really. After every oral question, except for a few, I gave the standard FAA response, written in the ASA study guide (little blue book [get this, it is invaluable for the last week or so of your studying]). After it was all over, he said "very good, I hope your flying is as good as your oral was, let's go fly." Heck, I thought I had blew it.
We then headed out to the plane... the plane.. where was it? Did someone steal my checkride plane? I ran over to the schedule, no one listed but me, it has to be here, I just parked it an hour and a half ago, right out front. Dale told me he had to use the restroom, so I ran around the tarmac looking for the plane. No Cessna 172 to be found. In a panic, I called one of the line guys over and asked where it went. "Oh, the door lock fell out last night and I just took it to the shop to be replaced." I very calmly and slowly said, "I am in the middle of my checkride, could you please BRING THE $#&#$$#%# PLANE BACK!?!?!?" I think they lineman understood my urgency and the plane quickly reappeared where I parked it.
Luckily, the DE saw none of this, he came out of the FBO and I was waiting for him right by the plane, welcoming him on-board and doing my preflight out loud, with the aircraft checklist in hand, I also added some of my own things that I thought should be checked, IE: door hinge pins, seat rails, anything else that I can get to that has had an AD out about it. As I was completing the last item on the list, he asked me with a chuckle, "ready to kick the tires and light the fires?" I indicated affirmative and we loaded in.
I gave him the pamphlet from Dauntless software that has a nicely formatted passenger flight safely information and told him to ask me if he has any questions about the flight. I also instructed him on the operation of the seat belts and when they are to be worn. He appeared bored, so I stepped up the pace a bit. I started the engine, turned up the avionics and called UNICOM to check the radios and tuned in ATIS. We then taxied into the runup area, did the runup and he asked me to do a normal takeoff with a soft-field touch and go, then a short field landing touch and go, then depart for the x-ctry.
I greased the soft field, came in a little too hot on the short, and departed on my XC a little far crosswind (I had planned on coming back over the airport, but there were three other people over flying the airport at my planned altitude so I asked the DE if I could intercept the VOR radial a little further out, and not start right from the center of the airport. He agreed and that went well. We made it to my first checkpoint right on the time I had planned and he asked where my second checkpoint was. I told him, Westminster, MD, about 20 miles out. He nodded and went back to watching me. I thought to myself, damn, we're going to fly the whole thing,(York, PA -> Winchester, VA -> Manassas, VA(into the class B)). However, as soon as we were clear of Codorus Lake, my first checkpoint, he said, "okay, lets do some maneuvers."
I did all of my required maneuvers within spec, not a big deal, he even pulled the engine on my twice and told me to stop fiddling with the checklist since the engine died so low to the ground, there is little time for checklists (we were 1000 AGL on the last simulated engine failure). He was right, by the time I went through that checklist manually, I would have already been a part of the scenery. So I did as he suggested and do what I had memorized. He smiled and said "good job." He then asked for my "view limiting device." Uh, oh. They were back in the locked closet at the FBO and no one had a key that morning, oops! I told him why I didn't have them and he said "no problem, I'll test you like we used to." He then asked for my sectional and began covering up the whole windshield with it(except for a little spot on his side that he was peeking around.) It was pretty neat and it made me fly very carefully. G.W. Item: It is contrary to the FARs to cover any part of a windshield while in flight.
I made a few mistakes in my maneuvers, and I caught myself outside the limits a few times, but quickly correcting it, hoping he didn't see it, so I was not sure if I had passed or not. He was constantly writing, looking, writing, looking. Then, after about an hour he turns to me and says, "take me back to the airport." I then asked him, "are we going back because you are finished, or is it because _I_ am finished?" He turns to me and says, "just take us back, and when we are on the ground I will tell you how you have done." Well, being the pessimist that I am, I assumed that all bad news is better delivered when people are not driving or flying and are sitting down. Thus, using this theory, I thought that I had surely failed.
I found the airport and landed (after he told me to do a normal
landing) and went through the shutdown checklist. After everything
was off, and the windows were open (it was at least 120F with
100% humidity inside the cabin at this point) he turns to me
and says "you don't think you did well?" I said, "it
was not the best flying I have done, actually it was some of
the worst." He then looks down at his papers and grins and
says, "you did excellent, congratulations pilot."
I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, faint, or just sit there with the biggest Cheshire grin on my face that man has ever seen. So I did them all at the same time. He got out of the plane and said he was off to do some paperwork and that I should meet him back in the FBO. I remember tying the plane down and walking on cloud the whole way back into the FBO. No one was there except the CSR, but she congratulated me. I walked into the pilot lounge and he handed me my temporary license and explained the expiration on it. I was still on cloud nine, so relieved that I had passed and it was over.
I also felt quite cold and couldn't imagine why until I looked down and realized that my light blue shirt was now dark blue, I had sweat a river! I didn't weigh myself afterwards but I bet I lost a few pounds! There was the intro flight, then 48.5 Hours later....
I'm the astonished owner of my very own temporary airman certificate. Actually, not that astonished. But terribly relieved. It was my second try, and I was afraid that I'd repeat my prior performance. I took my first checkride last week, on Friday. All went well, up to but not including unusual attitudes. Actually, the recoveries went well. But the time after the recovery became interesting.
In the first example of unusual attitude (after flying under the hood for a while), the DE futzed with the AI. He actually gave me the plane in straight & level, but with the AI indicating a climb. I looked at the speed, did nothing. I looked at the TC, did nothing. I looked at the AI, and pitched down. I did eventually recover. But it apparently left me a bit unsettled. I'd practiced partial panel before, but never as a surprise. That's a mistake. All subsequent unusual attitude recoveries followed the same pattern. I'd recover properly, doubt the instruments, and do something silly. The something silly would put me into my own "unusual attitude" (usually banked left and nose down). I'd then recover (albeit it now a little lower) and repeat.
So the DE gave me a pink slip, and told me to practice under the hood. So I did. I did a lot of partial panel, including a fair bit with the AI uncovered but wrong. [It's too bad we cannot selectively disable more instruments like that. Covered is very different from wrong, I've learned.]
Today, even with a bit of a bounce in the air, I did much better. One bit of advice that the CFI with whom I was practicing gave me was exceptionally useful: once stable, pick a heading and altitude and *stay there*. It seems obvious, but I guess it wasn't so to me before I'd heard it. For some reason, I was treating hood time differently than "normal flying".
I also spent a little reading time on the primary and secondary
instruments during different maneuvers. I think of it as a head
start on my instrument training, as it was from an instrument
Other random points from the first ride:
I was diverted in a way that might have crossed a class D. But I was 200' above the ceiling at the time I was diverted, so I just stayed there. I even crossed over the destination field at altitude, just to get a look at it before entering the pattern. I didn't go very far before the diversion: perhaps just two checkpoints. I did expect to go further, but I did have my location and course nailed. I guess he could tell. On one landing, I was just entering the flare when he said "go around". One of the mains even touched for a moment.
I'd actually forgotten about the test part, and I was afraid that something was wrong. I spent a few moments during the climb looking for the problem I'd missed, before I realized that this was just a normal part of the test. There's nothing else that stands out as interesting, so I'll stop right here. But for people getting ready for their own checkrides, I'd emphasis the "wrong vs. covered" of unusual attitudes (and hood time in general), and the element of surprise.
On Dec 1 I got to put those famous initials behind my name PP-ASEL..and it was a thrill I fly out of BMG and the DE was down at BFR I got to the airport at 7am. I had my flight plan done and now was watching the weather This would be my sixth attempt. We had light winds...10,000 ft ceiling but snow moving in. I decide to go ahead and take the chance. Off the ground at 8 and on the ground at Bedford by 20 after. Met the DE in his office.and it started
First he wanted to see my paper work..all in order
--Then the check..LOL...it was good too.
--Then the log books on the plane.
--He wanted to see the 100 hours and the last annual and then asked if they are the same. --He ask more about aircraft maintenance
--Then I blew my first question..what color is the brake fluid. I got this blank look and told him..I have no Idea! He laughed and said Red. I knew the rest of his answers on maintenance.
--Then he went into rights and privilege of the PP..
--A couple of questions about the AF/D.
--Then onto the sectional...
--What airspace do you need clearance to fly into..
--Where do you need a mode C..what are your clearances..do you have a ceiling limitation..can you do this or that..He spent much more time on the sectional than anything else.
--Then on to the flight plan I had done. no problems..
--Had to show him how I got the wind correction angle..
--He asked me about my fuel numbers and I think I made a few points. POH say 8.6 gals per hour at cruise..and I use 10 for a margin of error. when he saw this he seem very pleased.
--Then figure take-off and landing distances. and again I think he was happy.. I showed him the book figure and then told him I would add 50% to it to be "real".
--We went over the weather charts and prog charts..read a few metars then he said..we are going flying I went out to the plane..checked the fuel..walked around and off we went.
He didn't want a preflight briefing. And he did something funny, it is 25-degrees out side..cold as could be..the heat in the plane is not the best you know..and he took his coat off and put it in back..this will make sense in a minute..LOL
I took off and hit my course for my cross country. We couldn't
climb up to cruise attitude because the ceiling had dropped.
I fly on my course..get the plane set up .......and missed my
first check point.I told him that I had..and why I thought I
had...told him that I would make the second check point in another
8 minutes...he said fly to it and we would see. and low and behold...7
minutes after our little conversation..there it was...right where
it was suppose to be..ok..turn 180 and put on the foggles..steady
flight ..climbs and descent..turns to a course...whoop..he said
we just lost the DG...now make turns to a heading..all went well..and
said close your eyes..we are going spiraling..LOL.
The DE took the controls and jerking around we went..When he said the plane was mine we where in a very deep nose down spiral...throttle out..wings level..and pull out...WOW..he asked why I leveled the wings before pulling out and I told him about increase load factors in a turn...he said good..Then he starts thrashing around to put his coat on. I understand now. Little bit of diversion.I ignore him..to much..you will see in a sec. now lets go stall...power off power on..no problems...steep turn..no problems..ground ref..no problems..lets go land..normal landing on 13 at BFR...ok..call for traffic..enter on the 45...do my gumps check..and don't catch that he didn't put his seat belt on after putting on his coat..he puts in on while I am on base...I think uh oh..that is a bust..but we go ahead and do our landings..I am high on my short field..go around and he pulls the motor..ask for a quick decision..best field is to the right about 40 degrees from our course..he is happy again..didn't try to make it back to the runway..hit my short field right on the numbers..hit the brakes..and he says take it back to the hangar. I figure missing the first check point and missing the seatbelt as earned me a trip back. We taxi up to the hangar and he asks how I did. I started reeling off everything I thought I had done wrong......and he agreed......then said we are not looking for perfection ..we are looking for safe pilot who make good decisions..and you are one..you PASS.
What is hard is making someone who hasn't done this understand what a proud moment that is...I have done many things in my life.I have passed many tests..I have gotten rewards for being one of the best at what I do for a living..but it just doesn't compare to getting those words...it almost reaches the feelings I had when my children came into this world
So now I am a private pilot with all the responsibilities and privileges due...and I make my first big decision on the way home.I get BMG weather..2500 ft ceilings..4 mile visibility..so I decide to fly back..on the way I hit a snow storm..do a 180 and back I go to make some phone calls..LOL.I tell them to come get me...weather is to bad..between the airports it is more like 1000 ft ceilings and 2 miles visibility.So I am setting in the lobby of the airport and in comes the DE...I told him what was going on and damned if he didn't get a big smile on his face..shake my hand..and told me how happy he was that I made that decision..I think that made his day......and I know it made mine..My instructor brings down a instrument rated friend and off we go..back home..and me showing this piece of paper to anyone that will look..and to a lot that don't..LOL>...
So now as soon as the weather breaks up here I am off..and am starting my instrument rating this spring..have to repair the .check book you know..Again..thanks to all in this newsgroup that has been a help and for all the support...
Its me again! I'm a private pilot now though!!!!!! After days of worrying it all came to an end around 10am cst.The day before After practicing one last time last night I was a nervous wreak. I flew safe but it was the worst flying I've done in a long time. So I came home and started to feel sick and had a high temp, oh great, after getting over being sick I'm gonna have to cancel it because I'm sick again, so I laid down and took a nap at 6:30. I woke up at 10 and felt a lot better but couldn't go back to sleep until after midnight because I was worrying so much.
The morning of...
Then I woke up around 4:30 having a nightmare (yes about not passing my checkride) so I laid there until it was time to get up at 5am. After getting up and taking a shower I ate a bowl of cereal and headed for the airport. I got there about 10 minutes before the flight instructor said he would be there so I sat and waited. Finally after waiting for 20 minutes he showed-up, his car wouldn't start. I went in and started working on my flight plan and when I was finished I had about 10 minutes left before he got there. This is when I started freaking out! I tried to go over everything one last time and was just a big mess. Then I saw him walking up the sidewalk! After meeting him he seemed pretty nice. (Note: At one point in the PTS history a pilot was allowed only 30 minutes to do all the planning required for cross-country planning .)
him "Can I please see your application?"
him "I can't start until I have your application"
So I run to find the instructor and he said he forgot so he printed it out. Here I am racing to fill it out and get back in there asap. After returning he fills out some papers and then its time to get started. He starts by asking me to explain how I planned the flight. Then we go over a few things on the sectional. After he asked what I needed for class c airspace and the weather mins for our flight. Then he asks what we need in the plane and what happens if we have a pink registration. I had no idea so he explained. Then he asked what happened if I was stuck at an airport with a grounded mag, once again I wasn't positive on the answer but had a general idea. After than he asked me to do the weight and balance and then asked me to explain what things could increase takeoff distance. After that he says the tas it and explains what we will be doing on the flight. After a brief potty break and after getting over the thought of how much I over studied for this we went out to the plane. At this time I was pretty sure I would walk away a private pilot.
The flying part
He let me preflight by myself while he was talking to another guy, I figured he would be watching over me. The plane was ready to go so we hoped in and started up. He asked for a short field takeoff on runway 18. I haven't used 18 in several weeks because of the wind. Off we went and then we headed towards our destination. After showing him I knew exactly where we were at all times he pulled the engine and asked me to make a grass strip. I made it but it could have been a better forced landing. (didn't actually land)
Then we went back to 2,000ft agl and he asked me to divert to Shelbyville and give him an estimated heading. After that he wanted me to tune into the VOR and fly there, I was off by about 5 degrees. He wanted a short field landing so I did it, it was a little bumpy but we stopped in plenty of time. Then we did a soft field takeoff and landing which went good, he asked why I wasnt tracking the centerline on the runway though when on final, my answer was because of the road beside it, and nervous so he said ok.
After that we went up to 2,500ft and he told me to do slow
flight, I asked to go up to 3,000 to be safe so he said ok. Then
I went into slow flight and did some turns and he told me to
do a power off stall. After explaining to him I needed to do
a clearing turn (which he wasn't too concerned about, I thought
it was a trick) I did a power off stall and then a power on stall.
Then he asked me to put on the hood and fly a heading and descend
to 2,000ft. A few minutes later I was allowed to take it off
and we were on a 45 downwind entry for runway 18 at MBT. He said
he wanted a normal landing so no problem. Then there was a Citation
beside/behind us so he said to make it close and fast. I landed
and made the first taxi way, not the best landing but safe. Then
the worst part, parking the dang plane but I did it and he got
out and told me he would be inside filling out the paper work.
Then I asked him "Did I get it?" and he said "yes!".
Meanwhile my boss was watching and video taping me. I got out
and tied it down and it was over.
Before I went inside I talked to my boss for a few minutes and then went in and was handed my temp certificate. I asked how I did and he told me everything was safe, I just needed time to improve. Damn I had a smile on my face then! Then my instructor congratulated me and took my picture. He also said he wished he would have taken a before and after picture because I was pale as a ghost before! So far my instructor has a 100% pass rate still and I was his #2 checkride. Then I called my dad and told him the good news and went out to talk to my boss. I stood out there talking to him and admiring the Citation for about a half-hour. Then I went back in and talked to my instructor about renting and IFR. After that I went home!
What I learned
Listen to other people, I freaked out over something I should have laughed at.
You can do anything you set your mind to.
How easy the test really was.
Not to stress things.
That I'm rambling right now.....
This morning I got a call from the DE, Terry, asking me to meet him at the Brookings airport at 9 a.m. I drove up there since the plane was already there. I had flown there yesterday and done the oral, but the weather had gotten too poor for us to fly or for me to fly home.
I got there and greeted Terry. He told me he had considered calling me back yesterday evening, but he figured I had gone home and settled in, so he'd let me rest up and we'd fly today, if the weather stayed nice. He told me to do a preflight, I asked if he'd gotten the keys from Lee, another CFI who kept them yesterday when I was picked up and brought home. Terry didn't have them, but just then the A&P from my own FBO arrived and told me to call Lee's cell phone. I got Lee and he gave me the combination to the club hangar where the Tomahawk's keys were. I got them and started preflighting.
Terry put his things in the plane and wandered off to talk to another pilot while I did the preflight. He was nearby but didn't watch me or quiz me during the preflight. Once I was done we got in the plane together. He told me I 'd made a nice short field takeoff yesterday (we'd gone around the pattern once to check the weather) but we wouldn't discuss the landing, which was supposed to be short field too. I said I was grateful because it wasn't very good. Terry said it was a fine normal landing. He was very easy going and funny. He made me comfortable right away. I explained that I wasn't too comfortable in Brookings and tended to be high because of the surrounding terrain (hills, trees, deep canyons on either end of the runway, which effectively stretches between two cliffs on a mesa of land). He said I could make a soft-field takeoff and we'd head for Crescent City. He asked me to have my chart ready for a diversion. And he warned me that since we'd be flying on my familiar grounds, he'd have high expectations for my performance takeoffs and landings. I felt pretty good. A pep talk last night from my CFI had helped my mindset, and he'd given me some visualization exercises to do (visualizing the performance takeoffs and landings I was so worried about)
I knew that on yesterday's short flight I had badly over-controlled the airplane, so for the last 15 minutes of the drive to the airport, I did a relaxation exercise (promise not to laugh) I love to sing in the car, and Bette Midler and I have a similar range, so I put The Rose on the CD player and sang to it over and over. It is a calm, gentle song, and it put me in a very mellow mood.
We lifted off Brookings with a decent, not good, soft field takeoff. I identified and tuned in the VOR for Crescent City, then explained to Terry that I was not going to track directly to the VOR from here because it would take us out over the Pacific quite a ways, and I wasn't going to take the Tomahawk that far off shore. Terry agreed and said I could follow the coastline. After a few minutes he asked me to get out my chart and tell him where we were.
It was easy, we were over Harbor, a small town I was quite familiar with. Terry noted the fact that this was all familiar to me and that he wished he could see how I did using pilotage up near Portland where he is from. I admitted that I had gotten lost on my cross country to a towered airport and didn't realize that VOR frequencies had 2 digits after the decimal point so I dialed in 112.05 rather than 112.50 so I couldn't track the VOR. I explained that I had really used pilotage then to get me to Medford. I think Terry appreciated my frankness and honesty. I think I had also made a lot of points yesterday refusing to go on with the checkride due to the weather, then having someone come and pick me up.
Next, Terry had me divert to Gasquet (Ward). I had to give him a heading and time to get there. I gave him the direct heading, then explained that we'd go through a pass in the hill to get there, so I'd not fly that heading. Then I miscalculated the time putting the distance on the inner dial of the E6B and reading the time on the outer dial. As soon as I said it I knew I was wrong (25 minutes to fly 15 nautical miles at 90 knots per minute) I made the correction and he accepted it. At this point I had made several small mistakes, but corrected them quickly and Terry had been very helpful and instructive during the portions that I needed help or redirection on. I was still feeling and getting the impression from Terry that I still had a shot at it.
We were setting up for the stalls when a friend of mine announced intentions to take off and head our way at our altitude. I made a radio call to let him know I was in the same area maneuvering at his intended altitude. Jon asked if I was done or if I was still working. I told him I was working hard. Terry laughed and Jon said he'd fly up the beach and at a lower altitude to give us room to work. Terry laughed again and said that the local pilots all seemed to know me. I laughed to and said that they were cheating for me. Terry told me he appreciated the camaraderie developed at a small airfield.
We did a power-on stall, he allowed that I could announce an imminent stall. I did and recovered at the point of mushiness in the controls. Next was a power-off stall. This time he asked me to wait for buffeting, which I did. Whenever he felt I was forgetting something (whether I was missing something or I was doing things in a different order) or when I'd start to lose my heading or altitude, he'd point it out and say, " you are supposed to maintain 2,500" or "do you need the flaps?"
On to slow flight. He asked me at what speed I'd been practicing, and he allowed me to use it rather than 1.2 Vso. It was uneventful. Then on to Crescent City to do a short field landing. He asked me to pull off the power for a simulated emergency engine out. I did, really liking that he had me pull power, rather than reach over and pull it himself. I went through the checklist quickly, having visualized it frequently the last few weeks. We were lined up for a nice emergency landing site and he asked me to slip to get us down to it. I did. at about 500' he said to go around. So I climbed back to pattern altitude and headed for Crescent City again. I checked AWOS for the weather, set up for an crosswind GW??entry into the pattern. That set up puts us on long final for a second runway and he asked if that was what I was going to do. I explained that for the runway I was going to use, a 45 degree entry would put us too far out over the ocean. I made my announcements, flew the pattern and gave him my stopping point for the short field landing while on downwind. It looked just fine and he had me go around at about 30 or 50 feet. We went around and did a soft field landing. It was passable, barely. The mains touched down a little more firmly than I'd have liked, but I kept the nosewheel off.
We took off again and went back to the practice area for some work under the hood. I got stabilized and he took the plane while I put on my hood. We spent just a few minutes under the hood doing climbing and descending turns. Terry asked me if I had done any unusual attitudes and how did I feel about them. I told him that I had done a few, but my tummy didn't like them much. I told him I was willing to give it a try and I warn him before things got ugly. He put me into a climbing turn and I got the nose down and the power on full, but was having trouble leveling the wings. Terry just said gently, "get the wings level too." I finally got it under control and he had me remove the hood. He explained that he was going to have me fly under the hood back to Brookings, but we needed to do some ground reference maneuvers. I started looking for a point to do turns around at his request when a perfect little pump-house appeared off my left wing. He asked me where we enter turns around a point from. I told him from downwind and told him where that would be. I then pointed out the pump-house and he said go ahead and start now. Once around and he told me to take him back to Brookings. I looked over and he was smiling. I grinned and said, "is that it?" Terry told me that I had good control of the plane and we could go back now. I flew back to Brookings as we chatted. I entered the pattern and managed to make my best landing at Brookings yet. Terry congratulated me and filled out my temporary pilot certificate. I flew home on a cloud of happiness and called the folks to come take a ride with me. I got congratulations from nearly everyone I saw
WOW..what a day!
Started out early in the morning with me on the internet getting all the weather and briefing info..and printing it out and putting it into the folder which held all my other papers for the grueling oral.
Got to the flight school and was ready to go when the DE got there. Everything was going fine until he checked my log book and saw that NONE of my PP info was signed off. I was shocked because my instructor and I went over everything with a fine tooth comb and I thought everything was completed. My instructor was not in today...so we had to get him on the phone and he rushed over to sign it. WHEWWWWWWWW
Oral I thought was pretty straight-forward and to the point. Some of the situational questions required applying the knowledge not just spitting out the answers. I was extremely well prepared for the oral and had been doing all sorts of work to try and predict questions, etc. and I was surprised at how much I learned when it was over. After answering a question the DE would go further and expand on things he had seen and what his experience had taught him. I think I learned more in this 3 hour oral than I have in any 10 hour flying or ground lesson. My examiner was very detailed in wanting answers and after I answered them he was like a fountain of aeronautical knowledge. Honestly, I know the FAA examiners are good, but this guy was sharp as a tack and didn't mind filling you in on his knowledge.
So far so good.
Next the practical flying. Everything went pretty well, but I got distracted by his conversation, missed my checkpoint, and trying oh so hard to maintain altitude & computations in the air that I missed ATC calling an airplane who was in contact with them at our 12o'clock and 1 mile ahead. I never saw the guy and the examiner said..."do you see any traffic?" Taking his hint I finally found it, but it had long since passed us going from left to right. The examiner said that ATC called the other plane to alert him of us, and that I missed it. I thought "Damn....now I blew it" Luckily he had seen me scanning and tipping the wings constantly and only told me to be more diligent on looking for forward traffic and they are very hard to see right on the horizon.
We went through all of the other stuff...diversions, hood work, stalls while turning, etc and did all of without much trouble at all. Went to a small airport and did the short and soft field work. First short was lousy so I decided to go around. He seemed impressed that I knew I was off and aborted the landing. The second short was better...but not by much. I had everything going great and was nice and slow when for some reason I got nervous that maybe we were going a little too slow and added some power and pitched the nose down a tad to increase airspeed. We floated a lot more than we should have, but I was still well within my landing point. He asked me why I added
power and I couldn't give him an answer, but he said...your still within the regs. Soft field was really good..and actually that should have been my short field..I had it stopped right away with no float. He chuckled and said..."Except for keeping the nose high, you should have made that one your short field. "
We finished up and tracked a VOR home...no prob. Final landing was a no flap slip to landing...aced it with just a little side drift, but got back on centerline right away.
Well now I am official..now I just gotta figure out where to go..ha ha ha OOOOOO HOOOOOOOO time for a beer.
Scott Thompson, PP-ASEL (that looks so cool!) out of SSF
Ok, here goes. I hope this is interesting. :)
Checkride was scheduled for 10 am. I have been flying a 152, and me, the DE, and full fuel would put us over gross, so I showed up early in the am, about 7:30 to fly in the pattern for a while, do some touch an go's and use up some fuel.
DE shows up at the FBO and we begin the oral. He is very laid back and the oral goes much better than I thought. He asked some systems questions, some FAR questions, fuel types, minimum equipment, transponder checks, about 3 questions on weather minimums, showed some pictures on taxiway signs and asked what each meant. I was surprised at how easy it was. I was really stressing but I suppose making a 94 on the written did help. He did sorda stump me on how to tell the difference in jet and 100ll. I said jet has no smell, and I was wrong. But he explained it to me, and was satisfied. He looked over my flight plan, inquired about my headings and the wind, and I told him that half way through the winds changed so I picked this other heading. He asked what that was called and I replied interpolation. He showed some disappointment that he didn't get me. He looked very briefly in the aircraft logs, but did not go into detail about them. I told him the tach had been replaced so the next annual is due at 68 hours on the tach, since there was another tach in there since the last annual. I suppose that knowledge showed him I had read the logs and knew what I was talking about. I used the blue ASA private pilot oral guide to study. Helped a lot. I recommend it for anybody getting ready for their checkride. The oral was overall Very easy. He also said he liked it when people come to him who have studied. He said it makes his job much easier. I liked hearing that. So off we went to fly.
Was going to go up to 4500, but there were scattered clouds not far up. I called departure and asked to hold at 2500. A few minutes after the first checkpoint, he had me call departure so we could divert. He asked me what heading would take us to another field in the area. I told him 350, and he said to turn to that heading. I did so, and he asked me if I was sure about the heading. Which I was not. I said not really, that it could be 340 or 345. He asked me how I could be sure several times, to which I finally took the hint and pulled out the sectional. After looking at it and where I was I said yes, 345 would get us there. He still questioned me and asked if I was sure. He asked how I could really be sure. To this I finally got the hint and pulled out the plotter and confirmed 345 would get us there. He said what you do in the air should be no different than what you do on the ground. He said always use your plotter and line up the compass to get your heading even in the air. Lesson learned.
So in the practice area we first did steep turns. He was sorda irritated that I did my clearing turns as a 180, and then another 180 back. He said lifting up the wing was fine with him, and is what he prefers. I did the rest of my clearing that way, but only to please him.
Going forward I feel safer doing a much broader search of the area. I nailed the steep turns and he seemed pleased. After that we did slow flight. Turned a 360 degree turn in slow flight, and then did one power off stall. We did one emergency engine out procedure, and then we did ground reference maneuvers. We did about 3 s turns, and one turn around a point. We began heading back to the home field, and I put on the hood. We did a few ascents and descents. Did not do unusual attitudes. Called tower, did regular landing which sucked, ( He even mentioned it could've been better, which scared me, I thought I could've failed on that landing) a short field takeoff, a short field landing, soft field takeoff, soft landing, and then taxied back. It was VERY, VERY short, and I am surprised how easy it was. total hobbes was 1.4
We did not do any uncontrolled field ops, no unusual attitudes, no power on stalls. The other things we did, we only did once, and moved on. I guess I was used to my instructors pounding me with the maneuvers. One steep turn after another. Stall after stall, etc etc.
Back in the FBO he pulls out his temp airman cert pad, and writes it up. He said I did a good job. I was thrilled. Took my wife up as my first passenger today. We had a good time, and I am going in the pattern this work to work on my landings some more. I am still not happy with them.
THANKS to everybody in this newsgroup who have posted, replied and put their .02 in. Jim Fisher , Bob Gardner, Gene Whitt, Stephen Ames, Al Gilson, Roy Smith, thanks to all of you, and to others, however, the ones mentioned above stand out. Not sure why I was drawn to their responses. Could be the years of experience, the newness of some of them, or just the way they approached and replied to questions. Anyway, thanks again!!!
I hope to begin doing some real cross country's and yes, instrument is on the horizon. Way out on the horizon...
Rob Alford, PP-ASEL 54 hours
Checkride scheduled for 9 AM, 50 miles from my home airport, at an old Air Force base right next to a Class D and almost under the veil of a Class C airport. Got to my little uncontrolled field out in the country about 0745 to preflight and meet my instructor, who looked at the sky and asked me what the weather looked like where I was headed. Ceiling was about 4200 AGL, briefers said 10 miles vis. under the ceiling. Waited a little as the sun came up and burned off the haze, then flew up for the checkride. Wind is 11 kts right down the runway, but they have a right pattern on one runway, left on the other. Since I've only flown about 4 RP's, of course the wind favors that runway, just to keep things interesting. I land, hook up with the instructor, and we start the oral.
Checks log books, makes me get out the sectional so he can check distances on my X-ctry legs, then says all that is in order. How do we know our airplane is airworthy? Showed AROW documents, logbooks with annual stamps, and transponder cert (which I got updated two days before). Lots of questions on airspace and svfr, weather minimums. Went over flight plan for the X-ctry, talked about panel mount GPS in our plane, said I could use it after I demonstrated pilotage and computed GS in the air. Then said I WOULD have to demonstrate use of the GPS, since he believed in testing you on everything in the airplane. Told me to go preflight when I got ready, he'd be on the ramp watching, and not to explain anything unless he asked.
Pre-flight, had to add air to the tires (got out POH to check correct pressures, they were only about 4 lbs low, but he wanted them aired up). Got in, first thing he did was put one foot under rudder pedals, the other one over them. Went over free controls in briefing, then proceeded to brief on seatbelts, door, emergency procedures, etc, til he got tired of it and said "Consider me briefed". Taxied out, did run up, and started with a short field t/o. No problem on an 8000 X 150 runway. Flew 1st two legs of X-ctry, computed GS with E6B, then he took the plane and gave me the foggles.
Under the hood, straight and level, level turns, climbing turns, descending turns, now close your eyes. Gave it back to me with full up trim, impending stall, no problem. Close 'em again, this time a graveyard spiral to the right. Then one to the left. And just for grins, he then did one to the right, pulled it out and up til we got negative G's and I came up out of the seat, then a spiral to the left. Cool.
Slow flight, down to 55 kts. Turns in slow flight, made the last one a clearing turn, then back to cruise, 100 kts, for steep turns. 1 to the left, 1/2 to the right and he said roll out. Simulated fire, emergency landing in a field. Simulated loss of oil pressure, another emergency landing. Picked a close field, did a slip down to about 200 AGL. Stalls were next, power-on right turning, then power-off left turning. Then we did turns around a point, and he says to turn on the GPS, take me direct back to airport.
Back at the airport, did a short field landing, then a soft field takeoff. About 30 feet up, he pulls the power. Land straight ahead, then go back for a regular takeoff. He then wants a short field landing, no flaps. Start setting up, and he pulls the power. Misjudged it, and would have been about 100 feet short of the runway. Well, the ground is always nice and smooth just before the threshold, isn't it? Added a burst of power, then pulled it back off, landed and stopped. (Remolval of flaps would have extended the glide. G. W.) He then took the plane, had me make the radio calls, and took us around the pattern. He showed me a short field landing, dragging it into the runway low and slow, lots of power, full flaps, kill power over the threshold, nose it down, then haul back on the yoke. Set it down firmly, grabbed the hand brake and hauled her to a stop.
I didn't know what was next, til he looked over at me and said "I'll make a deal with you. If you can get us back to the ramp without bending anything, I'll make you a private pilot". That was the most careful taxi I have ever done.
Flew back home, was met by my family. My wife and 5-year old son then jumped in the plane for a little sight-seeing trip. It was a little bumpy, so we didn't stay up but about 1/2 hour, but it was great.
PP-ASEL (For one whole week now)
I took the checkride on Monday the 16th at Burlington Intl. airport in Burlington, Vermont (BTV). The ride was a terrific experience, thanks to my CFI having prepared me well, and thanks to the examiner being such a great guy with tons of experience. Even the weather was perfect! What a great way to cap off a year and a half of training and studying! Anyway, here's a hopefully not-too-long narrative of the checkride:
The appointment was at 10 AM. The examiner wanted me to plan a cross country from BTV to PLB Plattsburgh, NY) to TEB (Teterboro, NJ), so I'd been working on that the evening before. It was a pretty good X/C with lots of different airspace, and some other challenges. I got the winds and the current forecasts in the morning at around 6.30AM and made my wind corrections. I went out to the airport at 8 to pre-preflight the aircraft and to check on some things in the maintenance logs. Turns out the airplane had been sprayed with deicing fluid, so I made sure to wipe the goo off the windows.
The examiner arrived at 10am and I felt at ease right away. I'd been told that he was an airline captain and had lots of experience, but I found out that he's been with TWA for 30 years, flying everything up to and including the 747. Before that, he had 10 years of other commercial flying experience. All that experience could have been pretty intimidating, but he was very low key and friendly, and we got along great.
The oral lasted for about 2 1/2 hours total, but it felt more like a conversation than a test. Sure, he definitely asked me some tough questions and we covered all the PTS points about the regs, airspace, X/C planning, night flying, weather, etc., But it was a very enjoyable experience since he told me stories and gave me advice based on his experience throughout the oral. To top it off, he wrote all his rules of thumb and other tidbits on pieces of paper that I got to keep!
Before I knew it, it was time to go flying. We did a normal takeoff from BTV, which is class C, and headed over Lake Champlain to Plattsburgh. Once there, we entered the pattern and did a normal touch and go (there was some crosswind), followed by a short field stop-and-go, followed by a forward slip to landing. The DE told me that he likes to see the slip carried through into the flare. Once he explained it to me, it made sense. Basically, his argument is that if you're carrying a slip, it's like you're coasting down a hill in a car riding the brakes. Now, in the car scenario, you wouldn't let go of the brakes until you're on flat ground again. Same thing with the slip. If you take it out before the roundout, you're going to build up speed before the flare and float. By carrying the slip through the roundout, you don't build up any extra speed and just straighten out in the flare. I followed the prescription and it worked out great. After the slip landing, we flew the pattern again and did a soft-field touch and go.
I was feeling pretty good at this point. The landings had worked out really well, and he'd given me some positive feedback about them. Just having an experienced airline captain in the airplane with me was a treat. To have him tell me he liked my landings felt awesome! Hey, I can do this!
Climbing out of Plattsburgh, the hood came on and he gave me some vectors to follow, and told me to dial in the Plattsburgh VOR and track the 90 radial outbound. Once we got up high enough we did unusual attitudes, constant speed climbs and descents, etc. After the hood had come off, I did steep turns followed by slow flight. In slow flight, we did 30 degree banking turns, climbing and descending turns, with and without flaps. We then went straight into the stall series, with a balked landing stall and a departure stall. I can't remember if we did turning stalls or not, but we might have. It's all a little bit of a blur.
He pulled the power and pointed out a field to me. As I was circling over the field, he gave me some pointers on how he judges his height over the field and how he likes to adjust his pattern. He circles over the field until he's close to 1000' AGL abeam the beginning of the field. He keeps the flaps up and judges his descent by picking a point midfield and basically keeping it at a constant angle by widening out the 180 turn to final. Once you're on final, you'll be lined up to land midfield with no flaps, so if there's a wind that you haven't corrected for, you'll still have some cushion altitude-wise. If not, you just start bringing in the flaps. This was again great advice, since I always tend to be too high on the engine-out landings. This time, I was definitely in the ballpark and was able to make the beginning of the field without having to do S-turns or any other monkey business on final. He didn't tell me to go around until I was almost on the ground, which was pretty exciting. It also made the go-around more realistic since there were some trees at the other end of the field.
I won't bore you with the ground reference maneuvers. After those were done, we headed back to Burlington for a normal landing. I must have been getting too cocky at this point, since I somehow managed to bounce the landing.( *%#^$#!) It wasn't too bad, and I salvaged it, but still it was not the kind of ending I wanted to my checkride.
Nevertheless, once we'd parked the airplane, the examiner reached over and shook my hand to congratulate me on becoming a private pilot! The relief and joy I felt almost made me fall out of my seat!
When I got home from the airport, my wife (who must have had more confidence in me that I did) welcomed me with a chilled bottle champagne. Nothing ever tasted this good!
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my CFI, everyone I've flown with during my training, the examiner, and last but not least everyone on this newsgroup. I've learned so much from everyone's postings here during my training, and I'll definitely stick around here as I go on to my instrument training!
Kristian Ljungkvist, PP-ASEL (Yeah!!!)
Apologies for not providing this earlier, it sounds like lots of folks in my area are going up in the very near future. Steve Benedict is a busy man! In any case, here tis, from Feb 8.
I was very nervous about the checkride. For me it represented the culmination of a childhood dream that had ended abruptly when I was in my early teens due to family issues, and it took me 20 years to overcome enough roadblocks in my life to be able to pursue it again. In any case, I didn't sleep much the night before---in fact, I got up and rechecked weather several times, and revised all my ded reckoning at least twice. I wasn't really worried about it, but the anxiety kept me from sleeping. Apparently this happens to a lot of folks. If I had it to do over again I would seriously try to get as much sleep as possible, and eat a hearty, protein-filled breakfast. All I had to eat that morning was coffee and a banana, and I think by the time I was doing stalls at 4 in the afternoon my blood sugar was nearly gone.
The meat of the story:
I had been worried about the wind, as the day before my instructor and I were actually blown sideways off the runway at Sonoma Skypark while practicing short and soft field work. I had just touched the mains for a stunning (if I do say) soft field landing, and suddenly we were 50 feet sideways and about 30 feet up. I immediately initiated a go-around and hollered "wup, I didn't do that!" and Roger said "me neither!" The weather was kind of mixed, so I was half expecting to have to defer the flying portion of the exam for a week or so. Luckily the wind was much calmer by morning, so we were on.
Also, the day before the test I made sure to get all of the plane's current weight and balance info, and found out where the logbooks showed all the current things like avionics and prop inspections. I had to bring the logs with me, and I wanted to know where everything was.
Steve called me about 6pm the night before and had me plan a trip from Santa Rosa to Bakersfield, and gave me his weight info. I planned the trip to within an inch of its life, working around the SFO class B, alternate landing sites, the whole nine yards. I calculated how much fuel I would burn on the way to pick him up at STS from Petaluma, and it was a good thing, too, as it brought us back under gross (this was a C152).
I woke up at 8am (much earlier than normal) and checked weather again and wrote down every word the guy said. Recalculated all of the planned times and headings with the new wind info. My wife and 3-yr-old dropped me off at the field in Petaluma around 11:15am, for a 12pm appointment in Santa Rosa. I checked out the plane and grabbed the logbooks, and asked the chief CFO to take a look to make sure all of my endorsements were correct. My instructor had signed the written exam paperwork to say that he had taught me about the questions I had missed, but it turned out what he really needed to do was to add a sentence to his endorsement in my logbook; the place to sign on the exam report itself is only if you flunk the test and need to retake it. Roger wasn't around, however, so I left him a note to call my cell phone and headed for STS.
I was on the 45 entering downwind at STS (a class D airport) at pattern altitude when someone else called the tower and gave my approximate position. I got a little worried when his shadow crossed my windscreen. Realizing that a midair was probably not a good thing to happen on the way to one's checkride, I dropped down about 150 feet, turned on all my lights (like that would help at noon on a sunny day), and flew a close downwind trying to crane my neck to see who the heck it was. Turned out to be a North American (AT-6 or P-51?) who had me in sight the whole time, entered downwind at least 500 feet too high, and used this opportunity to pass. I ended up being #3 to land. If you're out there, sir, that particular maneuver was not appreciated.
I landed and found Manny's Aviation, where I was to meet Steve (HINT: don't taxi toward the tower, it's north of there tucked back in a corner), parked and went in, about 5 minutes late. Steve showed up about 45 minutes later (he had told me he might be a little late as well), and we drove back to his office. He got all the paperwork out of the way first, verifying my name and address, etc. About halfway through this, Roger called offering to fly up to sign anything I needed, and it turned out the slightly mistaken endorsement was no big deal.
For the oral portion, Steve mostly went through the PTS page by page asking me questions and telling me stories about his life and how he got into flying. This part of the test was really more anecdotal than anything else, though we did cover just about everything. He talked some about runway incursions and asked me how I avoid them, and spent some time talking about density altitude. We went over the airplane's logbooks, talked about my flight plan and particularly about the weather information I had gathered. He asked me what Vx and Vy were for my aircraft, and what I would use that information for.
I dislike the term "common sense", since so much of basic logic is sadly uncommon, but that's really how I would describe this. More than anything else, his emphasis was very strongly toward correlating different information and using it in a practical sense (hence the term "practical exam"). He was less concerned that I knew how much a gallon of avgas weighed, for example, than he was with knowing what I would do if I was over-gross at a high-density-altitude airport. I posted a while back that he asked me "if we went to Tahoe one bright morning and topped the tanks while we were there, what would we expect if we wanted to come back at three in the afternoon?" I told him that I'd have to calculate the density altitude, and why, and that I might have to either drain some fuel or leave him there. Luckily for me he has a sense of humor.
We covered everything in the PTS by about 2:45 or so and then headed back to the plane. He told me that I needed to (1) not scare him, (2) not do anything illegal, (3) not push the plane outside its operating limitations, and (4) do what he asked me to do. He also said that one thing that really bugs him is for people to do things wrong and then yammer about how they knew how to do it right; he said he didn't want excuses, he just wanted to see that if I was doing something wrong that I was working to make it right again. This turned out to be absolutely the case, and is probably why I passed, particularly with regard to landings (see below).
At that point the test got much quieter, as he needed to observe more than participate. I gave the plane an extremely thorough checkout, gave him my canned passenger briefing that I had half-snarfed from this group, started the plane and made my radio calls. He asked me not to talk too much, just to do everything that I was supposed to do, and he'd ask questions if he thought I was missing something. I followed the checklist religiously. I was getting more nervous at this point, partly due to not talking as much and partly because I felt more confident about what I knew than about how I actually flew.
Plus, the weather was starting to move in and the ceiling was coming down a bit, and as a result he had me divert on the ground (an easy one!) to Healdsburg, an airport exactly 10 miles away and sitting right on the compass rose for the STS VOR. We took off and went up to Healdsburg, entered the pattern and set up for a short-field landing. I had my airspeed too low and as a result turned too early for final, but somehow managed to bring it down right where I wanted it and dropped in right on the numbers, not quite hard enough to actually knock out our teeth, though my fillings were a little loose afterward.
We taxied back for a soft-field takeoff, made it around the pattern once again, and set up for a soft-field landing. He said "here's where you get to show me your finesse." Once again my airspeed was too low, and we ended up dropping in a little hard, whereupon he made a remark about my finesse that was funny at the time though I don't remember it now. Not an awful landing, and I remembered to keep the nose up, but I thought I was done for. He took the controls and used the rest of the runway to show me the attitude he would have liked to have seen, and described what he saw that I had done wrong, mostly airspeed too low. He didn't ask me to do it again, as he said he was satisfied that I was doing the right things to make it work, that the landing was perfectly safe if not pretty and that he hoped I would practice them in the future.
We did a perfect (if I do say so myself) short-field takeoff and he had me put the foggles on. He gave me vectors for 15 minutes or so, which I thought I did quite well, then some unusual attitudes, and then we took them off (we were over the ridge east of Cloverdale at this point) and did some steep turns and then some slow flight and stalls. I just couldn't get the plane to stall, I was treating it too gingerly; he took the controls and gave me a short lesson and reiterated what he expected, that it was very important that I was in complete control of the plane. This time I was able to stall it and recover to his satisfaction, and even pointed out some rather close traffic during the maneuver, which I think he appreciated.
We headed back after that. I was a little worried that we hadn't done some of the things I had been practicing, like turns around a point and whatnot, but he said he was satisfied with my pattern work and that I had shown I could compensate for wind with reference to the ground. He was very happy with my hood work and said he hoped I would go on to get an instrument rating, but that he hoped I would continue to practice slow flight and stalls as well as short and soft landings, because there are many folks who get their tickets and then just drive around and never practice any of the performance maneuvers. I think it was shortly after this that I pooched my final landing---he asked for a normal landing, and it had been so long since I had done one that I couldn't remember how to do it! I landed just past the numbers and set the nose down way too quickly, as for a short-field landing. He talked with me about the importance of keeping the nose up after all types of landings, and then we taxied back to Manny's and he wrote up my paperwork and said "Congratulations", and told me about the instrument course he teaches at Santa Rosa Jr College.
I flew back home to Petaluma with my paperwork, smiling all the way, and as I was entering the 45 I heard my instructor call 5 miles out. I keyed the mic and said "that you, Roger?" He responded with "who be that?" and I said "Private Pilot Jeffrey Osier-Mixon", and got a flurry congratulations over the radio. I made a nearly perfect landing in Petaluma and as I was tying down, my family came over and my 3-year-old hollered out, "Congratulations Daddy!"
The weather was mostly north still, so I grabbed the keys to one of the 172s and took my family up to watch the sunset. It was the finest 0.6 hours I ever spent in an airplane. I have spent several hours since then both driving around (we have been to Mendocino twice) and practicing slow flight and landings; I don't feel that my learning process has slowed down in the slightest.
Yesterday was my wife's birthday, so we flew up to Mendocino (poddy break) and then up the Lost Coast to Shelter Cove for a late lunch. She has begun to comment "Nice landing, Captain!" about my landings, so I know they have improved, thanks in great part to the advice I have gotten on this newsgroup. We had a quiet ride home with a low (3000) ceiling along the Mendocino coast, with my son asleep in the back, and we both looked at each other and talked about what an incredibly awesome privilege we have to be able to do this. I'm thankful for it all over again whenever I think about it.
Anyway, things to bring to the checkride:
aircraft logbooks and POH
all required signatures and endorsements
a complete application
all flight planning and w/b calculations
a written record of your weather briefing
current sectionals and A/FD, and TAC if required
some form of protein, and a bottle of water
a written passenger briefing
checklist for your plane
record of your written exam
I hope this helps ease some of the anxiety of others preparing for the exam. The short story really is that the prep work was tougher than the exam itself, but maybe that's because I spent so much energy preparing for it. Just remember to breathe, and keep your sense of confidence---you don't get to the exam without at least one other person feeling that you're ready for it. Get some sleep and eat a hearty breakfast, and everything will be fine.
Well, in the spirit of this group I will belatedly describe the checkride I took--and passed!! on April 14. Actually I have been so busy enjoying my new privileges that I have been too lazy to write it up...
The morning was a bit hazy but viz was adequate, and NO WIND!! Actually as you will see that may or may not have been a real advantage. I had already taken the oral almost a month earlier, but got delay after delay on the flying while waiting for the weather to clear. The DE called me the night before and told me to use the same cross country destination he had originally assigned, but to update the weather. He had me calculate weight and balance with 140 lbs of luggage but did not actually bring any. Since this exceeded the baggage area limit for the C172 we were flying, I calculated balance with all the weight in the back seat, or with half in the back seat and half in luggage, and showed him both. I photocopied the charts from the POH and highlighted all the relevant lines. The strategy was to be so disgustingly organized that he would go on to the good stuff quickly, and perhaps it worked. He was not particularly interested in watching me preflight and chatted about the weather as we taxied.
I fly out of El Monte in Southern California and we started and ended the test at my home field, which was great. I was assigned Henderson, NV as a destination. To cross the mountains I planned a cruising altitude of 9500 feet. The examiner told me that he wanted a short field takeoff, and that we would actually level out at 3500 feet. He wanted to modify the route to avoid Class C airspace near Ontario, so we would go slightly north of my original plan. He also mentioned that if he said nothing, that meant everything was OK. While taxiing, he also mentioned that his last examinee had failed, because he had not gone through a restart procedure on his emergency landing. With that fresh in mind, we did the run up, and took off with no problem.
The air was absolutely still and cool, and I got us right on course with no problem. While en route the DE kept fiddling with the com radio, listening to ATIS at every airport in the region. I am not sure if this was meant to be a distraction or not, since the fields were not near our route. He asked me to remind him what the date of our oral test had been, and remarked that at that time the FBO with which he was affiliated had never lost a plane, but that it now had--a rented C172 that went down off Malibu, maybe related to flight into IFR conditions--anyway, if he meant to make me nervous that did not really do it since I already knew about this.
Just short of our northern turn toward Nevada, he asked me to divert to Redlands, which is to the east. I located the field on the sectional and calculated heading, distance, time and fuel. En route I identified several other airports as checkpoints, and when I pointed out Redlands to him, we went on to the next phase. He had me put on foggles and we did about 6 or 7 minutes of instrument flying which was uneventful. He then took the plane and tried to disorient me by doing several up and down roller coaster maneuvers (that were hard on the stomach with the foggles on!) following which he put me in an unusual attitude; nose high, slow and banked to the right. The recovery was easy; my CFI had done much harder ones, though without the ride beforehand. Then the foggles came off, and he asked for a steep turn, which he allowed me to do in either direction, and only required once. He said I could assume that he had cleared for me, unless I wanted to do it myself. I took him at his word and did a steep 360 to the right, and did well, even though that was one that has been tough for me.
Next we went directly to slow flight, which has always been one of my best maneuvers. Here I nearly lost it; I gained about 150 feet while transitioning. He asked me if I recognized a problem and I said yes, I had gained altitude and that it was outside of the PTS. He said that he could fail me for that and I said yes, I know. He asked me what had happened, since my steep turn had been perfect, and I said that I was not sure, but that I thought that the combination of maneuvering under the hood followed by the steep turns and the transition in rapid succession had made me slightly queasy, and that I had gotten behind the plane. He said, "Well, do it again" and this time I did it flawlessly for him. Maybe he didn't want to wait another three weeks for another good day just to test that one maneuver, or maybe he was just in a good mood. Next we did a power-off stall.
Then we started back toward El Monte, and while over an unpopulated area he had me do S turns across a road and turns around a point. He actually did the clearing turns and set up the plane where he wanted to start the S-turns, and this would require the first turn to the right. I had been told that no tricks were involved in the test, but the PTS called for the first turn to the left; so I mentioned that. He said that he understood, but that I should go ahead as instructed and that would be fine. Then I did turns around a point, where he let me choose the point. No problem there. Next he pulled the power. I went through the checklist and procedures for emergency engine out but this part was a little embarrassing. I found straight flat dirt road as my landing area and began to set up for it. As we got lower I saw power lines along side it, and updated to another road a little farther away. The DE then asked, "Well, what about THAT?" and pointed out HIS side of the plane to a new freeway under construction, consisting of 20 miles of straight flat obstruction-free concrete. I had to admit that was a pretty good option. He remarked that I would have seen it while turning base for my original target, and could easily have made it there. He reminded me to be sure to look ALL around when choosing an emergency landing area. Point taken!
We flew back to El Monte where he wanted a short field landing. I had been practicing the previous two weeks in strong headwinds, which effectively caused the plane to virtually hover over the runway and made short fields a snap. On this day, however, there was NO wind, so my aiming point was too far down and I saw that I would miss. I went around, which he approved of. He mentioned that his most frequent reason for failing examinees was the short field landing--usually landing too short. "A little short, add a little power, a little long, add a lot of power," he said, and then we were back for another try. There was a lot of traffic in the pattern and the tower had me do S turns on final; I landed a little long, but within the designated limits, and we came to a full stop and taxied back for a soft field takeoff and landing. These both went OK. I have made softer soft field landings but it was decent enough. We taxied back to the FBO, he shook my hand, and it was over.
Wow! I took a week's vacation off from work, and I flew my wife to Santa Monica for dinner, to Santa Ynez for lunch in Solvang, and to Borrego Valley via Carlsbad, for an overnight stay at a resort in Borrego Springs. She seems to be enjoying it, but for me it really is an addiction--the more I fly, the more I want to fly again! However, I'll wait till fall before I start instrument training; one checkride a year is plenty for me.
Lessons learned from my checkride:
1) It probably helps to communicate with the examiner as you make your maneuvers, even if he says nothing; I had the feeling that when I was not perfect, my 'narrative' let him know what I 'thought' I was up to, especially on things like the stalls and special takeoffs and landings.
2) Be honest and don't disagree with the examiner. I feel sure that if I had argued about my problem with the altitude on the slow maneuvers, rather than acknowledging that I had made a mistake and recognized it as such, he would not have been so kind to me. I tried to be very polite when I asked about the S-turns to the right.
3) Practice your best maneuvers as well as your most challenging ones. I had the greatest problems on the test with slow flight and short field, normally my two easiest tasks! I was so happy to have just done a perfect steep turn that it probably contributed to my getting behind. I relaxed too much when the "hard part" was over. In flying, I suppose, there are easy maneuvers and hard maneuvers, but the checkride is testing you on ESSENTIAL maneuvers, all of which may be equally important for safe flight. Best of luck to everyone, and I hope this long-winded narrative is helpful.
Jeff Schweitzer, PP-ASEL
Just a few quick notes on my checkride Saturday. Since I benefitted from others' checkride stories, I thought I'd give back.
Some of you may remember the screw ups by my AME that caused my medical, which I obtained before ever starting flight training, to be revoked the day before my checkride was scheduled. I got my medical back, but between travel for work and the period spent getting my medical back, I only flew 3 hours in the last two months. Needless to say, I wasn't at the top of my game, but I have a good instructor, and I felt competent enough to get through.
Conditions weren't ideal. Although high pressure dominated and the day was warm (by January in DC standards), winds were shifting from a direct crosswind to a slight headwind, and gusting from 8 to 14. Of course, I couldn't get away to do it Friday, when it was dead calm...
We started by checking over the paperwork. I paid the fee. The DPE was pretty tough (he has a reputation for that), but fair, and tried to teach me a few things in the process. Right off the bat I though I failed - Friday the DPE told me to plot a course to Capital City (CXY) in Harrisburg. I drew the course line to Harrisburg Int'l (MDT), next door, instead, and did all of my nav log based on that. I know the difference between the two airports; I was just dog tired by the time I got home and plotted it. I offered to re-do the nav log, saying at least he could observe me doing the work. He told me that in days past, they used to give the candidate the destination just before the checkride and he or she would have 30 minutes to do the log.
I'm OK with plotters and the whiz wheel, so I was able to fix the log in about 8 minutes. We then went on to look at the chart; he quizzed me on some pretty obscure stuff. Can you get fuel at this airport? Yes, it has tick marks around the symbol. How about this one? Should be able to; it's a big airport, but no tick marks. Answer: It houses a National Guard Unit. Possibly for security reasons (?!) the availability of fuel is not marked on charts for military bases, even if they are on otherwise public use airports. Why does this airport with a Guard unit have tick marks? The rule is applied inconsistently... We went over my calcs for weight and balance, and he gave me an out-of-the-envelope scenario and asked me how much weight I would have to shift from the baggage area to the backseat to fix it. I showed him my short field landing and takeoff calculations, and where I added 50% to them because of airplane age and my lack of experience. He didn't like that part; thought it was too conservative.
He quizzed me further on an Alert Area, types of airspace, the Washington, DC ADIZ, and airplane systems. I knew some of it, but not others (I didn't know the master cylinders for the brakes were at the firewall under the pedals...) He pointed out some fun places to fly when I get my certificate. I filed my ADIZ flight plan, got a briefing. Then we flew.
I got my squawk code from Potomac, and checked in with them in the air, as required in the ADIZ. I hit the first couple of checkpoints from my nav log right on, then he had me calc groundspeed - all fine. I then had to divert to a small, inconspicuous airport. I estimated the heading and distance, estimated the time en route, and headed over. Pilotage told me I was right in the neighborhood, but I didn't see it. I turned for another pass, but didn't see it then, either. He told me I had one last chance. I turned once more, and during the turn lifted my wing to look, and it was right there. I was spot-on with the navigation, but had passed over the 1800' strip twice without seeing it! Naturally, this shook my confidence just a little, but I pressed on.
Under the Foggles, I did turns and ascents\descents at a fixed airspeed, followed by unusual attitudes. He really pulled the plane around -- the first time I ever felt queasy in an airplane. Each time, he asked me what attitude we had been in. The last time, he surreptitiously pressed down hard on the right rudder pedal, and when I had trouble centering the rudder, I asked him if he was pressing on it, and if he would please stop doing it.
We did short and soft field takeoffs and landings. I intercepted and tracked a VOR heading he set back to home field. Along the way he offered some friendly tips on things that would help my precision when I started training IFR. We got back to the pattern and he pulled power when I was on downwind abeam the numbers. I had never done one close in like that, and turned right to the airport -- I was too close. I slipped, but couldn't lose altitude fast enough, and went around. Second time was better, but still not good enough; went around. Third try, he said, was my last. I did better, but had some speed and floated a bit. I wasn't down by the midway point of the 4,200' runway... I had understood him to say that this was my last chance to pass, but I was uncomfortably close to my personal minimums and didn't want to run out of runway. I decided to sacrifice my checkride for safety, and announced a go-around as I pushed in the throttle. He said "NO!" and in the next second or two, I pulled throttle, then added a little back to arrest the sink rate. Needless to say, we landed; he had taken the controls, and as we taxied back he asked me for a self-assessment. I felt about half of my checkride was several notches below my normal performance, but I said I appeared to be within PTS tolerances. On the last go-around, I was pretty sure I could have put the plane down if it had been an engine failure, but didn't want to get too close if I didn't have to. He essentially asked if I was doing sort of a dance on this issue, and I told him no, that I knew he said it was my last chance on the engine out, but I made the decision to go around because I thought it was the safe choice. It was a true answer, because as I was making the decision, I really expected it to cost me my checkride. It was only after we parked and I started tying down in a kind of resigned manner, when he said he couldn't think of any major reason not to type up a white piece of paper for me! We went to his office, and he filled out the paperwork, joked with me a bit,
I didn't really get that sense of elation people write about -- I felt kind of traumatized, actually. I could barely stay awake the rest of the evening because I was so fatigued. I was pretty surprised when I looked at the Hobbs and it had only been 1.8 hours. I feel a bit better now, but the fact that I didn't perform as well as I could have is still kind of gnawing at me, and I don't feel the joy and relief I expected... I'm hoping the "Alright - I have my pilot's certificate!" thing will sink in at some point. I am considering sitting down with the DPE and letting him know that I wasn't totally satisfied with my
performance, and asking him for more a debriefing if he's willing.
Thanks everyone for sharing your training and checkride stories with me. I considered checking this newsgroup a valuable part of my training.
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