I'm certified!!!!

Passed my checkride today!

Well, we started today at 7 AM. I was up at 5 AM. I had to put together a weather brief, and weather has been my weakness, so I wanted to spend some extra time on it. After collecting all the forecasts, and analysis charts, I plotted all the data on a map of Florida. Showing where the fronts are located, the convective areas(thunderstorms, they're not flight kosher).

I reviewed the testing standards booklet one last time, and waited for the examiner to arrive. My examiner today was John Carey. Older gentlemen, heard a rumor that he has around twenty thousand hours. I've heard lots of good things about him, from friends and students here. Mainly that he is a non-conventional teacher, and has his own way of doing things. Which I'll talk about more a little later.

The oral was a much better experience than my mock. If I didn't know the answer, he explained it to me, and showed me where to find them in the FAR, or other areas. He is a very thorough examiner. He had a lot of very obscure questions, and knew how to perfectly ask trick questions. It wasn't all serious either, he and I would have a few laughs too. The oral exam lasted about 3 hours.

After that, we checked out the weather, which was marginal at the time. He decided that it would be fine to go, so I picked up the plane keys, and did the weight and balance, and plugged in the wind speeds to my cross country plan.

With a quick pre-flight, along with a few questions from John, we jumped in and were down the taxiway in no time. He was in a hurry to be back for another ride, so most of the time was rushed. At first I thought that he was trying to distract me, but I realized that he was actually just in a hurry. It was a little unsettling, but it didn't distract or deter from my flying.

We started with a normal takeoff, and turned out to the North, and headed for Melbourne. After my first checkpoint, he asked me to calculate my groundspeed. For some stupid reason, I was drawing a blank. I had the time between the points, I had the distance, I had my computer out. I just couldn't make it work. He picked up the computer, and showed me how to do it, and about halfway through I was agreeing with his explanation. I don't know why I got mixed up on it, but I did.

This was the beginning of what I thought was a failing checkride. After that we turned out west, and did some maneuvers. I did my radio call, and he said we didn't need a clearing turn, after we turned to the west. After my pre-manuever check, I started with power on stalls, then power off, then slow flight. These all went mostly well, he had me do the stalls a little different than I was use to, and I made some mistakes on them. He again, showed my the way he would like to see it, and we moved on. Again, thinking I failed another portion. The other maneuvers were uneventful.

He then simulated an engine failure, and asked me to pick a field. I started just fine, did the checklist, and everything in order. It was set up pretty much perfectly, but I did what I tend to always do on the emergency landing practices. Because I'm afraid of running out of landing distance, or getting too far away from my landing area, I shorten my base to final leg. Which produces a very high, very fast final. I wouldn't have made the field I selected, and he was upset with a few things I did. He called it too fancy, and said it was unnecessary to complicate the situation. The procedure they teach us, is to pick the field, and spiral above it, then when you're abeam the landing point, begin a downwind, base, final approach. I did all that, but like I said, I just shortened my last leg. He also explained to me that when I attempted to slip the aircraft, that was not a good idea. He made a very valid point, that it is unwise to be low, and slow, and cross controlled. However, I have always been taught to slip when trying to lose additional altitude, faster. He explained the slip to me in a way that was never explained to me before. I was amazed at the information he told me.

After that we went into ground ref maneuvers, which were fine as well. From there we did a lost procedure. Mind you, we're out in an area I've never been before, an area that was completely baron, and no major landmarks. I found a house as my landmark, and started circling it, while I determined my position. I tuned in two different VORs, and found my exact position, then we were to divert to an airport just north of our home base at Vero. When I attempted to fly to it, I got disoriented and started going the wrong way. He asked my what I was doing, and I explained I got disoriented. I went back to my lankmark, and then re determined my course. I got successfully established on the correct heading, and did a time/speed/fuel calculation. I made it to the field in the exact time I calculated, and my heading I flew took me right to the field.

Here we did some performance landings and take offs. The first one was a short field, and for some reason I thought I was going to land long. We simulate a landing of a very short field, and so If you don't make your landing point, you're supposed to go around. I didn't think I was going to make it, so started to execute the go-around. He cut the power and told me to put it down, and that I did it fine. After that we did a short field take off, an emergency approach from the downwind, and then a soft-field take off.

Then we headed back to Vero, and did a soft field landing.

That was the flight. Total time of 1.7.

At this point I wasn't feeling too confident, but I wasn't saying that to him, I remained positive when he asked how I thought I did. He didn't say anything definitive, in fact he never actually said, you passed. Once he signed my logbook, I knew I had passed.

Out of a possible 90 on the oral, and 90 on the flight, I scored a 90 on the oral, and 85 on the flight. He said I have good aircraft control, and a good sense of things.

To be honest, I was really surprised. I thought I had failed, and he thought I was a moron.

I'm so incredibly happy to be done with this major step in my training. It's a huge relief, and an awesome feeling of accomplishment. It's been a long time coming, and took longer than it should, but I'm very glad it's over. I can't wait to take my parents and friends flying.

If there is anything you think I missed, or would like explained better, let me know.

happy thanksgiving!

Turkey day!

It’s been a long week for me. I had my mock checkride this week, and it didn’t exactly go as planned. I failed both the oral and the flight. Nothing to really worry about, but just a few things I need to work on.

I also bought the Bose Aviation headset this week, and I love it. If you’re thinking about getting it, just get it. You’ll love it too.

checkride coming up

Well I have three flight lessons left, until I do a prep checkride, then the real thing. That's all that stands between me, and a Private Pilot's License… I can taste it, the sweet sweet nectar of it. I have a ton of studying to do again, to prepare for the oral exam, and practical test.

Basically for the checkride, I have to pass an oral examination, and a flight examination. The oral is pretty much some check airman, quizzing me, and picking my brain about everything I know, or think I know. They tend to last about 3 hours. IF I pass the oral, we go on to the practical portion(flight).

During that I'm expected to show positive control, as well as complete a set of maneuvers within certain specifications. The only maneuvers I really need to practice are short field, and soft field landings and takeoffs. Everything else I'm pretty confidant with.

I have been working so much lately, I haven't really had time to keep this updated. I get home from work, try to study for a while, but normally end up falling asleep.

log book

Just finished up another page in my logbook, looks like this:

Takeoff/landings : 209
Single-Engine Land : 64.8
Night : 5
Simulated Instrument : 4.3
Cross Country : 9.3
PIC : 5.3

Astronomical right?

night flight

Tonight I did my night flight cross country. It was scheduled for a 3 hour flight, to complete 10 take off and landings, as well as a 2 hour cross country.

We stayed in the pattern here at Vero to do 8 touch and goes, and then departed north to Daytona Beach. This flight was an excellent demonstration of the night environment here in Florida. Basically I followed the interstate north, from airport to airport. Along the east coast, there is literally an airport every 10-20 miles. Tune in the airport frequency, and key up the lights 🙂 It was a pretty calm flight, didn't have much of anything come in the way. Ducked for a few clouds, but that's about it.

Once we got about 40 miles north, around Melbourne, we picked up flight following, and they helped us along to Daytona. Once we got it trimmed out, and was pretty easy flying, keeping the interstate in view.

Approach called the airport at 12 O'clock, 5 miles. Tower cleared us to land, and we were on our way back before I knew it.

I haven't flown at night for a very long time, and even then I don't think I did very well. It's a much different flying experience. The landscape completely changes, and you have to watch out for different things. You have to think about which way traffic is oriented, as far as nav lights. If you see a steady red light, you have to know which way that traffic is going, and determine if it's a factor to your course.

It's not really 'harder' to fly at night, just much different I guess. I like doing landings at night, because the runway is all you see. No distractions, nothing else to look at. Although the runway will jump up at you at night, but you get use to it.

If everything goes as planned, I should be taking my check ride by the end of next week. I'm super pumped to get this first speed bump out of the way. I can't wait to take some friends up, or my parents. To show them what I've worked so hard to accomplish. Show them how much I love what it is I'm doing.