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Still More Checkrides
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...Checkride #5; ...Checkride #6; ...Checkride #7; ...Checkride #8; ...Checkride #9; ...Checkride # 10; ...Checkride #11; ...Checkride #12; ...Checkride #13; ...Checkride # 14; ...Checkride # 15; ...Checkride # 16; …Checkride 17; …Checkride 18; ...Checkride; ...My Checkride Story; …19, ...20, ...21, ...22...23...24...

 Passed my checkride after 115 hours, one year in process.
Here is what I learned...
....It is of no use comparing your time to anyone else's. I did probably double the time I expected. But it was what time was necessary for me to learn what I needed to learn. Everybody - EVERYBODY - learns at his or her own rate, and it doesn't mean anything one way or the other whether one learns quickly or slowly as long as one learns.

....Patience is a necessary tool because nothing happens when it is expected, due to weather, due to CFIs, due to mechanics and a hundred other factors. I learned, after bunches of delays with getting to my solo, delays getting to my checkride, and delays which split my checkride into two separate sessions, that you can't fret over delays. In fact, the lesson in patience may save my life one day rather than try to rush into the air when weather or mechanics would dictate otherwise.

....Humility. Although I am a respected professional in my business, it is a humbling experience being a rank junior all over again, willing to learn from someone who is much younger than myself, and respecting his talents. I am humbled by the knowledge that I don't know what I don't know. Fortunately, I have years of flying to find out.

....Fear is a good thing. It shows me where there are gaps in my knowledge and drives me to continue to train and learn. Although I would love to fly as "easily" as my CFI, I hope I never become so complacent nor cocky as to think that the plane can't get ahead of me. Finally, I learned how important a support group of other student pilots is - as a collective mind and a virtual hug or pat on the back when needed. Thank you to all the participants of this news group. Particularly to Gene W. ( whose writings have been every bit as valuable as my books. I'll continue to stay with this group because I know my student days have really just begun. Blue Skies, especially to all the new students. 
Dan Katz, PP-SEL as of today!

Checkride #6
As promised, here's the story. I'll try to keep it brief.
The DE and I met on Thursday and completed the oral. It lasted about 2 hours and there were no surprises. He and I are about the same age (45) and were able to talk easily and found that we share some political and ideological views so that helped loosen things up a bit. However, I must say, he was a master at making conversation and picking my brain at the same time. He is very good at what he does! We covered everything you'd expect and spent a good deal of time on airspace in particular.

He seemed especially pleased that I had come prepared and that my flight plan and w/b were neat. We didn't get to do the practical part of the test that day because of the winds so I went home glad to have gotten the oral finished.

Saturday morning I got a call from the DE's wife who does all his scheduling that we could finish the test at 12:30! I was still lounging around in my jammies drinking coffee! Anyway, I managed to finagle the airplane for the afternoon, got a quick shower and ran out the door. Flew from my home field (DVO) to STS for the time to even get nervous. I won't recount every detail, except to say we covered everything in the PTS and he was fair and very professional. I did well with most everything, but power-on stalls (which have never been my favorite thing anyway) were only marginal and he told me so. He said they were passable, but recommended that I practice them a little more to "polish up" a bit.

My short and soft field landings were ok, but not my best so on the way back to STS he said he wanted "just a normal landing...and show me some finesse". So I did a smooth touchdown and he seemed happy.

When we got back to the parking area I shut down the airplane and he said Congratulations, you passed and then signed and handed me my certificate there in the airplane. He also gave me an 8x10 certificate to have framed for my home which is very nice.

Like I was a great day. It sure felt good flying back to DVO with that little white piece of paper in my flight bag :)

Checkride #7
It rained relentlessly all weekend; no last-minute practice flying, though we did three hard hours of ground study. Today dawned clear and cool, perfect. By ten I was too nervous to stay home, so I hauled the books, flight bag and papers off to the airport. Wound up in a computer testing room, as every other surface was already covered with other students' paperwork. Turns out there were FOUR checkrides scheduled today! The examiner got there early, while I was in the throes of last-minute brain-freeze about weight & balance and fuel consumption calculations. He went off to visit buddies at the airport, I finished and did the preflight mostly to wear off the willies.

This same examiner flunked a guy last week on an airspace question, so we'd drilled that. The instructor asked if he could sit in, and (to my surprise) was allowed. I'd done the cross-country as four separate flight plans, to allow for a long stop for fuel on the way there and back again. It was clear to International Falls, and he didn't seem to mind seeing it broken into segments.

Glad I've seen people comment on how the examiner seems to skim over so much stuff: he only looked carefully enough to ensure my numbers were right, then did fifteen minutes on how I really KNEW how much fuel the plane burns per hour. "Are these calculations based on leaning it out above 3000 feet? Then how can they be good even if you think you're using a conservative estimate? Do you use exactly the same technique to lean it as they describe?"

The dreaded trick question: you're 20 miles from the final destination, and call for weather. (We did quite a bit on who you can contact from out there in the boondocks, and whether MSP Control can hear you even if they ARE the authority in that region) You're told the ceiling's 6000 but visibility is only 2 miles because of smoke. (There have been hundreds of wildfires this spring, and the Forest Service is preparing for forest fires because of a massive tornado that downed millions of trees in the northern forests.)

Bottom line: you're already out of Class E visibility. He let me sweat a while, then nudged me into realizing I could descend to 1200 feet and be in Class G…until the airport, which is E to the ground. Before our cram sessions, I would have failed to realize that not being a student any more; I could request Special VFR clearance to land there. That answer got me past that deadly spot.

Can you take cold pills, if they DON'T have warnings about drowsiness and operating machinery? (Have I mentioned how valuable all the discussion in this newsgroup has proven?) WHY do you use 2300 RPM as cruising speed?

With the instructor looking calm across the table, I was nearly speechless a couple times fighting the desire to say "I'd like to call a friend on that one."

He didn't say I'd flunked the oral, so we went to the plane. After I'd moved my seat way up, it suddenly slid back…and I'd swear he hit the latch. As a Short Person, I always check the seat lock first thing. But I humbly agreed with his lecture about making sure it's locked in position. Talking, I missed both the first checkpoints but calmly noted it about two minutes late each time and logged the time, comparing it with my plan. That was the right thing to do: "so your fuel-burn figures are good?" Yes.

We diverted to a small airport until I could swear I saw it, then did steep turns after adding clearing turns he didn't suggest, and making sure we were high enough, something he's nailed other people on. Slow flight was next ("why do you lose airspeed on turns?" Horizontal component of lift, whew) and right into a power-off stall with a decent recovery but enough nose-down to make him almost grab for it. I never stop at a mere "imminent." Then we did my very first ever-turning stall. I didn't tell him I'd never done one before. Didn't seem wise.

Altitude wandered badly while we cruised, but I kept it good for a few minutes of hood work and then headed to Anoka to drop him off. After a power-off landing and a couple plain ones, he noted my crosswind landings still need work, then patted my head and smiled for the first time: "but I'll pass you."

Checkride # 8
Finally had the checkride yesterday. Typical summer California weather, low clouds in the morning burning off. Really hectic day. My wife just became a citizen and had the swearing in ceremony in the morning. Had to go meet instructor for last minute logging of ground instruction. Then celebration lunch. Then over to the field to finish XC planning, landing and TO performance, W&B, final DUATS printout. Still in the process when DE walks in, 40 minutes early. I keep on working. Finally get done and we begin.

Start with the paperwork. ID, give my passport, if passport need another ID, try AOPA card, nope, needs picture, try expired driver's license (current was was stolen with flight bag when car broken into), no good not current address, maybe a gas bill, garbage, etc., nope, all at home, how about FBO file, try with copy of current DL, OK, good. Current medical, and logbook, dual time, solo, solo XC, long XC, night dual, sim inst, yadda, yadda, all OK (124 total, I'm over on EVERYTHING). Completed form 8710 (or whatever) OOPS, had left times blank to fill in after Monday's flight, furiously add up times while he goes for aircraft logs, looking completely disorganized in the process (it was at the top of my checklist too, bad boy, smack!). Sign and date. Asks about validity of my medical. OK.

Logbooks. Do AV1ATE. He asks me about the currency for the ELT inspection, not the battery. Don't know. Say I'll look up and he lets me, points out the relevant FAR. I find, one year. Goes into spiel about the usefulness of ADs as to keep in mind the possible failure modes of an aircraft one not familiar with. OK. Asks about documents on aircraft, recite AROW, fine. Asks about what I need. OK. We go on to cover power plant, effects of turning off master on same (i.e. nothing), vacuum driven instruments, flaps, flap failures (tells me to put back lever if no effect, in case it gets unstuck), V speeds.

On to physiological factors, hypoxia, hyper-ventilation, IMSAFE. No problems. Let's see XC flight plan. OK. Look on sectional. Trace out route. Investigate airs paces, visibility, cloud clearances, confuse E and G below 1200AGL but straighten it out. Asks about requirements to enter and operate in class C and B. Goof on that one. Said that I needed to talk to SFO Tower to enter SF class Bravo, correct is Norcal Approach, I though that the delimiter was the Class B itself, Tower inside, Approach outside. Not so. Learning already. Move to some Class E with 700AGL floor, Restricted, and what's this? Third goof. A-862 I think. Find in the legend and ident hours of operation, but not the type. Controlling agency is NO A/G (whatever that is) so no help. Worse, I'd gone through it on my long XC, so no excuses. He finally points out that it specifies ALERT in the heading. Doh!

Looks at performance and W&B numbers. Asks where the basic numbers were obtained, I answer from the W&B report in the plane, he looks happy at this. We look at the DUATS printout. Looks pretty good and improving, but an AIRMET for light to moderate turbulence in our whole area. He explains that at this point the practical has not started and that we can discontinue, or if we run into non-predicted adverse weather, but if there is known weather and it affects the flight it is a disapproval (don't know if it's a canned speech but it set alarm bells ringing in my head), I said that I would talk to briefer and let him know. Dial up FSS and tell the briefer that I'm going on checkride so to take no chances. Looks clearer than the printed, but still turbulence, decide to go. Tell DE and he says to go out and preflight, I'm surprised he didn't want to watch.

I preflight and get all the things set in the right place, POH and AFD on right, sectional, plotter, and E-6B on left. Go back and get DE and hood. He explains that he is a complete zero and I don't have to passenger brief him (I've read the post on CRM and using the DE, but looked at the text and it may be a little suspect, leave for another thread, I decided not to push it). Said he doesn't even log it as dual given. I go through start up checklist, no problem, get ATIS, call ground, and start taxi. Check my brakes, say "Your controls", he looks a little surprised and says "OK" and taps the brakes, I say "My controls" and continue. Not a very positive exchange but let's leave it at that. The wind is right down the runway, but swinging from left quarter to right quarter, I keep swinging the ailerons, probably look spastic.

Get to runup area, turn too far from edge, leave in the middle, gross. Set instruments and run it up, fails mag check, he perks up at this. Aside here: the ship was scheduled for maint Monday all the way through my ride, they were going to take cylinders off to look at a possible ring problem leading to fouling, mechanic said if anything happened to go full power, full rich, for three seconds. Never heard that one before. If it didn't work to come back and they would have me gone in ten minutes after cleaning it. So I try it and it works. Should probably go talk to mech and ask about it.

Hold short of 31R and announce to tower, get cleared and go. No problems with comms (yet) always flown from controlled field. He asks for a short field TO. So I do. Wind is all over the place and pitch control is difficult, obstacle cleared, transition to Vy, turn for noise abatement (that could be a bust according to PTS) and turn cross, then down wind, pitch and roll control still rough, but rudder is OK (took long enough to get THAT automatic!). Log time off and calculate TOC time. Do some shallow S turns for visibility. Planned to go to 5500MSL but before I get there he wants me to divert. I as for an altitude and he says my discretion, so I choose 3500MSL so have to set and trim to cruise, set power, AND divert. And were still getting bounced around, none of maintaining roll attitude with the rudder, I keep having to use pretty solid aileron thrusts. Somehow manage to measure 10nm distance and 20 east of south true so 160 true so 145 magnetic. Turn to and record time. So he asks when we get there. So I say roughly 5 min. He says how rough, so I spin madly on the E-6B and come up with 5.5 min.

He made very clear that I had all the radios so I dial in the field CTAF and announce. He asks for some clearing turns so I do 90 left 90 right. Now steep turns. Bump the throttle, trim nose up and go into right. Still bumpy but I keep the altitude within limits, roll out on heading but no chance of feeling my wake like I was doing during practice. He has me do another to the left, but no better (but no worse) than the first. So far so good.

Now he asks for slow flight, flaps 40, 55 KIAS. pull power, white arc, flaps, trim, power, but not enough to keep altitude, behind the power curve and the plane, pathetic. Maintain coordinated flight, and work to get to entry altitude under some semblance of non-panic. He asks fro turns to heading and I work them, still creeping to altitude. OK, now stall. So I power up and start to retract flaps and he asks me what I was doing. I say a stall like I was taught, can't stall from here?

Well, OK (Do or die now, stalls are one of my weakest areas, together with GR, landings, you name it). So flaps back out, GUMPCCUPS real fast, power idle and pull back, buffet, horn, stall, pitch, cram, clean, climb, lost about 100, one of my best stalls ever. So I'm cleaning flaps at Vy, and he pulls my engine. Glide, grass, gas. Set pitch, start lazy turn to the field 3 mi away and start my mental checklist, simulate nothing worked, get out my checklist and confirm. He asks where I'm going and I tell him about the airfield I chose. Still way high so I mosey over to see the windsock, announce the simulated engine failure, and do figure eights at the approach end getting down. I explain that I'll kill the master after flaps and before we TD. Decide to turn final, am high, so I slip, slip some more (before putting any flaps in, the checkride is NOT usenet, even though I have The Shirt and believe in it), hang out the boards, master off (simulated), and am STILL high, but the wind is honking, I still have to slip some, and I'll make midfield. Totally botch the flare and drop it in from two feet up. But we're down. He says "OK off we go", so I put in power, retract flaps, cut the power and explain that I landed too long for comfort, we'll taxi back.

No follow TO and landings and pattern, of which the details blur. Except for the constant fight to maintain attitude, the sloppiness of the crab on the legs of the pattern, and calling that I had turned a left cross wind when I had done right, so I had to correct myself. Several other planes out there and I did keep good SA throughout, and generally good comms. We do a straight out heading home and he tells me to don the hood (or is it hood the Don?) and we do climbing turns, straight and level, VOR nav, all OK. Turbulence is less and that helps. Unusual attitudes. The first one is a doozy. Recover. I'm nose high, so power up, pitch down and roll level, oops I'm also fast, so power back. Happened in less than a second, and I didn't exceed Vno so OK. Next one. I'm nose down, so power back, level, and pitch. We're done.

He tells me to get ATIS and tell tower we're inbound. He takes the plane and starts talking about how I can improve my flare, so I figure I've got it. He talks about the illusion changing from plane going to runway to runway going to plane as an indicator for flaring. Never hear that one either. Does a couple of patterns and tells me to do one. I do one fairly acceptable landing for the conditions (more wind than I had seen in moths). So he tells me to park and meet him in his office. Just now the heart rate is going down. 1.4 on the Hobbs.

In the office he asks how I think I did and I tell him that by regs if he hasn't told me already I've passed. He says that it was a very solid performance, but I point out the pitch problems, the flaring, the GR, the comms snafu. He says that smoothness will come, that the outcome of a maneuver was never in doubt. Great day. Many thanks to all that have contributed here and that have played no small part in this milestone. Thanks one and all.

PS. I see that I missed the discussion of alternator failures, and the one go round (which has to be demonstrated anyway, doesn't it).

Checkride #9
I've only posted here a few times in the last 6 months but I've been an avid reader and learned a great deal from all of you. I was hoping to get the checkride out of the way a month ago before I went on vacation for two weeks but it was raining on the day of the checkride. We got the oral out of the way that day anyhow. Then I went on vacation for a couple weeks, then practiced some more for a week, then played phone tag with the DE for a week. Friday night the examiner called me up at 9pm and said that if we can get a plane we can do the ride the next morning.

My flight school was of course all booked up for the weekend but the examiner owns a 152 that his local club uses which happened to be free available. I was rather concerned about flying an aircraft I had never seen before on my checkride. I whipped out the cross country planning that night (we had to change the route from the one I had planned a month ago due to marine layer conditions on the coast), reviewed some procedures, and tried to get some sleep.

We met at Montgomery Field the next morning at 10am. By 11 the marine layer overcast cleared to haze and we were off. Fortunately, his 152 was pretty much identical to the 152's I had flown before. Once we were in the air I completely forgot that it was a new aircraft to me. Everything went relatively well. My biggest problem was he used terminology slightly different than my instructor. I got a little confused in using VOR but got it figured out after a bit of thinking about what he was asking. He also asked me to slow it down to the no-flaps minimum controllable airspeed and turn to a heading. I had never heard MCA used in reference to a 152. It took me a second to realize he was asking me to do slow-flight.

The only other glitch I ran into was when he pulled the power on me. When my instructor and I usually do this we do it in the nearby practice area. But we were a couple thousand feet above pattern altitude over the runway of a busy uncontrolled airport (I hear rumors that they are trying to make it a controlled field). I did the 7 S's while coming up with a plan for what I was going to do. The other traffic made things kind of tricky. I spiraled down out away from the pattern and then entered on a close-in downwind with the appropriate announcements (I am rather proud I remembered how to do that because I've only flown into uncontrolled fields a couple of times before) for my first key point for a short approach which should have easily put us on the runway. Unfortunately there was another aircraft on final right where I wanted to turn in. I skipped flaps and tried to stretch downwind out behind him and then turn in close behind him which put things way off and left us without decent spacing and probably not enough glide distance to do an actual touchdown on the runway like he wanted. At that point I was screwed so I powered up and said we weren't going to make it. He agreed that I easily would have made it if that other aircraft had not been on final. Had it been an actual emergency I would have declared it to the other traffic and made them get the heck out of my way and made the landing. His only complaint was that I should have circled down right over the numbers instead of out past the downwind. Had there been no other traffic or in an actual emergency I would have done so but it didn't seem like a good idea at the time. We would have come down right on top of the guy on final. He was satisfied that I knew what I was doing and we went on to do the steep turns, s-turns, turns about a point, etc. which went perfectly. My steep turns have improved a whole lot since I started out!

I then navigated back to Montgomery and just for kicks he had me fly the ILS in. Once established I had two in the doughnut all the way down to where he told me to look at the runway. Sweet! Yes, this 152 was a full IFR airplane! I've never seen a 152 with so much equipment jammed in it. Overall my flying was smooth, landings were great, and I had a good time. First pax next weekend! :) IFR ticket and other great fun, here I come!
Tracy Reed

 Checkride # 10
Took my checkride yesterday. In spite of all the work and studying, I was still a bit nervous. After the oral we went out to the plane to fly part of the cross-country that the D.E. had me plan. Got as far as 15 miles southeast of Livermore airport (My flight plan was to RBL - Red Bluff Airport, CA) and she had me divert to Byron Airport (C83). I demonstrated stalls, soft & short-field takeoffs and landings,,,, and more. Some maneuvers I knew that I normally do much better,,, still she didn't say a word (i.e., she had told me that if she didn't say anything, it meant the test was going well). At some point she told me to fly back to my home airport (RHV) on any heading, my choice.

I kept thinking all the way back that she hadn't said that I failed anything yet, but I still wasn't certain. Called tower, reporting over Calaveras Reservoir (which is northeast of the airport). The controller recognized my voice and thought I was calling from Coyote Lake,,,, since I often would practice maneuvers at some airports south of my home airport. Anyway, he cleared me to land, straight-in on runway 31R, which of course would only be possible if I were approaching from the south. I paused for a moment, trying to think if there was any other possible interpretation of the controller's instruction and couldn't think of one. I called position again and asked if the tower understood that I was reporting at a location North-North-East of the airport. The controller promptly corrected his clearance for a 45 into the downwind, #2 cleared landing. As I was on final the controller said a twin was gaining on me and asked me to do a go-round. Not a problem, back into the pattern again.

The D.E. wanted me to demonstrate a short-field landing, which I did and after receiving clearance from ground I taxied to the tie-down area. Once I shut down the plane the D.E. turned to me and shook my hand, congratulating me on passing my checkride. First word out of my mouth was "really????!!!", not that I thought I did badly, it was just almost dreamlike hearing her say those words.

She told me she would go into the FBO and fill out the paperwork while I tied-down the plane. Felt like I needed to pinch myself,,, I said the words to myself "I am a licensed pilot,,,," over and over to reassure myself that I was not just having a great dream.

Checkride# 11
Private Pilot Checkride! I spent all day yesterday working my cross-country numbers for today's event. I got up at 5:30 am and called Flight Service for the weather and the winds aloft had changed. Re-worked my numbers and made it out the door a little after 7:15 a.m. Spokane weather: Foggy, with the ceiling just above my kneecaps.

I hit the door at Felts Field Aviation right on time to meet the Designated Examiner, Jim Bening. We chat for a few minutes then he starts with the questions. Aircraft logbooks, (take my advice, get 'em early, and study them closely). Then on to the general knowledge. Now, I got a 97 on the written test and over the last year, I have studied this stuff to the max. I have read every book on this subject in the Spokane library. When I got through all their books, I cleaned out the Aviator Store at Boeing Field every time I was in Seattle on Business. I have an aviation library to die for.

I know this stuff cold. Do any of these books present the information the same way Jim asks the questions? NOT! He is everywhere. A seemingly innocent story from him turns into a grueling question. After 45 minutes, I'm worn out and depressed. The receptionist leans in and tells Jim that there's a call on the Unicom for him. He looks puzzled but heads out. I lean back in the chair for a brief respite. He comes back in. "That was your instructor, Tom, checking in to ask how you were doing." I must be one of the first PP candidates to have their instructor check in from a Northwest Airlines 757, SEA to MSP flight.

OK, a lighter moment, now back to the torture. We do my X/C numbers. I'm off a few degrees here and there, and Jim shows me a nifty trick or two to do this better. Now airspace: I know this stuff. Not so fast little student. He pulls out the chart and gives me a quick flight scenario with the question: "Is it legal?" Low ceiling and visibility flight, from Class G, Class E (or is it?) into a non-controlled Class E airport. What can you do? Who can you call for Special VFR clearance? Another 20 minutes of him drawing out my knowledge and imparting some of his. on this topic. I'm a wreck. Time for a break.

Back at it. Chart symbols. Alright, something I finally know. No problem, can't fool me. To make a long story short, this was three hours of sheer mental gymnastics and he's got me wrapped around the parallel bars with no net. Again, he's a nice guy, but this is brutal. A few more questions and it seems that this little portion is coming to a close. I figure that I am toast. Jim asks how I think I have done. I'm honest. I'm not impressed by me. He goes over my performance and gives me a C+. Yep, I pass the oral. It was a three-hour ordeal! Whew! However, we peek outside and the fog is still there. The ceiling is a little higher but still way below pattern altitude. It's 11:00 a.m. and the bottom line: If there's no improvement by 1:00 p.m., it'll be another day.

Take a break, get some lunch and check in a little later. First I go to the quickee stop for a Diet Pepsi, then I wander over to the hanger and optimistically put my stuff in the plane and putter around for a few minutes. I step back outside and the flying gods have smiled! The fog is gone, ceiling at 2,000. Back I go, grab Jim, and we're on for the flying stuff! I do the pre-flight ,and all is well. I taxi, and all is well. A short field take off, and all is well. I head for my first heading on my cross country, and all goes to hell. "Al, pull out your chart and let's see your first checkpoint. Where's my chart? Carefully tucked in the bag that I had for all the oral stuff. When I fly, I just carry my little bag with my headset and those flying things. My chart is always in my flight bag.....until today. I have all my x/c calculations on my sheet on my kneeboard, but the chart with the little lines on it is in the car. Whatcha gonna do? Am I finished? Not yet.

There's always a chart in the plane, it just doesn't have my little lines on it. It's good enough for Jim. I know where I'm going, my courses are on my sheet. I'm back on. But that's just the start. If I thought he was tough on the oral, I wasn't ready for this! We hit my first checkpoint and oh no!

Bad weather, divert to the nearest paved airport to the east. I pick it, and turn to it. (It helps to study the charts and to have lived here forever.) To St. Maries, Idaho, we go. I make the heading and it's on with the hood. We do some turns, descents, and climbs. I have a little trouble with my altitude but correct it. Then turn to the Spokane VOR. No problem. Unusual attitudes. No problem. Off with the hood. Slow flight. So so. Steep turns. OK. Now stalls. A power on stall first. OK. Power off stall, with flaps. Flaps? What flaps. The flaps are toast. They are stuck in the up position. We play for a while, (and I still fly the plane). Oh, well. Do some S turns across a road. I do them, but sloppy. No, turns around a point. Trouble. I can't get set up. Too high, too low. It takes a couple of tries to get it right . I do a couple. Emergency landing, we need an emergency descent, no flaps. I try a slip. Not good, don't get it right.

Sloppy. I make the field, (it's a harvested wheat field). We, of course, do not land but drop to a couple hundred feet. Climb out and it's time to head home. I'm not impressed with my performance. I've blown altitude several times and I think he has to give me too much advice on some of my maneuvers. Now the flap thing. Jim says that we may have to reschedule because we still have some landings to do that require flaps. I putter back to Felts Field and make a nice no flaps landing. We tuck 457BC back into the hanger and Jim says, "let's go rent a plane and knock off those remaining landings." Hmmm. Does that mean that all the crap I've been doing is acceptable? Hmmmm.

We check out a C-172 from Felts Field Aviation. I do the pre-flight. Oh, oh. Trouble. In the last 14 months, every plane I have flown has an airspeed indicator with miles per hour. This puppy is in knots. I'm screwed. OK, I'll give it a shot. Different plane. Different airspeed indicator. Different instrument locations. What the heck. What else could go wrong? I taxi to runway 21R. A soft field takeoff. It's good. My pattern sucks though. I forgot about the knots thing. I get set up on down wind. It's a soft field landing. A good touchdown, keep the nose up. I make it and take off again. I set up for a short field landing over a 50 foot obstacle. Watch the airspeed. Watch it....over the threshold at 50 feet, power off. Settle down. A little fast with some float. Touch down. A little slow on the brakes, but I make the first turnoff. "Good landings, Al, " he says. Whew! Taxi to parking. I chat with Jim. How do I think I did. I relate all my faults over the day. I'm depressed. I could have done this better, that better. Yada yada yada.

I figure, a few more sessions with Tom and I can give it another try. Jim reminds me that he would have never gotten the second plane if I hadn't done OK. Hmmmm. He's right. And the landings were good in plane number 2. Hmmmmm. He's right! "Tie it down," he says. "I've got some paperwork to do." Hmmmm. He's right. I passed. (1.5 hours/60 hours total) Private Pilot Certificate Issued.

It's been 14 months and 55 flights for a total of 60 hours in the air. I don't think I'll add up the money. PP-ASEL after my name was worth it. Thanks to everyone in the group that gave me advice (whether they knew it or not).
Happy Flying.
Al Gilson,

Wow - it took a year and a half but I finally did it - passed my checkride this morning!

I was supposed to meet the examiner around 7:00am so I got up around 4:30 so I could get the winds aloft and finish my cross-country flight plan from Addison to Tulsa. Managed to get to the airport right at 7:00 (thanks to Dallas traffic) and talked with my instructor (who showed up early to make sure everything was in order) and the examiner for a few minutes before we got down to business. Im not sure if all examiners are like this guy, but he was great - made me feel totally comfortable and we went through the entire oral as if it was just a conversation between two pilots. Didn't try to stump me or trick me at all. He wanted to make sure that I knew the difference between Sigmets and Airmets, what the required documents were, airplane (and parts) inspection frequency, a few airspace questions, fuel question, weight and balance question (just asked if it would be possible to take 350 lbs of gold bars safely in the airplane - yes if you use both the baggage and passenger compartments), and a few other minor questions about weather. But the way he conducted it it didn't even feel like I was being quizzed - really great guy.

The oral part done, we left Millionaire (where we met for the oral) and headed to Flight Line to get our plane. I had previously given him my flight plan to Tulsa so he could look it over and couldn't remember if he had given it back to me or if he had kept it. I started to worry until he showed up and said he still had it, but that we wouldn't use it - he just wanted me to show that I knew how to plan a cross-country flight.

We get the plane started up and I notice that while I can hear the ATIS recording in my headset, I can't hear him nor myself. We shut down thinking it might be a headset problem and I go to the desk to exchange it for another. Same problem. By now I'm thinking that I wont get to go today because there's a problem with the plane itself. I never had this problem before but all it ended up being was a switch on the radio where you select who can talk on the radio, Pilot, Crew and Passengers. Can't remember which one it was on Passengers?) but we got it switched to the correct setting and taxied out to the runway.

The winds were calm at the airport but it was fairly cool - probably about 45, so despite us both being big guys, the plane climbed like a rocket and we headed off to our first checkpoint which was Aero Country. We flew straight and level the whole way, until we got a few miles north of Aero Country, abeam a city called Gunter (sp?) when he said that we had imaginary thunderstorms in front and behind us, and he wanted to get to McKinney, which was about 10 miles to the South. He asked what I would do if I only had about 3 miles viz and needed to get to McKinney - I told him I'd do basically a 180 and head just a little to the southeast until I hit the airport. He suggested that I follow a very prominent road (I-75) since it directs you almost straight in. We did exactly that and called McKinney tower to ask for permission to do touch-and-goes, which was no problem for them since there were only 2 other planes in the pattern. We get set up on a left downwind and the first landing is a short field which goes amazingly well. He tells me not to put the brakes on when we touch down and we go directly to a rolling short-field takeoff. From there, back around and do a soft-field landing - not as smooth as it should have been - and into a rolling soft-field takeoff. One more time around for a normal landing and about 100 feet up he calls for a go-around and we exit the pattern.

Now time for hood-work. Put the foggles on and he has me do some climbs and descending turns to a heading - nothing too difficult. Take the foggles off and we do some stalls. First one is a power-off clean stall. No problems there. Next one is a power-off dirty in a left-hand turn. Finally we do a power-on clean in a right-hand turn, and one power-on dirty in a left hand turn. Recover from both amazingly well.

I was expecting some ground reference maneuvers at this point, but we started to head back to Addison, and discussed VOR tracking on the way. He even showed me how to track to the outer marker and use the glide-slope as if we were flying IFR... guess he was pretty confident with my VFR abilities.

He commented how well my landing was back at Addison and he shakes my hand as we turn off the runway and says, "Congratulations, you're now a private pilot!" I park the plane and meet him inside a few minutes later to take care of the paperwork and told him before I left how much I enjoyed flying with him.

As far as Im concerned, all I have is a license to learn - there's still so much about flying that I dont know and from what I've heard, will probably never know 100%. Im just going to try to keep the shiny side up, the wheel side down, and not swap paint with anyone else, on the ground or in the air.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you in this newsgroup for being so supportive and helping me answer a lot of questions over the past year and a half. And to those of you just starting - keep your chin up and don't get down on yourself when times are hard! The end result is worth it!


The big day finally arrived, December 13. It was time to meet the DE to take the oral exam and check ride for a private pilot certificate. I made a point to get to the FBO early and get the aircraft maintenance logs and other documentation ready. Went out to look over the airplane.

Not good, it had been sitting out all night and was covered with frost. Mechanics had something going on and refused to make a spot in the hangar to thaw it out. Oh, well. At least it was pointed into the rising sun, maybe it would thaw a little bit during the oral exam.

Called for the current weather briefing for the planned cross-country flight. A good thing this was only for practice, VFR flight was not recommended due to ice, snow and reduced visibility along the route. I was doing one final review of the paperwork when the DE arrived.

Started the oral exam with some questions on Part 61, certification, privileges and responsibilities of a private pilot. Then moved on to Part 91, required inspections and a review of the aircraft log books. That seemed to go pretty well, after about a dozen questions the DE looked at his watch and said "This won't take long, you know what you are doing." Surprised me as he had to prompt me a bit on a couple of questions. Then did the obligatory questions on alcohol.

Next was aerodynamic principles, how does a wing work, what is adverse yaw, what is relative wind. Holding up a plastic airplane at a 60-degree nose up angle and asked "What would be the relative wind if this were an F-16? What if it were a Cessna 172?". Then a brief glance at the cross country navigation logs I had filled out for a flight from Colorado Springs (COS) to Wichita (ICT). A suggestion to always write course headings in three digits and a positive comment about the runway sketches for airports along the route that I had made in the notes section. Then he had me do a fuel burn computation on the E6B and that ended the cross country and navigation part of the exam.

This DE has a reputation for really stressing how to read the sectional charts. He informed me that the sectional is not a map. Aviation uses *charts*. He was satisfied with my answers for the various airspace classes, entry and equipment requirements and visibility minimums. At least until we got down to class G airspace. (I think the G stands for all the Goofy changes to the visibility rules.) He had to prompt me for some answers and most of the answers were wrong. He gave some tips on how to remember the various visibility rules and altitudes. I think he liked that I was taking notes on all of the tips he was passing on. Then he had me read various bits of information off of the sectional. What does this symbol represent, decode this line of information, is this a lighted airport, what are the traffic pattern direction and altitude? He then pointed to a 2500 foot private strip at 6200 feet M.S.L. and asked if a Cessna 172 could be safely operated from it. Off to the takeoff performance charts and decided that whoever owned that strip had something with a whole lot more performance than a 172. A couple questions on weight and balance ended the oral review.

A brief discussion about what to expect during the flying portion of the test. My instructor had put the heater on the engine and was finishing removing the frost when we went out to the airplane. Thank you, Mike! Started the pre-flight and promptly got yelled at for lowering the flaps. "Don't take any more energy out of a cold battery than absolutely necessary. Save it for starting!". So if I hadn't lowered the flaps would he have dinged me for not following the checklist? Didn't feel brave enough to ask though.

Started to do the spiel about seat belts and doors and got a "Yeah, yeah. Lets get going." for my efforts. Ran down the checklist for starting the engine. Gave it four shots on the primer and drew a comment "That's too much.". Not exactly helping to keep the confidence level up. Taxiing out was OK other than having to dodge snow ploughs cleaning some packed snow off the taxiways. I'm going down the centerline and preparing to swing left to avoid a plough 500 feet ahead when the DE said "You'd better get over now.". Gee, hope he didn't think I was planning on ramming the plough.

Takeoff was normal but I forgot to note the time. Remembered it on climb out and made an estimate of the actual takeoff time. Got on the appropriate radial to the VOR for the first leg of the cross country. DE said "A wall of weather just developed to the North and East and the Colorado Springs airport is on fire. Where are you going to go?" Turned south to the Pueblo airport, tuned in the VOR and set a course. A quick measurement with the sectional and plotter to get the distance and a mental calculation to get a time estimate and the diversion to an alternate was completed.

 "Lets do slow flight." Thanks to constant nagging by my instructor, I remembered to do a clearing turn instead of just barging into the maneuver. Had the flaps fully extended but we were still slowing through 55 knots when the DE said "Give me a 90 degree turn to the right and resume cruise." That's all? Gee, my instructor always made me get down to 44 knots and do 360 degree left and right turns. This was too easy. Next was a departure stall. Set up the climb while in the clearing turn, pulled the nose up and induced the stall. Right wing dropped a bit in the stall which I wasn't expecting but otherwise the recovery went well. "OK, give me an approach stall." Another clearing turn and set up for approach attitude. Got the glide stabilized and induced the stall. So far, so good. At least I thought the stall recoveries went well. Next up were steep turns, one to the right and one to the left. Had to fight a bit to keep from losing too much altitude but otherwise the turns were OK. It seemed like throughout the entire flight I was constantly chasing the altimeter. Never got a really good trim and was constantly bobbing up and down seventy to eighty feet. Not good, altitude control is another pet peeve for this DE.

Time to put the Foggles on for instrument reference work. Did some basic straight and level flight and turns to a specified heading. Next, tuned in the Black Forest VOR and set a course to fly directly to the VOR. Those maneuvers went well, next was a couple of unusual attitude recoveries. One nose high and banking, the other nose low and banking. "OK, give me a standard rate 270 degree turn. What course heading will we come out on?" and I correctly answered "North, zero degrees". Set up the turn and feeling good when I hear "Descend to 8000 feet." Pulled the throttle back to start the descent and "Why are you reducing power?" He had actually said "Turn out on 080 degrees." Oops, big goof on my part.

"Remove the Foggles and descend to 7500 feet and pick a pond or windmill to do turns around a point." There just happened to be (yeah, right) a windmill coming up about a half mile to the left side and we were heading downwind. OK, this is easy, rolled into the turn and managed to gain 300 feet of altitude. Argh! Corrected the altitude and continued the turn. Rolled out on the initial heading when he said "Pull the power. You just lost your engine.". Set for best glide speed, identified my landing spot and rattled off the rest of the restart procedure. "Your engine didn't start, now what are you going to do?". Recited the forced landing checklist and he decided I would make it to the chosen landing spot. Add power and climb back up to 7500 feet.

"Get the current ATIS and head in for some touch-n-goes.". Still fighting with holding altitude, I'd trim for level and a minute later we would be 200 feet high. Got a couple comments about "We don't need to go any higher.". Managed to do a semi decent approach to 17L and a nice landing. Only thing wrong was that I was 20 feet to the right of the centerline. Nuts! OK, take off and set up for another landing. Got a comment about needing to turn base sooner after reducing power. During each of the approaches I was verbalizing what my mistakes were and what I was doing to correct to show that I at least knew I wasn't totally lost. Still had a slight crab when the mains touched but at least this time I was only ten feet right of the centerline. DE said there appeared to be a tricky low-level wind that I wasn't compensating for.

 He then asked me to request a full stop. Were the normal landings so bad he didn't want to see how bad I could mess up soft and short field landings? ATC had to get the snow ploughs off of runway 17R for my full stop landing and had me extend my upwind. Managed to come in high this time and again landed to the right of the centerline. For my final goof, I forgot to read the after landing checklist but did the steps from memory and forgot two. Pretty bad for a four step checklist. Aside from the necessary instructions and a few comments, during the entire flight the DE sat in the seat with his arms crossed and giving absolutely no feedback on how good or bad I was doing. Very disconcerting. During the taxi in the he started talking a bit more and gave me some tips on setting up approaches and dealing with the crosswind.

By now I knew I had blown the ride. If the botched landings weren't enough, my failure at holding a constant altitude was. Shut down the plane and the DE said he would meet me inside. Finished tying the plane down and locking it up. The flight was only 1.3 hours but I was totally drained. That walk into the FBO was a lot longer than it had ever been before. Trudged into the office where the DE was typing up what I assumed to be the failure notice when my instructor held out his hand and said "Congratulations!". Could have knocked me over with a feather I was so surprised. Even a full day later it's still hard to believe that I passed.
Dave Martin - A still stunned but proud new PP-ASEL

I just sent this to someone about to take a checkride. May as well post it here.
The examiner already knows that you know how to fly safely and how to do all the required maneuvers and tasks. If you didn't, your instructor and flight school would not have shut off the flow of cash from your wallet to theirs by signing you off. The purpose of the checkride is to determine if the friends and family members who will shortly be occupying the other seats in your plane will be acceptably safe in your hands.

The examiner will first and foremost be looking for attitude. He or she knows that, no matter how precisely you perform on the checkride, your experience will only be 1/8 inch deep when you first put that little blue card in your wallet. Knowing your limitations is an important part of flying safely and that will be just as true at 30,000 hours as at 60. Examiners who see the right attitude will usually cut the applicant a great deal of slack on the flying. They know you didn't sleep very well last night. If they think you might go right out in MVFR and buzz your girlfriend's house, they will find a way to fail you.

Forget that the examiner knows anything. Pretend that you are taking your mother or girlfriend for her first ride and trying to make the experience as calm and reassuring as possible. Make sure the examiner doesn't walk near the prop. Give a good passenger briefing. Explain the things you are doing but don't try to impress. The examiner wants to know that you know that you don't know everything yet.

An important part of accepting the responsibility of carrying passengers is being in command. Be in command. The examiner may ask you to explain something in the pattern that has nothing to do with the task at hand. Say politely but firmly that you like a sterile cockpit in the airport area but would be glad to explain it later. You may be asked to perform a maneuver at too low an altitude or commit some other infraction. The examiner wants to know if you are in charge of the aircraft. Show that you are. You wouldn't do something just because your mother asked you to. Don't do it just because the examiner asks unless you first determine that it is safe and appropriate.

Don't worry about being nervous. If something goes wrong for real while flying, you'll be plenty nervous. The examiner will be more impressed if you are nervous but still able to carry out the required tasks properly than if you are able to maintain test pilot calm while losing track of things.

Thorough planning and a careful pre-flight will go a long way towards getting you off on the right foot. If the weather is less than perfect, make sure the examiner knows you have a clear idea of the conditions under which you wouldn't fly. I planned a different flight than I was assigned because I told my examiner that I wasn't a mountain pilot yet and a checkride was not sufficient reason to go there without proper additional training and experience. That got me big points.

Finally, accept that you are going to make mistakes. Demonstrating perfection is less important than showing that a flub is not going to set off a spiral of increasing befuddlement. Be the first to say, "That wasn't very good. Let's try it again." The ability to get right back in the groove after a problem will be important as long as you fly. Leave your mistakes behind you and show the examiner you can do it. If you can, they may not count against you as much as you think at the time.

This is a long/short story of how I went from a strictly land based creature to one who can fly!
How It Started
Back in 1966 I got to take a ride in an old 4 seat plane (not sure what type, likely a C-172) - wow was that fun. I was just a kid, had made many models planes, and loved to watch 12 O'clock High. As time passed I was always interested but felt it was something outside of my abilities, both financial and the technical part of navigation (I still don't believe how easy navigation is) so I never pursued it. I just enjoyed flying on business trips and vacations.

A little over two years ago, I feared I had cancer, and our marriage was not very healthy either. I didn't have cancer thank God! The experience changed my outlook on life for the better. While in a book store I was looking at the magazine rack and came across "Ultralight Flying" magazine and picked one up. I became obsessed with learning more! Gee, maybe I can afford to do this. My spouse was not happy.

Ground School
For Christmas 1999, I received an intro to flying lesson and another one hour lesson from my "not so happy about me wanting to flying spouse"! :) I went to the airport and took the intro flight on a cold dreary January day. While talking with the guy behind the counter, he points to a flyer for ground school through the local community college which he was teaching. Sign me up! Ten weeks of Saturday mornings for 5 hrs - my spouse was not happy. In the middle of the class, Trevor mentioned that we should all be getting our medicals, as it was required to solo which a few in the class were about ready to do. I start looking into it and ... oh no, I can't get a medical until 6 mo after stopping this stuff I started taking back when I thought I was really sick :( I had planned to start flying lessons in March or April, now I needed to push that out to September.

I passed the written test in late March 2000. I spent a lot of lunch hours taking tests through Kip's FAA Written test page which really helped a lot (Thank You Kip)! It was about that time that I came across this News Group. I have read a lot of the discussions, and followed a lot of the links to find some very good information - too many to list, and I thank all of you. I really appreciate the nearly flame free nature of the group!

Choose an Instructor
At CVO, there are two FBOs. I had lots of time to figure out who to use.After a couple more intro to flying flights, and looking at the condition of the aircraft, it became clear that I needed to join the OSU flying club. The planes are not new, but are well maintained.

My mother fell in August and broke her hip, and soon after that God had mercy and called her home. God had called my father home 9 months earlier. They were in their 80's, and had both been in poor health for several years.  I had prepared myself for this time, and it still took a toll on me - the passing of a generation.

Our marriage started becoming healthy again. It could be that my white knuckle flyer control freak spouse gained back some respect when I continued to pursue flying over her objections. I know there is more to it than that.  Most of the instructors who were available in May moved on over the summer.

Time to Start Lessons!
In late October I started lessons with Tim. Tim is a very experienced pilot and instructor. His easy going manner was a great fit for me. As the head pilot, he could be called to fly charter flights any time though - meaning canceled lessons at the last minute. Winter in the Willamette Valley is normally filled with many days of rain and low ceiling and visibility. This was a mild winter, with much better than average weather - only a few weather cancellations. My instructor ended up with pneumonia in late December, missing a couple of weeks. I managed to fly one of my scheduled lessons with Vince, a part time instructor.

January 19, 2001 I finally soloed! 19 hrs, 77 landings, number 78 was by myself! At about 9 hrs I thought I was about ready to solo, at 12 hrs I was sure I wasn't. On the day, we did three landings and taxied back. Tim
signed my log book and got out. I try to start the plane - won't start! Yes, I had forgotten how to start the plane - what is that step "mixture rich?" Once off and going, it was one landing only - a little long as
expected with less weight.

I had been signed off for five airports within my 25 mile radius, and once given permission to leave CVO, it was off to Lebanon (S30). Into the pattern, on to final and wow that is small! CVO 17-35 is 5900x150, S30 is 3000x60! This was a test of courage, I figured I could always go around if things weren't right. I hadn't been there for about two months. The landing was fine.

Cross Country Time
CVO-SLE-MMV-4S9-CVO - Set up and ready to go and Tim is sick again. Set up for the next week, he is still sick, but Vince is available - so off we go. This was a very busy trip, in the air, open the flight plan, mark the checkpoints call the tower and land - stop and go at SLE and off to MMV - where is that landmark? There's the airport. Tour the Flight Service Center and off to Mulino, a little cross wind, then a strong gust in the flare. I had very little cross wind experience, the only bad thing I can say about learning at CVO with runways 17-35 and 9-27.

Night cross country CVO-HIO-SLE-S12-CVO. Follow the VOR's, fly simulated instrument - what a struggle at first - can't see the top of the direction indicator - chase the VOR - oh yea, helps to keep the plane level. Over the Newburg VOR into HIO, now where is this place? A dark area in a sea of lights? Mike finally spotted the runway as we were on right base and ready to turn final (how did we do that?). It was a beautiful night with 15 knot gusting winds at HIO, but not much as we headed back south. Mike is another instructor who needed night flying time to log. He did a great job, and did a lot to straighten out the difficulties I was still having with landing consistency.

Solo Cross Countries
CVO-UAO-HIO-7S5-CVO I really don't believe the cloud levels from any source any more. I should have been in great shape at 3500', but felt like I was just legal at 2500'. UAO was busy, HIO was still hard to find and busy, overall a stressful but good trip.

CVO-EUG-RBG-CVO Racked up the needed solo tower landings and a little right hand pattern work at EUG, then off to RBG. The weather report predicted the cloud cover would lift to 6000' by late afternoon - so much for predictions. South of EUG the cloud cover was complete at about 3000', and the further south the lower it got. I considered turning around, but visibility was good and the time of day was right. Into RBG, the standard pattern entry for 34 is over a hill at about 300 agl! Yikes! In for the best landing I had made up to that time. It is a good thing I know that area or it would have been much more difficult, I lived there in 72 & 73. Stop for a break and a drink of water and back to CVO. What a great experience!

I struggled with choosing which instructor I should finish up with. I decided to go with Mike - now to schedule, one of the club 152's was gone for the next week thus the times that work for me were already booked so we take the FBO's 152, the beast N666 03. Not anyone's favorite airplane, it has had one too many hard landings. More delays, more plane shortages, a lot of new students, and tax time. Now lets schedule with the examiner. Again missing plane, though this time one was out getting the interior redone. At last a day is scheduled about two weeks out.

The Checkride
Lee, the examiner, is a great guy. I believe he truly enjoys his work. The oral went real well, a few questions I couldn't answer right off, but he was happy (no trick questions). Then lets go fly - N89439 was in desperate need of service and was in getting an oil change and plugs cleaned while I was doing the oral. There was a little confusion over the planes log books with this work, just to add a little stress. I was getting a little burned out. A few questions about the airplane. Got the question about how the wing stalls backwards, then what kind of flaps are these? I went blank - a guess, Fowler? Close, but not quite - a hint, ah yes slotted. Yea that tweaked my stress meter a little, when was I going to go blank again?.

As we taxied out, I made what I consider to be a couple of small errors. "What does that "A" on that sign mean"? Uuuh, that's an information sign. "How about that sign, what does that "A" mean"? Oh yea this is taxi way alpha. Yes I was getting myself in trouble mentally. Take off, simulate opening flight plan and divert to 7S5. All is going ok, not perfect, in for a landing, flare - stall and hard landing. For some reason I have a real hard time keeping my depth perception at Independence. "Do a soft field take off" I read the check list for a short field take off, take off doing a soft short field takeoff, the stall horn chirps while climbing at 54 in this plane - Lee is not happy, and I am getting more nervous. Back around for a soft field landing, and he says make it a touch and go. Independence is 3000', I really blew the soft field landing - automatic mode kicks in - oh well I think to myself, lets get the touch and go part - I can't believe I blew the landing that bad and gee this doesn't feel quite right as I notice his hand reach down and retract the flaps! Well I knew it was over even though he didn't say so at the time, we kept going. I relaxed a little, failing twice in one day is the same as failing once. I was worried about doing the instrument part, no problem. I could have picked a better emergency landing field, ground ref. was good, slow flight not so good (altitude crept up a little too much). Short field landing back at CVO, not pretty, but short! Sorry Mike! I was the first not to pass on the first try for him (out of 14 I believe).

It was a good lesson. I followed a request to do something I really couldn't do unless I hit it perfect, soft field landing touch and go on 3000'. I failed by not saying "no" (not to mention the flaps!). Never again will I just take for granted that I can do what is asked of me.

May 2, 2001, Lee was going to be back at CVO and would like to take care of me and the instrument student that followed me the week before. Again no club planes, so I take the beast N66603. It flies different, but two
landings, a normal and a soft field and we were done. And yes I was almost a nervous as the first check ride - about a nervous as I will be when I take my spouse up for the first time! :)

My first passenger was my 17yr old son. Ouch! It hurts to admit my son is that old! He loved it!

I wish to thank all of you for the insight I have gained from reading your posts, my instructors, and especially my family for their patience, love and support!
Roy Gust PP-ASEL
60hrs ~270 landings!

Checkride # 16
I've learned a lot in the last few months, flew the C152 in all kinds of conditions, got 98% on my FAA written, kicked myself a few times for being consistently inconsistent, and sought consolation and advice from this group and from net-friends and web sites. In spite of winter weather delays and business trips, I finally completed all the requirements. So I decided to go for the Big One: my private pilot check ride! My CFI and the chief flight instructor said I was ready. But even with 88 hours TT (24 solo), I wasn't all that sure!
I got a late start this morning due to my flight instructor remembering something at the last minute. I flew myself down from Worcester to Pawtucket (SFZ, North Central RI Airport, about a 20 minute flight from Worcester, barely north of the PVD Class C) just in time for my 9 am appointment with the DE. The paperwork and oral part of the exam went very well, with a lot of emphasis on runway incursions, airspace questions, aircraft systems, etc and not much on FAR's. I was pretty solid on that stuff. 

But I was worried about the flight test part because the air was very bumpy and I was getting bounced all around on the way down (plus my practice in similar conditions the last few days had not really been my best flying). Examiners must understand this and I guess I did OK after all. He didn't ask me to do as many maneuvers or landings (just 3) as I expected, but I'm not complaining (I think he had an appointment or something - he seemed a bit rushed).

One interesting distraction was the sky divers jumping over the airport from 10,000 feet - about 6 of them came down as I was doing my first time around the pattern -- I was concerned, but they can steer around the airplanes, and nothing I could do but keep my eyes open and fly the airplane anyway.

The instrument part of the test (with foggles) was pretty hard due to all the bouncing around from the turbulence -- I had plus or minus 200 feet to play with in altitude, and I think I used most of it! He didn't have me do a simulated engine-out emergency which was surprising. Did the first two check points of the planned x-country (to LEB, NH). Slow flight, stalls, VOR work.

No ground reference, no steep turn. Strange. I was ready for all of it and did what was asked. The final landing was on a different runway, with a gusty cross-wind. My approach was also a little low, and I made a last-second correction but held the centerline pretty well. The DE said "you just caught that one." I turned off at the first taxiway, and he said, "well, you're a private pilot." He didn't say "good job" or anything and I didn't feel it was a great job. He said "it was pretty bumpy up there, but you have to fly with what you get - if you only fly on smooth days around here you won't fly much." He also commented that I seemed tense on the landings and needed to be smoother with my rudder work. True in part, but some days are tenser than others!

When we walked in the FBO, I was surprised to find my brother there waiting in the office - he took a bunch of digital camera pix (he and the wife conspired to say he was in Pennsylvania this week so I never expected him to be in RI). This led to a tough PIC decision. He was hoping to be my first passenger, which would have been cool. But he's a big guy, 240 lbs. I checked the tanks and did a rough weight and balance with my 192 lbs. and it was no-go for a C152. I didn't think my first act as a private pilot should be to take off over gross weight. So he will wait until I get checked out in the Piper Warrior in the club I joined. Sorry bro! Safety first.

The flight back to Worcester was REALLY bumpy, and I even flew through a brief rain shower. I'm glad I didn't stay later since the clouds were getting lower and winds picking up (even though I had to pass on lunch with my brother).

That's my news! This just goes to show that if you keep your childhood dream for, oh I don't know, 35 years or so, it may eventually come true! I'm actually a private pilot now -- whoa. Does the FAA know about this? Yup, they do!
Bruce Irving

Checkride # 17
It took me forever to find a DE that wasn't busy or on vacation to do my checkride. When I did find someone, I would have to do the oral on Sat. and the checkride on Sun., both were scheduled at 5:00pm. I decided not to tell my girlfriend of 5 years when the dates were because I would be nervous enough without her asking if I was nervous, constantly.

Sat.: Oral was fairly straightforward. First, I had to calculate DA, take-off climb, and takeoff distance to clear 50 ft obstacle, all using the current weather. Also, I did a weight and balance. We went over the cross-country that he had me plan. Next, we talked about maps. First airspace, then map symbols. We touched on SVFR conditions, and when they would apply. Learn your maps, you will need to know it. After that we moved on to a few subjects about aircraft maintenance. Such as transponder inspections, ELT inspections, AD's, a little on the 100 hour/annual. At that point, he said that we would pick it up tomorrow.

Sun: When I got to the airport, I met up with the DE, and headed out to the plane. I was an aircraft mechanic in the military a number of years ago. The DE might have known this, since he stood back a distance while I was performing the pre-flight. (When I was a mechanic, I helped pilots do a few 1000 pre-flights.) When I was done, all he asked was how much gas, and how much oil.

We jumped in the plane and headed out. The first thing I was to do is a soft field takeoff, a trip around the pattern, then a normal landing. The soft field takeoff was smooth. Now, I was feeling like I could pull this off. While on final, he asked for a go around, and another trip around the pattern. This time on final, he said to go ahead with a normal landing. I greased it, damn, now I really am happy and gaining confidence.

Next up, I was to fly the first leg of the cross-country that I planned. We got about 10 miles from the airport, and he said it was time to put the hood on. While under the hood, I had to track towards my first checkpoint. After that, we did turns, descents, and climbs under the hood. Also, while under the hood he wanted to know what direction a certain VOR was in. I figured that out, and gaining more confidence the whole time. After taking the hood off, it was time for slow flight. He wanted 55 knots, (C-152) in a clean configuration. Normally, I practiced slow flight with full flaps, and at 45 knots. During slow flight, I had to do turns, back and forth several times. One turn was 185 degrees, which felt like forever to do. After slow flight it was on to stalls. First up, power on in a 10 degree right bank. Nailed it. Second, straight-ahead power off. Got that one, too. Next was a steep turn to the left. That went without a problem.

Next he pulled the throttle for the simulated engine out. I picked a field that was not the best, but it was OK. Next after all this, he took out a map and asked where we were. After thinking for a minute I figured it out. He wanted a turn around a point next. This one was the only thing that I was really worried about, since some of my ToP are not the best, but I nailed this one. After the ToP, I did S turns. He then said go back to the airport,
and do a short field landing over a 50ft. obstacle. By this time, the winds had shifted, now it was a direct crosswind at 9 knots. I greased that one, too. I never felt better. At this point, he said that he had seen enough, and if I could get him to the ramp unharmed, I would be a private pilot. I almost peed myself I was so happy.

I shut the plane down, and handed him all of my paperwork. He went in to type up my temporary certificate. At this point, I saw my girlfriend walking towards the plane. She asked how many more weeks it would be before I was a private pilot. I told her in about 15 minutes. The look on her face was priceless. She took me out to dinner that night, and I have not stopped smiling since.

Checkride #18
Kevin's Checkride

Monday 2001-Jul-30
"Denton Traffic, Skyhawk 9635H, taking the active 17, southeast departure, Denton"

It was a variation of a radio call that I'd made seemingly hundreds of times before, but this time it was different - it was my first takeoff as a newly-licensed Private Pilot.

I woke up this morning at 3:30 (which is 30 minutes before the time. I'd set the alarm clocks for). I decided to use the extra time to drive down to the local 7-11 and pick up the morning Super Big Gulp of Diet Coke. I'd set my alarm so early so that I could get up and do all of the flight planning steps that you do when you know what the weather is going to be like on the day of the flight - winds and temperature affect ground speed and compass headings, takeoff and landing distances, etc. So, I got back from 7-11 and did all this pre-flight planning and calculating - finishing up around 5:30 (you know I double-checked everything, so that took extra time). After that, I jumped in the shower and headed off to the airport. I got the plane preflighted and pulled out of its parking spot and headed off to Denton (DTO), where the checkride was scheduled to take place.

I'd been a little nervous about the checkride because one of my maneuvers wasn't really as good as I wanted it to be. Dee (my instructor) and I got together three times over the previous four days to do "Checkride Prep" - where we went through three complete checkrides - doing every maneuver that I'd be required to perform and every takeoff and landing type that I'd be required to do.

 Some days, the Problem Maneuver was better than others were. The maneuver in question is called "Steep Turns" - where you bank the plane 45 degrees and go-around in a tight little circle while maintaining your altitude +/- 100 feet. Maybe it sounds easy, maybe it doesn't - but it's not easy - at least I don't find it easy - I always seem to end up losing AT LEAST a hundred feet of altitude during this maneuver. And on the three practice checkrides, the Steep Turns maneuver was always marginal at best. So, this had me worried. Technically, if you fail any one maneuver, you fail the test.

The checkride actually consists of two parts - the Oral Exam and the Flight-Test (the part where you actually get in the airplane and fly around). The Oral Exam covers all aspects of flying and lasted about an hour. It was *very* thorough. The 100% I made on my Written Test back in June didn't seem to make the Oral Exam any less thorough or rigorous. But, there was a kitty in the room (named Senaca - one of two airport mascot kitties (other named "Piper")) and she kept nibbling on my fingers and being pretty cute, so that helped to relax me and maybe kept me from getting flustered and fumbling any of my answers. I pretty much *nailed* the Oral Exam. I only had to look up one thing (it's to some extent an open book test - you've got most of the resources in front of you - but it's considered bad form to have to look everything up - they expect you to have committed the vast majority of the information to memory). The thing I had to look up is the maximum gross weight for my airplane. I was embarrassed that I didn't know that right off-hand (a moment of brain-lock), but I knew exactly where to go to look it up in my plane's Operating Handbook, so all was good.

So, we then moved to the airplane where the flight portion of the checkride would take place. I did a complete pre-flight again - where you check all the various parts of the airplane to ensure that it'll get up in the air and stay there until you mean for it to touch land again. He also walked around the airplane poking and prodding to ensure that it was in airworthy condition. I guessed it met his satisfaction when halfway through my pre- flight, he climbed in and buckled up. In that it was 340 degrees out on the asphalt ramp (and inside the plane, which had been sitting in the sun for the previous two hours), I personally would have waited until I was done with my pre-flight before getting into the plane, but that's me. Even though him climbing in caused me to feel some pressure to hurry up and finish my pre-flight, I didn't - I did it as efficiently and methodically as I do on every other flight I take.

I climb in and state "I declare this airplane in airworthy condition" (something I have always done, for some reason) and he says "good, let's go". I ask him if he has any questions about the passenger briefing information I'd printed out (from and he said "No - consider me briefed". As I'm going through the Engine Start checklist, I ask him if wants to hear the "running commentary" that I normally do as I go through my checklists or if he'd prefer me to keep quiet - he said he had no preference - thus my commentary he endured. So, I start the engine, get the local automated weather report, and taxi to the end of the runway for my runup (a pre-takeoff engine and instrument check) and takeoff.

The first takeoff is the Short Field Takeoff - useful when you're at an airport with a short runway. With this type of takeoff, you run up the engine while holding the brakes on. When the engine is at full power, you release the brakes and off you go. It must be something like what the pilot of an airplane on an aircraft carrier feels like when being launched - because the acceleration is quite intense. The nose pops up a little when you release the brakes and you have to have to be ready on the rudder pedals to ensure you track down the center of the runway. When you hit the appropriate speed, you lift up and fly off at a speed, which will get you over any obstacles at the end of the runway - obstacles real or imaginary (as is the case at DTO). This went really well. And so we were off!

We exited the pattern and headed for the first checkpoint on my cross- country trip (which was to Tulsa - but we only went as far as a little town to the north called "Sangar" (my first checkpoint), which is about 8 miles north of Denton - so we didn't get very far). This part of the checkride confirms that you know how to find your checkpoint and that you hit your checkpoint within five minutes of your Estimated Time. At 3000' MSL, he had me level out, whereas I'd calculated a slower climb up to 6500'. You go faster when you're not climbing. So, I had told him that we'd be early since my calculations were for a 12-minute climb up to 6500' - and he said that'd be fine. I was still only about 90 seconds early, so I was within range of the test's standards.

Next, he told me that weather was closing in up front (not really - but it's just an exercise) - and that I should track to the Bowie VOR (a VOR is a radio station on the ground which planes can fly to/from based upon the signals emitted by the VOR). So, I tuned in the Bowie VOR, determined the heading I'd need, and turned towards the Bowie VOR. We tracked that heading for about a minute.

Next, we turned back to the south and he had me put the foggles on. "Foggles" are also known as "View Limiting Devices" - they are frosted at the top so you can't see out the window and clear at the bottom so that you can see your instruments. They're used to simulate flying in the clouds - which you are trained for so that in the event you unexpectedly fly into a cloud; it doesn't mean your immediate demise. That said, as a Private Pilot (non-instrument rated), I'm not supposed to fly into clouds on purpose. So, he has me make some turns to different headings - I'm amused that he's playing "The ATC Game" - a game that I came up with for my instructor and I to "play" early on in my flying career to get me used to talking to the various Air Traffic Control (ATC) agencies that I'd be talking with. She'd be ATC and give me an instruction and I'd be playing Me, The Pilot, and have to conform to the instruction and read it back to her (ATC). So, he was giving me headings and altitudes to fly as if I was instructed to do so by ATC. I played along (I guess I was supposed to?), and always read back the instruction to him while turning to the heading or changing altitudes.

Next, foggles still on, he put the plane into various "Unusual Attitudes" - climbing or descending - and also turning right or left. He put the plane into this attitude while my eyes were closed and my head was turned to the side. So, after having thoroughly screwed up my straight-and-level flight attitude, he'd announce "it's your airplane", and I'd turn the unusual attitude into a usual attitude (straight and level again). We did that for a couple of different combinations - those went really well and I didn't even get queasy, as I'm prone to do during this type of exercise.

Next, we did Steep Turns - The Dreaded Maneuver. I'd practiced this in my head (called "chair flying") so much over the weekend that it actually went pretty well. I did lose some altitude on the turn to the right, but not as much as I was losing on Saturday - and on the turn to the left, I did that without losing any altitude. (Later, he was to heard to declare - in his post-flight briefing - "your steep turns aren't very good". I wanted to say "hey, you should have seen them *Saturday* - you'd think we were on *rails* up there today!" - but I kept quiet and acknowledged that they still needed some work (I know it - he knows it - no use in trying to BS him otherwise)).

Next, he had me enter Slow Flight - where you slow the plane waaaaay down and fly it at this reduced speed. Under the right conditions (a strong headwind), you can look down while in slow flight and cars on the highway are going faster than you. So, I pull the power, bleed off some speed, put down all my flaps, and finally arrive at my target speed, at which time you have to add in a lot of power to keep the plane flying at that speed. He has me turn to some headings (again, playing The ATC Game) and then hold a heading for a while. When you're in slow flight, the plane - if it's bumpy outside (and it was) - gets bumped around a lot and maintaining a heading is not an exact science - but I think I did really good at this in spite of the bumps.

So, we then recover from Slow Flight (i.e. we speed up), and then he asks for a Power-Off Stall - so I again enter Slow Flight, and once there, pull the power completely and slowly and steadily pull the nose up - which is a great way to induce a stall. So, it stalls and the nose is then pointing down at which time you initiate a recovery. Which I did, very nicely I might add. Only lost about 50 feet of altitude on this and my heading never wavered. I remembered how hard I thought stalls were early on - how hard to keep the altitude and heading right on, and how scary they were to actually perform. Those days are long gone - stalls no longer scare me and I'm pretty good at stalling and recovering from them.

The next stall he wanted to see is the Power-On stall - where you do almost the same procedure - enter Slow Flight, but add full power and pull the nose up like you're taking off - and induce a stall like that. Since you've got full power, your nose is very high and this used to *really* freak me out. But I did great on this too - ecovering with minimal altitude loss (easy to do since you were climbing when you added full power) and no change in heading.

It was about this time that I realized I was having a *great* flight (well, except for those steep turns) and all that was left, I was pretty good at, so my confidence was growing that I'd be flying home a Private Pilot.

Next, he told me to do an emergency descent - so I banked the plane and pushed the nose down to get down as fast as I could without tearing any wings off. While descending, I notice a plane flying around about a thousand feet below me (one reason you bank the plane at the start of this maneuver is to look for traffic below). When I point this out to the examiner, he says - okay, you've shown me an emergency descent - show me an engine out landing. So - still watchful of the traffic which is now flying away from us and no longer a factor - I pull the throttle out (simulating an engine failure) and immediately set the plane up so that it will glide the farthest distance it can (as you've all heard me proclaim, if the engine quits, the airplane just becomes a glider), and find a field that I can land in. Having located a nice field up ahead, I do my cockpit checks (to ensure the engine didn't stop for something silly like the fuel tank knob turned off or something) and even remembered to make the (simulated) Mayday call on the radios (something I don't always remember to do when my instructor and I are simulating an engine-out situation). So, I make the field and about a hundred feet above ground, he tells me to recover and climb out again.

He then had me find a road to do my S-Turns over. In this maneuver, you turn the plane in an S-turn about a road - making equal half-circles on either side of the road. The trick of this maneuver is to make the S-turns while accounting for the way the wind pushes you - and still make the half- circles equal in size and shape. I think I'm pretty good at these and they were no problem today - although he suggested that the maneuver was easier if I didn't make such tight circles about the road. Maybe I was making Steep Turns About a Road...

Next was the maneuver called "Turns Around a Point" - where you find a little pond or road intersection or something and make a couple of nice circles around it. On my TAaP to the left, I picked a spot where two little dirt roads intersected and flew around that. It kind of cracked me up to discover that at the center of the crossroad, there was an old tractor. I don't know why I found that funny - it wasn't nearly as funny as discovering the pond that I was flying around on Saturday had a cow in it - and by the time I had made my requisite two turns around, there were four cows in the pond. Maybe cows don't like airplanes. Anyway, I found another spot to make my right TAaP around and that went just as well. I had the GPS unit hooked up ("just for additional situational awareness") and I caught him looking at that a lot during these maneuvers. The "breadcrumb" trail on the GPS showed just the most perfect little circles - which means I was doing an awesome job of making my circles in the 10 knot wind from the south (which is the whole point of this exercise as well - to be able to adjust your flight path to account for wind). He even commented how the GPS breadcrumb trail was pretty interesting for maneuvers like this - I told him that helped me practice the maneuver.

Next, he told me "find the airport and take us back" - so all the airwork was done - now I just had to do the various landings and takeoffs required. I immediately spot the airport and head for it. The first landing was the Short Field Landing - same deal as the takeoff - you presume a short runway (or a runway with a 50' obstacle just before the runway). Well, he said 'you don't have a (fictitious) obstacle - just put the plane down on the '17' (numbers)". So, I said "okay" while inside I was quietly panicking that my instructor and I hadn't done this particular variation much. So, I did my damndest, but still ended up waaaaay past the numbers. Another thing to add to my list of things to work on.

So, once on the runway - he said "okay, now make a Soft Field Takeoff". The point of this takeoff is if you're taking off from a grass or dirt runway, you want to protect your landing gear, since these kinds of fields are pretty tough on landing gear (particularly the nose wheel). So, I give it the gas and pull up on the nose to try to protect it from our "pretend" soft runway. The plane will take off from the runway before it's really ready to fly (a phenomenon called "Ground Effect" allows this to happen) - so once you're off, you have to hold the plane in ground effect (within about 10 feet of the ground) until it builds up enough speed to fly away. So, this went really well - much better than the practice soft field takeoffs we were doing during the practice sessions (which were still good - just not great).

Next came a Soft Field Landing - same mission - protect the landing gear - especially the nosewheel. So, the goal is to land as softly as you can, and hold off the nosewheel for as long as you can. So, I do this - it wasn't especially soft, but it wasn't especially hard either - but I did hold the nosewheel off the runway and it set down very gently. In my opinion, all landings should be soft-field landings - so I anticipate practicing this a lot.

So, then we took off again and flew around, and he wanted to see a "Touch and Go". So, I flew around the pattern and when I was about ten feet off the ground, he ATC Game'd me and told me to "go around", so I gave it the gas and pulled up and flew the pattern again - where he told me to make this landing a "full stop - slip to a landing" style of landing - meaning we'd be parking the airplane after this landing. This is another style of landing that Dee and I didn't work on very much - but I gave it my best and slipped pretty nicely - but we were still pretty fast on the landing. Not one of my better landings, but it was passable. So, I taxied off the runway and headed for the parking ramp.

I felt pretty confident that I was going to get my license at this point - I knew the Steep Turns weren't great, and the Short Field Landing wasn't all that short - but I felt that overall, I'd done really very well. Being impatient, I asked him as we were taxiing back - "so, how does it look". It was then that he gave me the stinging "your steep turns aren't very good and your short field landing was pretty long" comment - but he added "but everything else was good so we'll go back and fill you out a temporary license" (the permanent one is mailed from the FAA in about 60 days). I think I said "excellent!" - but I don't really remember - bliss does that to a person.

So, we got back and he issued me a "Temporary Airman Certificate" - which makes me - officially - a Private Pilot.

And after that, I flew back home to Addison (ADS)... "Denton Traffic, Skyhawk 9635H, taking the active 17, southeast departure, Denton" - my first takeoff as a "real" pilot.

Funny that on the way home, I was on a long final approach to land, and there was a plane that the tower controller was trying to get in to land in front of me, so I had to do a "steep 360 to the right for spacing" - which means I had to do a steep turn in order to give the plane in front of me time to land and be off the runway before I arrived. On this particular steep turn, I lost no altitude. It was excellent and kind of an ironic and fitting conclusion to my day of flying.(Comment by Gene: Such turns should not exceed 30-degrees in the pattern)

And so, that's the story of my checkride. I felt very well tested - and I felt that I did really good on the test - so I trust the system the produces pilots and the system that licenses pilots. And I also feel competent to take people up in the airplane with me (just don't ask for any steep turns and we'll all get along fine!). In all seriousness, it's not something you ever stop learning about - ever stop training for - so I definitely see myself continuing to go up and practice the areas where I'm still a little rough and maintaining proficiency in the other maneuvers as well.

I've also started ordering books that I'll use to study for my Instrument Rating - which I'll officially start this fall.

All in all - pressure and nervousness aside - it was a fun day - and I'm a pretty happy camper right about now. And so, New Year's Resolution #1 accomplished!
Kevin; PP-ASEL ("Private Pilot - Aircraft-Single Engine-Land")

Checkride # 19
The following is a report from my recent PP-ASEL checkride. I know how many reports like this helped me, so I'll do my best on this. It late, I'm tired, so I know I will leave things out. Just e-mail me with any questions you might have.

Before I get started I would like to touch on one subject. Just because I live and fly in Las Vegas, Elvis was not my DE. Siegfried gave me the checkride and Roy was my instructor.

Two days before the exam I was told by the DE that I should plan a x-country to Cedar City, Utah (CDC - 130 miles away). On the first leg of the trip I should compute the weight and balance for myself, and three passengers weighing 130lbs, 110lbs, and 120lbs. Also there would be baggage weighing 25lbs. Once at CDC I would drop the 120lb person of and pick a 150lb person up. I had the option of getting fuel if I thought it was necessary (I did).

This was a simple flight plan that would take some careful calculation of the CG. Contrary to what people told me, all the weights were within limits. But, I would need to get gas to stay in the 30-minute reserve time. I opted to make the 30-minute reserve into a 1-hour reserve for my personal preferences - this impressed him.

The test was scheduled (I use the term loosely) for Friday, August 24 at 4pm. The DE said that we would begin the oral portion at 4 and the checkride at 7pm. The day before I meet with my instructor and got the necessary endorsements in my log and the FORM 8710-1 and to go over any final questions.

In case you don't know the 8710-1 is a form from the FAA that breaks down all your personal information and flight hours. It basically a sheet that the DE can look at to see if you meet the flying requirements needed for the PPL.

I arrived at the airport (KVGT-North Las Vegas) around noon to begin my flight preparation. I was pretty nervous. I barely slept the night before and had trouble eating my breakfast that morning. No matter how many people told me I would be fine, I was still nervous as hell.

The DE was there already giving instruction (he is an instructor at the FBO also) so I touched base with him. After confirming our 4pm appt., I went and printed out the DUAT WX report and went to a quiet room. Once in the room I made the necessary flight plan adjustment for wind. Since it was only 12:30 I could not get the temp reading for my destination at 7pm, so the density and pressure altitudes were left out of the plan. I also left the t/o distance and landing distance.

About 2 p.m. there was a knock on the room door and the DE stuck his head in and asked if I wanted to get started early. I told him that everything was ready except for the DA, PA, and RWY distances. He said that we would talk about that later. It was time.

The DE explained that we would be doing the checkride before the sit down oral because the plane was available now. I called for fuel and showed him my necessary paperwork (8710, logbook, written score sheet, and the check for $250.00). After he accepted all the paperwork he went over the rules of the test. After some questions he asked if I was ready to begin.

The first thing we went over was my flight plans. I pulled out the maps, plotter, E6B, the POH and all other info that was used in the flight plan. I walked him through each step of the flight, how I picked the route and why I picked it. Be sure to point out alternate a/p's along the way, elevations, towers, and the airspace's you will pass through.

Let me stop and give some advice. I found that if I acted like I was teaching a student it made things go easier. I acted like I was explaining a flight plan to someone that had never seen one before. This made me feel comfortable and very confident. The DE seemed to feel good with this system.

Once the flight had been briefed we walked out to the airplane. I began pre-flighting the aircraft in my normal manner. Every few moments he would ask a question about the aircraft. Some of the question he asked are listed below.
Why are you checking the rivets?
What types of flaps are these?
Where is the static port?
What is the pit./stat. system?
Tell me about the Vacuum System?
What type of fuel does the plane use and why should you not use a lower grade?
What type of engine and how many HP?
What are the different radios for?
If you have a checklist, stick to it!

Once in the a/c I continued as usual. I got ATIS, Clearance, and taxied to the run-up area. The whole time I pretended I was "instructing." We taxied to the rwy and he asked for a short field t/o. Once in the air we began to follow the flight plan. MAKE SURE YOU LOOK AT A CLOCK AND SEE WHAT TIME YOU TOOK OFF! At the first waypoint he wanted me to tell how long it took, calculate our actual ground speed and tell him if I underestimated or overestimated the route in relation to time and speed. Like an idiot, I forgot to get the time, so I estimated. I admitted my mistake and we continued.

About 30 minutes into the flight he stated that our destination was fogged in and we would be diverting to an alternate. He picked an alternate airport and told me to find distance, heading, and ETA. Really, fly the airplane, and then find the information. The DE tries to overload you with tasks to see how you handle yourself. You made it this far and you've multi-tasked before, so just relax. You would not be in the plane taking your checkride if you weren't capable of passing.

Once to the alternate we did a short field landing, go around, x-wind t/o, and a x-wind landing. Remember use all checklists. Have a before landing, landing, and clear of the active checklist. Before every t/o I would brief him on the abort t/o procedure. Remember, if you are going to go off the end of the rwy, pull the mixture and STOP THE PROP!

Once we were back in the air he picked a water tower and asked me to do turns around a point. The hardest part of this was getting between 600-1000ft AGL. You need to look at the map and find out the altitude for the surrounding area and make your maneuvering alt. selection. Remember, enter on the downwind and make a left turn first. S-Turn came next. Basically, the same procedures as the turns around a point. Watch your speed and altitude.

Hood work was next. When I put the hood on the DE switched to a local COM frequency that had tons of chatter. This was an obvious distraction, but you MUST FLY THE AIRCRAFT FIRST! The hood work lasted about 5 minutes. It consisted of turns, unusual attitude, and level flight.

Stalls and steep turns we the final tasks, and were the easiest. The only advice I can give is to watch your altitude. You won't fail if 200 ft high or low and your correcting it, but you will fail if you continue to stay to high or low.

Once done we headed home and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Throughout the whole checkride the DE was asking me questions that were on the oral portion . The following is a partial list of questions that were asked in-flight and back on the ground.

What do the tower light signals mean?
PPL requirements and limitations?
Airspace VFR minimums, airspace size, and what it looks like on a map?
What are hypoxia, spatial disorientation, and hyperventilation?
Drug and Alcohol policy?
VFR minimum equipment?
Emergency scenarios?
Oxygen requirements?

There are plenty more. Just read the PTS and Oral Exam Guide. After approximately 30 minutes of questions on the ground I was done, and passed. Just Relax! All the information you will need to pass is already inside your head just look for it. Don't let your nervousness cloud your mind.
I hope this helps.
Nick in Vegas PP-ASEL

Thursday, September 27, 2001
The day started out like the others this week. Low, fast scud and chilly. Walking to the garage, a light rain fell. My checkride was scheduled for 10:00 am. I had made the difficult decision, after the horror in NYC and subsequent flying restrictions that I was going to complete the process, if weather and the FAA allowed. I was present at Phil Boyer's Town Meeting when he was interrupted by a cell phone call that announced VFR privileges were restored. Elation had turned to dismay when he added, "No training flights allowed."

AOPA's President promised to fight to restore all privileges, and witnessing his sincerity that night, I decided to keep the date with the DE. Sure enough, the Saturday prior to my CheckRide (CR), the restriction was lifted. That weekend, though, I was hundreds of miles away from my trainer. It was only the night before the CR that I had a chance to get in the plane and fly.

It was that last solo flight, that gave me the calm and confidence I was looking for so desperately the day before my checkride. The DE wants to see you are a SAFE pilot. Being a conservative pilot by nature, it dawned on me: "I know my maneuvers, and I know how to be safe. I'll be sure the DE sees that. I may be a little rusty from the recent downtime, but he'll know that too."

Told to present myself and plane for inspection at Fairfield Apt. at 10 AM, I headed for my airport. Forecasters had been calling for conditions to improve. By 9:15 they had. I loaded all my documentation, carefully organized in expandable binders with sticky-note tabbed pages in the logbooks, into the plane and headed East.

At 10:30 the oral portion began. Dick was at ease and I could tell he wanted me to pass the exam. He wasn't about to give it away, but he wanted me to feel at ease too and "demonstrate my knowledge", as John King says in his videos.

Let me just stop and say that I highly recommend a student preparing for the checkride to get the King Checkride tape set or something similar. Unless you come from a flying family or have close friends who have done it, it's hard to know what to expect. I relied on them heavily to set the tone for my examination. John and Martha King are probably two of the safest and most knowledgeable pilots, and so I chose to accept his advice on the videos. Of course, as many others have said, your exam won't be as all encompassing as the demonstrations were, but it doesn't hurt to see what can be thrown at you. And besides, watching them fly and demonstrate different landing and takeoff techniques was great fun. (Gosh, I even SOUND like him now!)

We worked our way through the logs, ensuring I had the right number of hours. Then we started on the cross-country. He asked me how I had picked my route and what some of the decisions were I had made. I charted a course via VORs to my destination (in enhanced class B) and told him we would be legal to fly into that Class B according to the latest NOTAMs. We discussed minimum enroute altitudes and diversions. He then advised me I would have to calculate GS during the early portion of the trip (not my strongpoint) and even coached me on what landmarks to use and how to do it when I expressed my uncertainty. He gave me the definite impression that if I didn't do it right, I'd fail.

Next we discussed aeromedical factors such as flying with a head cold or sinus problems, then he asked me about Class B, C , D and E airspace and visibility minimums. We discussed transponder requirements in each, then a little bit about night flying and runway edge lights. I confidently answered: blue omni-directional lighting, and could immediately tell I was wrong so we discussed lighting a little bit. Before I knew it, 1.5 hours had passed and he asked me to finish up the weather and my nav log, and to go preflight the plane. I paused then, because I wanted him to know I was concerned about W&B in the C150 I was flying. He stopped to discuss that with me as well. Again, I was demonstrating safety and knowledge by bringing the subject up.

After 1/ 2 the preflight, he joined me on the ramp. Didn't say much, just watched. I kept a steady focus on my checklist and offered a few pointers as I continued. I showed him the fuel from each sump, and confirmed its color, its smell, and its chalky residue on my fingers. After careful inspection (I don't think he asked me anything about what's this do, etc.) I told him to climb in and get buckled, we were going to fly.

I jumped in and began to ready when I looked outside the plane and realized we were parked face in to a field and I needed to push it back. He laughed and said he'd wondered what I had planned to do. Sheepishly I jumped out (my nerves were beginning to show) and pushed the plane back. At the end of the runway I paused and wondered out loud if the ceiling was adequate for our maneuvers. He told me, "You're the pilot, it's up to you." We then did the math together: clouds 3,400, elevation was 866, PTS requirement for airwork is no lower than 1500 AGL for stalls and steep turns, need to be 500' below the deck. I declared it was ok to fly and prepared for departure.

As I announced my intentions, I brought the lights on and began to roll. There was a 10kt right wind at probably 40deg off the nose, so we had discussed what would happen when we got airborne. I picked up extra speed on the ground run and lifted off promptly, letting the 150 turn her nose into the wind as we gained airspeed and climbed out. Seconds later I realized I had forgotten to record time off! I immediately wrote it down thinking I had added two minutes for climb out and fudge factor. Turning downwind for departure, I picked up my compass heading. I had computed a 96-kt groundspeed. As we crossed the road he wanted me to use he actually said, "Hey, isn't that the road you said you wanted to use?" So I hit start on the stopwatch hanging around my neck. As we climbed to our altitude, I could see Bignut Lake coming into view ahead and to my left. I began to search for the smaller lake I was going to use as my checkpoint. After much searching and telling him what I was doing, what I felt the winds were doing, and his pointing things out on the ground, I finally saw the smaller lake to my right.

Yes! I was on course. When abeam the lake, I hit the stop button on my stopwatch. Now to calculate groundspeed. I asked him to hand me my E6B which was predialed into 96 kts. My calculation came out dead on, which meant I had done it, YEAH! By his reaction, he was nearly as happy as I was.

He then informed me I was lost. What was I going to do? I told him the first thing I' do is start identifying landmarks. Then I'm going to dial in the VOR we're headed for. Not. He immediately reached up spun the dial and said, "Uh oh, your VOR's dead, now what? Clearly that was not the answer he wanted. I told him I'd contact FSS, Approach or 121.5 if I had to. I missed telling him that I would consider climbing, then calling, confessing, and complying. But he was satisfied I could use the radio if I needed. We finished that up by discussing pilotage techniques and then he asked me to divert to another airport. As I turned in that direction I measured the distance and informed him we had enough fuel at current groundspeed. But I wasn't headed in the right direction, so he told me to draw a straight line from the airport down through the lake. Where was I in relation to that line? Well left, and I immediately turned to correct my course.

As we approached and I dialed in ASOS, he told me to turn back around, I'd found it. I reversed course and he took control of the plane and told me to don the foggles. I held a straight course, constant speed turn, climb and descent, then unusual attitude. Satisfied, he told me to put them away. The whole thing took maybe 2/10's to complete.

As we flew straight and level he said, "give me a steep turn in one direction, then the other." I did clearing turns, and immediately banked, adding power as we passed 30 deg. Finishing up the opposite turn, he said, "Look at that! Another plane just flew right below us during our turn!" I was busy rolling out on my heading and was going to look for it when I realized I had more important things to do: FLY the PLANE! I told him I hope he had a good look but didn't turn my head. He didn't say if that was his attempted distraction, but I assume it was. Very realistic.

Then, just as quickly he told me to give him a power off stall. I cleared right, cleared left, and brought the power back to idle. I was working those rudder pedals like crazy, keeping those wings level and those nose coming up. I announced the initial indications, the loss of control effectiveness and then the stall. Recovering, he said, "that was good, give me a power on since we're already in the full power configuration." And I did, using the same technique with the rudders.

Next he pulled the power and said we had an engine failure. Immediately, I announced I was going to get the best glide. Then I pulled Carb Heat on, checked fuel, mixture, switches, etc. I picked a field that looked promising and told him I was going to land into the wind for lowest groundspeed. I circled once, losing altitude the whole time and turned base. I also cleared the engine, telling the DE I didn't want a real emergency.  (RADIO?)

As I made a tight turn to final (it was going to be close and the wind was blowing) I saw a farmer on his John Deer. He was cutting down the corn stalks and had laid out was appeared to be a great runway for us. It looked like one too. Satisfied, he said, "you'll make it" and to recover and fly out. Full power, flaps up in increments and off we went.

Heading back for the airport, he told me to pick a road for S-turns. As I searched for a suitable site, rejecting one that was too close to power lines, I saw a silo. It looked good to me, as I had practiced turns around a silo during my solo training. I told him that I wanted to do that instead and he said, "well, we need to do those too, that's fine." I then explained I was going to maneuver us to get a downwind entry, which seemed to satisfy him. A couple turns there and he told me, "right below you is a road, do an S Turn to the left now!"

And I did, describing what I was doing. I did a total of 1 full S turn and he called it quits, saying, let's go back for some touch and gos. He even helped me find my bearings, telling me to fly an intercept course off the VOR.

He told me he wanted a normal landing first. No problem. I like those. Slipping in to land, it wasn't the prettiest one I'd done. But he asked me to back taxi on the runway and show him a short field takeoff. I explained the technique and off we went.

As we came around making left traffic, he asked for a short field landing. The winds had calmed to around 7-9 kts, and I slipped in. Almost got too low, but I crossed the numbers about 70 ft. Clear of the obstacle, I pulled the power, announcing I was lowering the nose to maintain airspeed. The landing was a little hard and as I pulled up the flaps and jumped on the brakes, the nosewheel shimmied. He told me to let go of the brakes and to give him a soft field takeoff. I didn't have to back taxi, so I must've landed short enough.

Again I explained the technique and performed the maneuver well. As I came around the pattern again he told me to make a soft field landing to a full stop. Uhhmmmm.....we were either done...or we were done. I couldn't look over at him, I was doing my GUMPS check and busy setting up my slow down & descent. I couldn't tell from his tone if he was mad at me (had I scared him?)

Turning back to my tasks late in the downwind pattern, I announced 10 degrees of flaps. I was sickened to see that I had never retracted them from my last takeoff. That was it for me. I'd failed. THAT's why he wanted a full stop landing, I told myself.

I never mentioned the flaps, nor did he. I executed my soft field by sinking the mains in about 4 inches of mud (figuratively, ie it was anything but a SOFT landing). But as I held the nose off, I fessed up to my mistake and told him what and why it had happened. He agreed it was not a soft landing and told me I should have added power at the last second. I agreed and shut up. He told me to taxi in.

The cockpit was silent as I did my mental LIFT and cross-referenced the checklist. As we pulled up to the FBO, he finally spoke. "Well, I'm not going to give you a full debriefing, Greg. You obviously knew the maneuvers very well. I think you did a decent job out there today, although you got very lucky on the cross-country to have picked up your course heading. You were really moving your feet on those stalls, more than anyone I've seen in a long time. I liked it, good job with the stalls. I'm going to head into the office and do some paperwork and I'll see you inside." I wondered, "But did I pass?"

Inside, as I put my things together for the return trip he handed me a white slip of paper. "It's the right color," I told him and he chuckled and said, "Yes, congratulations, you made it."

That was it. I am a pilot. The words I had hoped for, studied and sacrificed for. A feeling of calm. Time to get the weather and fly home. As I walked into my FBO, a lineman asked me, "You make out alright." Not so much a question as a confirmation of fact. Seems everyone knew I was ready. I just had to prove it to myself and a nice DE named Dick.
Gregory R. Hopp, PP-ASEL

My Checkride story
To start I have been one of those lurkers who have followed (and continue to) this newsgroup. And I thank all the people who have posts here for helping me in my pursuit. My checkride story began in the beginning of July. My checkride was originally scheduled in the first week of July. Well that was first of many cancellations. 8 in all. From the plane down for maintenance to lost logbooks (airplane not mine), the DE not being available, my work schedule, to the big one weather.

When the actual day came I was so psyched up I could not stand still. Paced through the FBO until it was time to solo to the airport to meet the DE. Once there everything was in place. I had the plane logs, all my paperwork filled out complete, everything was in order for some time. We sat back in the lounge and did the oral. No surprises (well sort of) there. Mostly on airspace, regs, but a few caught me for a loop on systems. Like, where is the battery, and how many volts is this system.

So after the oral, on to fly but first, check the airplane logs for it's annual, 100 hr, and AD's. Oh ya AD's. Well 2 were not marked off on the logs. Oh well so much for flying today. Come to find out they were 100 hr AD 's that ANYONE could had done and one was fixed with the installation of a part and not marked off.

So, the flight portion was rescheduled and canceled and rescheduled. Finally had the flight and I had so many butterflies and cramps in my stomach. I was reciting the Shepard's prayers that so many of us have done. (Alan Shepard -please don't let me screw up). We started the crosscountry portion then came the diversion. Oh ya the diversion. To an airport on the other side of the chart! Well I got a fairly good direction, time and fuel consumption. Not a realistic diversion, but made ya think.

On to the other stuff in the PTS. Did ok on most the procedures with some suggestions from the DE. But as we were going along I was getting worse and worse. My nerves were at its end. I did not do the best flying. He told me right away we would have to repeat a few things. He asked me if I wanted to continue and I said yes lets finish up on what we have left. I knew I could fly better than this. We only had a few more items in the PTS so we finished. Yes, I got the dreaded pink slip.

So, up I went in the next few weeks with 2 instructors. As I told them, I wanted to get these procedures down pat (emergency landings, ground reference). So, after my last flight (September 10) I was ready to kick butt. Until that dreaded day September 11. So, I waited until yesterday. October 1 will live in my mind until I die. I became a Private Pilot.

So, for all of you out there waiting and learning a few bits of advice. First, REALX!. You have been trained and are ready. You know how to fly the airplane and you have done well enough that your instructor feels you can pass. Second, RELAX Third, RELAX Fourth, RELAX oh and eat something and dont drink so much coffee!!! Ok so I got the point across. Further, if you do get the pink slip, don't worry. One of the things I have learned that every second you are with that CFI is money well spent. In 2 lessons, I learned so much more and was worth the pain of not passing the first time. You WILL be a better pilot and you WILL pass!
Oh one more thing, RELAX! Fly Safe!!
Joe Grandolfo

Checkride 19
I've finally had a chance to post my check ride story.
What a time…My original check ride was scheduled for September 11. I had taken that Monday and Tuesday off from work in preparation for this event that I had been preparing the last year for. I woke up to a national tragedy and a ground stoppage of all aviation. I had been incredibly stressed out about my check ride. I thought I would freeze. Not be able to answer questions, not know what a stall was, or just generally goof it up. With the tragedies of 9/11, the stress of passing the check ride no longer seemed as important.

I called my examiner. He was in shock with the events of the day as well. Obviously we were not flying that day. He did give me the option to do the oral that day and I did (I figured, what the heck, at least I'll get part of it done). The oral portion was surprisingly simple compared to how I had prepared. I received a 98% on the written exam. I understand that the complexity of the oral depends on how many you miss on the written. I was in and out in about 45 minutes. The great part about my D.E. is that he's got a web page where he explained everything I needed to know for my check ride.

Once they lifted the training restriction, I called my DE and we were set for October 2 to do the practical portion…

It was a great day weather wise. Little wind and clear. There wasn't much traffic around either. We had a 2pm scheduled start time. We actually didn't get started until close to 3pm. The DE was running late and had just finished a check ride RHV and called me about 1:50. Since even he was grounded from VFR flights, he would have to take "a car" up to PAO.

Once he arrived, it was a quick check-over all my paperwork, aircraft logs, weather, and my flight plan. He did a great job of explaining to me what we were going to do for the rest of the practical test. He then asked if I had any questions...nope. We headed to the plane.

Preflight went fine. The nerves started building when it was time to startup. The examiner was very quiet. I started the plane, went through my checklist…when I turned on the avionics, I didn't hear anything in my headset! He could hear me. (crap) I started fiddling with my volume control…no change…I started fiddling with the jack and heard sound (whew)…then it went away (crap)…then it came back…I finally got it where the sound stayed (there are several other jacks in the plane that I could've used so I wasn't so worried about not flying. There were no other issues with it for the rest of the flight but it did increase my nervousness.

My focus was to just stay calm and do what I have been doing for the past year. (calm calm calm). Run-up and take-off went without issue. I started on my XC timing. Uhoh…"Cessna XXXX, not receiving your transponder…please recycle"…recycle…"Cessna XXXX, still not receiving your transponder…enhanced class B requires it…you will have to turn around and land immediately" (unless I wanted to be a target for an F16). My examiner fiddled with it a bit and…SWEET…reply light! He came on the radio and confirmed that the tower had identified us and we were set!

At the third checkpoint of my XC leg, he gave me the diversion. I plotted my diversion correctly…until the examiner asked "are you sure that's correct???" Uh no…I uh….need to subtract for the magnetic course…I pointed the plan -15 degrees…"where did you get your calculation from?"…from the VOR, hey my original calculation WAS correct?! I pointed the plane back in the original direction…"much better" ( a little examiner trick). Slow flight, stalls went off without a problem. During my steep turn, I was so impressed that I was holding my altitude and speed so well, I almost forgot to pull out at my point
of entry.

Everything else was pretty uneventful. I'm not sure what was going through my head though, when I made my made my simulated engine failure landing. The examiner pulled my engine on downwind at Byron. I had plenty of altitude but decided to make a short approach. The next mistake was only putting in 10 degrees of flaps. I wasn't coming down fast enough and was going to be long. Luckily I picked the long runway at Byron. As I passed over the numbers, I realized I didn't have all the flaps down and immediately dropped them. I was long but still made the runway (whew).

All the other skills went fine. We were headed back to PAO. He hadn't told me I failed so I'm feeling pretty good. All I have to do is get him back to PAO. Something I've done a billion times. I get to my reporting point and make my inbound call (and there goes my brain)…"Palo Alto tower, Cessna XXXX….uuhhhhhhhh…LANDING at Leslie Salt….uuuhhhh….WITH 1 thousand feet….wwiiiith ROMEO…for 31…uuhh …(crap, get it together)…let's try this again Palo Alto Tower (then the correct call)"… Belly laughter from the tower!!! I tell my examiner that radio work is usually my best thing! He then busts up laughing and says "I'm SURE it is…"

All in all it wasn't my best flight but well within the specs to pass. Once we got back in and he started filling out the paperwork, it was a bit surreal. As a student, I could fly (in the enhanced Bravo). As a certified pilot, I'm now grounded until they lift the restrictions. I'm still very excited that I've completed my Private Pilot training. I'm not sure that it will feel real until I can hop in a plane and go!

Checkride 20
Hello all,
My lifetime dream of becoming a private pilot was realized today when I passed my checkride. I know how much we like to hear the story about how the experience went, but, I thought I'd share some of the things that I had questions about when I first embarked on this journey. First, a brief account of today. I cancelled yesterday due mostly to windy (gusts to 25) conditions. Today on the other hand was a beautiful day.

Arrived at the airport at 12:30. Checked with FSS about the weather for my cross-country, gathered all the required paperwork and completed my flight plan. The DE sat me down in his office and we took the next 1 to 1.5 hours going over the oral portion. The flight portion was mostly uneventful, covered all the maneuvers that we didn't do during the oral, everything pretty much by the book. That final landing and the words "up the ramp, to the pump" (we actually go UP a ramp to the hanger/pump area) were most welcome, only to be surpassed by congratulations you've passed!!!!! WOW what a rush. Anyway back to some of the questions that I had when I started.

1. How much will it cost? $3670.05 total including flight time and all necessary accessories. (44.7 hrs C-152, 7.1 hrs C-172)

2. How long will it take? 6 months, 5/11/01 first lesson 11/9/01 passed private pilot exam. (51.8hrs) ~2 per week

3. Is it hard to learn how to fly? Hard or difficult is a relative term. I found that the "difficulty" for me was balancing the desire to fly with the unnatural feeling of flight. A patient yet demanding instructor made the learning "easy". Thanks Tom!!!

Although I had many other questions prior to and during my training, these three issues were my biggest concerns. I would like to thank the group for all of the input and feedback that I've received these passed 6 months and I strongly encourage active participation.
Thanks all,
Rick McPherson PP-ASEL

Checkride 21
As promised, here is the story of my checkride (with a little bit of background information). It's a little long on the intro, but you can skip the first 3 or 4 paragraphs if you are only interested in the ride itself.

My flying all began a little over two years ago. I amassed about 20 hours before having to stop due to a number of reasons. For one the fine folks in OKC decided to want to see my medical up close and personal before they would let the nice doc issue it. Then, they decided to sit on it for about 6-7 months (this was around the time they were "replacing their computer system" right before Y2K). Eventually I got things figured out with them, and got them the paperwork they needed.

At this point, I moved to a different city, changed jobs, etc. and had to put things on the back burner for about 4 months. I finally got settled in, got into a great flying club, except the only catch was their instructor corps was very low (one could only teach Saturday mornings, and one was about to go in for surgery). I went up a few times with the one that was going in for surgery (until he was out for 6 weeks after). I found another one that was approved by the club to teach in our aircraft, and was with her for about 2 months. She soloed me and then decided that she was too busy to do instruction (trying to home school her kids, etc). Luckily, another guy in our club just got his CFI, and I knew that he was a great teacher in general. Unfortunately, he was only available weekends and not early mornings as I had been doing.

The airport that I fly out of (Naper Aero, LL10) is a very challenging strip. The main runway is technically 2580x30, but it has a displaced threshold of about 300-ft. It is also made challenging by the sink hole at the arrival end of 18, and the change in wind as you fly down the strip--all made possible by the houses lining the runway. For this reason, students are not allowed to do their first solo out of Naper. It wasn't until this last CFI that I actually soloed out of Naper.

Enough about that. Now with my 4th CFI (there was a fifth while he was out of town, but that doesn't count, does it?), about a month ago he tells me to schedule my checkride as I am ready to pass with flying colors. I figure he is pulling my chain, but he insists that I am ready. I end up having to schedule it for the end of September (the earliest the examiner is available). In the middle of all this we had to move the airplanes in the club from Naper out to Aurora (KARR) so that they could be flown VFR.

The day before the ride he wants to meet for breakfast to go over the book work one final time. I end up feeling extremely stupid as I can barely answer a question right. We go for a quick flight, and I nail all the maneuvers. Afterwards, I mess up the 8710-1 and neither one of us has another copy, so we plan on meeting the next morning before the ride to finish the paperwork. I spend the whole night studying and really don't get a good nights sleep (when I tried to, I couldn't). I meet with Hubert the next morning and we go over the paperwork, and talk a little about the book work--I am feeling a lot more confident at this point. I think it was just jitters, or the weather or something.

I finish my flight plan for the cross country based on the duats briefing that I got (I figured the winds aloft forecast wouldn't change). About 30 minutes before the flight I call FSS, and he gives me winds aloft numbers that are way different than the forecast that I had. I start to refigure everything, and before I can finish the fuel consumption, etc., the examiner shows up. She suggests that we talk it over in the snack area, and I can finish up the plan then. We have a little bit of small talk and then she wants to go through my log book. She's flipping through and then stops and notices that an endorsement is missing. Well come to find out, it is not in an obvious place in the ACs that CFIs use for their endorsements, and since I was Hubert's first checkride, he missed it. I give him a call and he comes out to the airport to straighten it out. Phew!

During the rest of the oral, we go over privileges and limitations of the private, airspace, weather reporting, special airspace, cross country planning--why did I choose the route that I did, wouldn't it be better to avoid the skydiving here, etc.--chart symbols, hypoxia, other aeromedical factors, a brief discussion of aerodynamics, etc. All of this was intermixed with things that she didn't like to see, and things that she did. She commented that I was very well prepared on the oral, and things went really smoothly. Of the 2 hours, probably only an hour was actual questions, the rest was either discussion about airplanes, or other small talk.

We take a walk out to the airplane, and she talks to me more about intercept procedures, preflighting, current notams, etc. When we get to the plane, I begin my preflight as normal, and through it she asks me about parts on the plane, and then tries to talk to me about "other stuff" and distract me. Hubert had been doing that to me for a long time when I pre-flight, so I was used to multitasking in that regard. Didn't miss a beat. Gene comments: (Never let anyone interfere with your pre-flight)

Into the plane, and she says that she is briefed, and then gives me the standard FAA briefing about her touching controls, that I am PIC, etc. Start the engine, listen to ATIS, talk to ground, do the run up, etc. As part of my before takeoff checklist, I always review the engine failure during takeoff, and immediately after procedures so they are fresh in my mind (score one extra point for that <grin>). She asks for a short field takeoff, I talk to tower, and we are on the way. I hit my first checkpoint a little bit longer than expected, and she says to go onto the next to see how close my cruise ground speed is. The second speed that I calculated is too fast--the original winds were right.

I told her that, and then she asks me which way to Rochelle, about how long to get there, do we have enough fuel? Ok, you lost your engine. Pull up to trade airspeed for altitude, trim for 65, find a field.   Looks like someone's private strip right below us-- works for me! Get to about 800 AGL, she is satisfied, and says lets stay at this altitude and go north a bit and do some ground refs. Turns about a point is first, and I nail them. She is impressed and tells me no need to do S-turns. Get out the foggles, constant speed climbs and descents with a turn, VOR tracking, unusual attitudes (one climbing turn, one descending turn). Looks good.

Steep turns are next. About 1/4 around I notice that I am a bit uncoordinated. Right as I am about to tell her that and correct it, she tells me that she likes to keep her lunch, and prefers the ball centered. Doh! I finish that one, and do one to the right, and those are both good. She tells me to take her back to ARR for a short field landing, but don't raise the flaps and don't slam on the brakes--"I don't like the feeling of that, and the runway is really long." I make a beautiful short field landing, and we get on the ground taxiing back, and she asks me if I did my pre-landing checklist. I had, I had just forgotten to ask her if her seat belt was on. She said, to give her a soft-field takeoff, and then a landing, but come in high and give her a slip, and it would be over. I make one of the best soft field takeoffs that I have ever made--stall horn blaring, right in ground effect, etc. I ask her about her seat belt, and make a beautiful soft field landing, and we taxi back to parking. I shut down, she reaches out her hand, and says "if all of my rides were that good, I would do it for free, but since I already have your money, you aren't getting it back. Congratulations!"

She writes out the temp, and then we talk for quite a bit longer. I pack up the plane, and don't get a chance to go up again until this weekend when I took my fiancé up as my first pax. She loved it!

Sorry for being so wordy, but just felt like putting two years worth of information into one email.
Marc Olson

I consciously made the following decisions about the objectives of my checkride, which I took some time ago. I borrowed these objectives from skydiving. I think they helped me, and would help anyone worried about passing keep things in perspective.

These objectives are listed in the order of their importance. Subordinate objectives yield to the ones above them.

All of them are based upon a willingness to FAIL my checkride. This is an important underlying philosophy. Of course, I want to pass, but I must defer to the judgment of the DE. I've already decided that I love flying. The only difference passing my checkride will make will be determining the context within which I'm going to learn more about how to fly. So, failing is no big deal, because my other objectives will have been met.

Objective 1: My checkride will be a SAFE flight! There is nothing more important than this. I am willing to fail my checkride in the interest of making this a SAFE flight. It probably wouldn't turn out that way - that is, I couldn't make it safer by doing something for which I'd fail - but I'll focus on safety above all else.

Objective 2: My checkride will be a FUN flight! There's no point in flying for myself if it's not fun! I am willing to fail my checkride in the interest of making this a FUN flight. If I'm not having fun, I'm doing something wrong anywise. Besides, everyone likes to have fun. Making it fun for the DE couldn't hurt. Fun doesn't come in the form of doing stupid pilot tricks, either. There's fun in meeting new people and learning new things. Everyone learns something new on their checkride!

If I have to choose between having FUN and being safe, BEING SAFE will always win.

Objective 3: Meet or exceed the PTS requirements. This is the least important objective of my checkride. It's a chance to show off what I've learned - I'm proud of the work I've done learning to fly!

I am willing to fail my checkride in the interest of meeting or exceeding the PTS requirements. Ideally, the opposite is true - if I meet the requirements, I will pass! But I'm not focusing on passing; I'm focusing on performing each of the tasks as well as I can. Passing is just gravy.

If I have to choose between meeting the PTS requirements and having fun, HAVING FUN will take precedence. This might sound backwards, but if I can't have fun while doing the PTS tasks, I'm doing them wrong anywise, or I'm too worried about them to do them well.

If I have to choose between meeting the PTS requirements and being safe, BEING SAFE will always win.

I took these objectives to my checkride. Afterwards, I asked myself three questions:
1. Was it safe? Yep. Thorough pre-flight, conscientious go/no-go decision, conservative flying practices. It was as safe as I could make a flight.

2. Was it fun? Yep. The DE had a lot of personality, and he was fun to meet and spend an hour with. I learned some new things too, and that's always good. Plus, hey, it's flying - I love flying!

3. Did I meet or exceed the PTS requirements? Yep. I did some of those things pretty well!
Yep, yep, yep. It was a good flight. And, as an extra bonus, I passed.

Passed it today!
Everything went quite well. I was initially afraid of the oral because I got a 100 on the written and people had told me I would have a very tough oral. It wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. Nothing out of the ordinary. I dont think the examiner cared about the score at all. We went over a LOT of stuff though! Here are the broad range of questions

1. With airspace, she asked me to fly from one end of the chart to the other end on the other side through several different air spaces (MOAs, class B, C, alert warning and prohibited areas). Then she would tell me the ceilings are at 1000 ft. So if I chose to fly, will I have to talk to anyone through all these areas, how high must I be through congested areas etc. Fun stuff

2. Draw out the electrical, fuel, pitot/static and vacuum systems of the plane and explain them. How to detect and deal with pitot/static clogging, vacuum failing, alternator belt failing etc.

3. Reading the weather (radar charts, TAF/METAR, FA, notams etc)

With the practical part, I was comfortable with all my maneuvers but I always had problems with the Steep turns (usually remained within the 100 feet but had to fight the plane to maintain altitude). Well what do ya
know.steep turns were no problem today!

The first landing we did was supposed to be soft field, but it was not. Now it wasn't bone jarring or anything, but was not soft. So she tells me to do another one and 'make it ..err...softer!' (yeah, I get the point!). The next
one was pretty soft. I tend to flare quite close to the ground and usually can judge the height pretty well. So this time we were getting close to the ground and still descending and she almost touched the yoke to flare but I had already flared by that point. She tells me to make it a full stop. I was not sure at this point if I had passed or not but felt that I had. But since the first landing wasn't too good, I thought maybe...? This examiner is known to talk very very little and gives no indication whether something went well or not, so until I parked the plane I had no clue. But once I parked she told me I did very well except the first landing.

So thatís that! Very excited about planning to take my wife up there tomorrow if the weather holds.
Nasir 59 hours PP-ASEL.

 My appointment with the D.E. was scheduled at noon. I was asked to bring a flight plan from SNA to YUM and one stop to IMP to drop my instructor off for a day of parachuting. 

The D.E. asked for student/medical certificate, my logbook and the 8710. After reviewing the documents, she asked me if I was ready to start. The oral part lasted about 2 hours. 

The D.E. asked me about the privileges and obligations as a private pilot (To carry passengers at day and night, SVFR, Class B airspace, etc.), medical factors, use of seatbelts, airspace, weather minimums and requirements, aerodynamics of the stall, night flight physiology, fuel requirements, obstacles clearance, LAHSO at LGB. Later, we started taking a look to my flight plan for the trip and all the related material; such as, maintenance records, 91.213(d) for day and night, weight and balance, airplane performance, takeoff and landing distances, climb rate. 

After that I was asked to choose three symbols from the chart and explain them (the funny part is that I chose the easier ones and the D.E. later on told me, "O.K. then, now I am going to choose three and you are going to talk about them," obviously she chose the difficult ones this time!) 

We talked about the airport lighting, gun signals, special airspace close to IMP and YUM and finally we talked about the NTSB 830 and the NASA form. 

Wow, I was exhausted! She told me we were taking a break and in the meantime I should go and check the weather to see if we could make the flight portion. It was a very cloudy day and the weather inland was much worst than over the coast. I asked her if it was Ok to flight over the coast instead of inland and she told me that I was the pilot in command and it was my decision to make the flight or wait for a better weather. 

So I told her OK lets go over the ocean. She said, "OK let's go". She told me to go and preflight the plane, so I proceeded to get the plane and check the squawks. Everything looked fine. 

The flight... For the people not familiar with SNA let me tell you that SNA has two parallel runways 19L-1R and 19R-1L. I requested a mesa departure to the practice area, meaning that I had to depart with a heading of 220 degrees and this implied I had to cross 19L to taking off on 19R which requires reading back all the hold short instructions. 

After completing the preflight, the D.E. jumped into the plane and I continued with the passenger briefing which I had prepared previously (use of seat belts, use of the doors, windows, air inlets, cabin heat, emergency transponder codes, emergency frequencies, airsickness, ear/health problems, etc.) From the look on her face I could see she was very pleased. 

After getting ATIS and clearance, I started the engine and verified everything was OK. Then I proceeded to taxi and checked the brakes. However, a fuel truck was filling a plane (ggrr!!) so I had to evade it. I was just so nervous... I contacted ground and I got the clearance for the run-up area. 

But like never before I had three airplanes coming on the opposite way. One of them seemed like didn't see me. I turned all the lights on and started flashing the taxi and landing light. All of the sudden the other guy started to move over darn it was the first time something like that happened to me! 

Once in the run-up area and after I started the procedures, the D.E. started asking me questions about what and why I was doing what I was doing (carb heat on for 5 sec, mag checks, etc) Finally I called ground and notified them I was ready to continue. I was instructed to taxi to 19L via Charlie and Kilo. I read back the instructions and proceeded to taxi in a brisk walk speed. 

After contacting tower they told me to cross 19L and hold short of 19R and airliner was departing. I was cleared for takeoff. The D.E. asked me for a soft field takeoff so I continued to setup the flaps and to pull back the yoke and full throttle until the nose wheel was in the air. I waited for the main wheels to lift out the ground. I pushed forward the nose to keep the plane in ground effect and as soon as I had enough air speed I started to climb. 

Darn, I was so nervous that when the tower instructed me to turn to heading 220 degrees and maintain at or below 2400'. I didn't realize I was at 1400'... after a few minutes the D.E. asked me what my intentions were and I told her to maintain at or below 2400' She just looked at the altimeter and I saw it... darn, just then I thought she was going to tell me to go back, but it wasn't that way. I corrected the altitude and later on I was instructed to change to VFR and the frequency change was approved. 

Once in the practice area I was asked to demonstrate MCA, so I cleared the area and I proceeded to setup the airplane for MCA. I waited for the stall horn. I didn't gain or lose altitude, so it was OK. Later on she asked me to turn west, east and finally south. Then she asked me to setup the plane for a "final" approach. 

After demonstrating a power off stall, which it came well, and while recovering from the stall, she asked me to demonstrate a power on stall with 20 degrees bank to the right... oh well, the plane didn't want to stall, no until I pulled the yoke back really hard. 

Now it was the turn for the steep turn, at that point I was really feeling the pressure so I asked the D.E for a minute for break before the next maneuvers. First steep turn attempt was to the right and I screwed it. I explained to her why and I asked her if I could try it again. She accepted. The second one was between the limits and the steep turn to the left. It came up much better. 

Now hood work...straight and level, ascending, descending and turns to heading at the beginning. I had some problems trying to keep the airplane coordinated but after some tries I was able to do so. Finally I did some recoveries from unusual attitudes under the hood. I was exhausted. 

The next step was the use of the VOR and deviation. I had the option to fly to Compton or Hawthorne; both of them are underneath LAX class B and almost at the same distance from my current position. I chose Compton since it is a non controller airport and I thought it was more challenging. I followed the course. I estimated the deviation procedure and I was very close to the time I estimated. I tuned and started to make the calls on the CTAF. First landing it had to be a short field landing; however, I forgot to remove the flaps and press the brakes right away, but the speed and glide path were OK so she told me not to forget next time to use the brakes. Then we taxied back (while taxing by accident I crossed the yellow markings in the run up area and she asked me if I had noticed what I just did) 

Next, it was a short field takeoff with a soft field landing. After the landing I had to plan the return to SNA. We took a small. CMP is very close LAX Class B [SRF-], to Long Beach Class D [] and Torrance Class D [], thus I had to find I spot between them to climb enough to avoid the Class D airspace. After climbing to 3,000' I got the ATIS from SNA and contacted SoCal Approach with my intentions. I was directed toward the Huntington Beach pier. I started the descending after I was instructed to contact TWR and I was assigned for 19R. Later on I got instructions to cross the field for the downwind for 19L. Because I was too high I requested to enter the downing with a 270 to the right and I got the clearance. 

The D.E. asked me why and I explained to her that I was too high to enter the pattern. She told me that she wanted the airplane on the numbers. Once in the downwind, I had an "engine failure" by the D.E., wow that was a close call...! She still wanted the airplane on the numbers... it was challenging because I didn't want to use the throttle to accomplish the goal... but at end it was a piece of cake. After clearing the runway, cleaning the place and contacting ground control, I proceeded to the parking area. I was taxing in a brisk walk speed when ground asked me to expedite the taxi since a jet was coming in opposite direction and I had to hold in the run up area. The D.E. told me to go ahead and expedite the taxi. 

We waited for a few minutes and we were instructed to continue with the taxi. After executing the procedure to shutting down the engine, I heard the words I was looking forward for almost 30 years... congratulations you passed... you are now a private pilot!!!!!. 

The only thing I could do is to smile and give a big hug to the D.E. After that everything it really looks like a dream... we took some pictures and she told me she had to go to prepare the paperwork, so I had to tie the airplane. At this moment I was so tired like never before...

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