2 July 2008-Checkride

July 2, 2008

Just to spare anyone any unnecessary suspense, I passed my checkride today. I was a little concerned, because there was going to be a lot of crosswind today. By the time I flew at noon the winds were from 200 at 11 knots gusting to 17 knots. That puts the cross wind component at 7 to 10 knots. I think the most I had dealt with so far was about 8 knots and I remember it not being very fun.

I arrived at 9am and only Bob was there initially. I thought maybe the checkride was canceled because of the winds. Bob said the designated examiner(DE) was still coming. I would be doing my checkride with one other student who had also been working on his license for about a year. By about 9:20 everyone had finally arrived. (I forgot to get permission to use names today, so I will just refer to the examiner as the DE and mention other student as the other student. I just consider it a courtesy.)

The other student and myself would be quizzed together, but fly separately. The oral part of the exam lasted about two and a half hours. A lot of it was the DE just telling us about himself, his flying experience and trying to impart what bits of wisdom he could to a couple of newbie pilots. However the DE, would bring up different scenarios and ask us how we would handle them.

An example question. If I want to fly to El Reno, Oklahoma I have to pass through Oklahoma City class C airspace. I contact the controller and he says standby. Am I clear to proceed? The answer is no, since my aircraft was not specifically addressed. I can not enter class C airspace, until the controller specifically mentions my aircrafts identifier. I got that one right.

An example of one I missed, was how high up does class D airpsace go. I said it goes up to the shelf of the overlying class C, thinking of other airports in the Oklahoma City area. Wrong answer. The answer is 2000 feet AGL. He had me get out my sectional, find a class D airport and calculate the top of the class D for Max Westheimer..

The DE also gave an example of the difference between the legal thing to do and the smart thing to do. In this example, I am flying to El Reno again. He said while legally I can fly over Oklahoma City, providing that I have gotten clearance to enter class C airpsace, what would happen if I was right over downtown and my engine quit. Where would I land? Could I even make it to an airport. The smart thing to do is make sure I pick a route that affords me some off airport landing options. I should plan my route to stay to the south or the north of the populated areas in this case.

After the oral exam, I was scheduled to fly first. So I went out the plane and started preflight. While I was preflighting the plane, Bob came over briefly and told me not worry about the crosswinds and that I could handle them. I had told Bob this morning I felt a little concerned about the cross winds situation, so I guess he was trying to boost my confidence some.

After the preflight was done, the DE came out. Before we got in the plane, he told me that while he is looking for me to perform the various parts of the tests adequately, that he is not expecting perfection. He is looking for me to be able to exercise good judgment, have good control of the aircraft and to fly safely. He also said part of his job is to try to distract me and get me to forget to do things.

After we got in the plane and started buckling up, I asked the DE if he wanted me to give him the passenger briefing. He said the fact that I mentioned it was sufficient for him. After starting up the plane, tuned into the AWOS to get the winds, barometric pressure and density altitude. After tuning back to CTAF, we started heading out to the runway. I rolled the plane a short distance and hit the brakes to make sure they worked and told the DE what I was doing.

After getting to the runup area, I did my run up checks and then my clearing turn. The DE said to do a normal takeoff. Because there was so much crosswind today, we would not be attempting soft and short field takeoffs and landings. So I started out with a normal takeoff. I remembered to turn my yoke into the crosswind as I accelerated down the runway. I was a little slow releasing pressure on the yoke as we built up speed and the plane rolled to the right a little once we lifted off. I got straightened out and continued my climb.

The DE wanted to climb to 3000 feet first where the air was cooler so we could cool down the plane. At that point we would do slow flight and stalls. As we were climbing the DE was talking and trying to distract me. I made sure I kept looking around for other airplanes and checking instruments every so often.

We started out with steep turns to the left and right. The left turn went well and I stayed dead on with altitude. My right turn was a little sloppy and I had lost almost 100 feet. The DE mentioned this, but said I was in spec and just about everyone has more difficulty doing steep turns to the right.

We next transitioned to slow flight. I did good on this. I set my flaps to 20 degrees, kept my speed at 60 knots and maintained altitude. We transitioned to a low power stall from there. My low power stall, was not great but I managed. We next went into a departure stall. The DE set the rpm to 2000 and had me start pulling back to bleed off airspeed. When the plane stalled, I had some roll to the right because I had too much right rudder, but I recovered.

The DE said I could do better on the departure stall. He said that I was bleeding off my airspeed too fast and I was making the stall harsher than it should be. He asked me to do the departure stall again, but bleed off airpseed at about 1 knot per second. That way when the plane stalls, it will not snap down so hard. I did as he suggested and the departure stall was not quite so harsh.

We next went into some foggle practice. I had no problems with this. I kept the plane on course and was able to set the VOR to the Oklahoma City VOR and turn towards it. He next did some unusual attitude recover. He was pretty aggressive with the turns. It actually made me feel a little nauseous at one point. Still I kept in my mind, black back, blue forward. The first time I was going down(black). So I quickly pulled back on the yoke and the throttle, leveled out the plane and applied power when even with the horizon. He commented jokingly, it makes me mad when students can foil my attempts to fool them. Lets try it again. So another several seconds of twists and turns and then the plane is mine. I am going up(blue). I apply full power, push the yoke forward and level out the plane. He was happy with that.

We next descended down to 1800. As we were approaching a road, the DE asked me to perform an S turn. I was caught off guard a little because I was not in the location I would normally expect to be when doing this. Normally I would be lined up with a road and have the next road a mile over to check against. I quickly tried to figure out where my landmarks would be and started doing the turn. I have done better S turns, but he was satisfied with my performance.

We then headed back to the airport. The DE asked me to do a normal landing. As we were in the downwind, the DE started chatting with me again and trying to distract me. I asked him, is this the point where I tell you to be quiet because I am trying to land an airplane? He just laughed and said “I have to try to distract you”.

Because of crosswinds there was no way to do slow and soft field takeoffs and landings. I did my normal landing with a speed of about 70-75 knots, 20 degrees flaps and crosswind compensation. That was okay, but the DE wanted me to try something different. Bring it clean and at about about 90 knots. Since we had about 20 knots of head wind, that means my touchdown would be about 70 knots. I did as he asked and touched down okay.

We went up again and the DE took the controls briefly. He wanted to bring the plane in closer to the runway to play a dirty trick on me as he put it. That could only mean an engine out scenario. About at the end of the runway, he pulled the power back and said your plane. I noticed that he had not pulled carb heat, so I pulled that. I was going to do the usual 70 knots and started to talk about the engine out procedures, but he said just get the nose down and airplane to the ground. I started flying an abbreviated pattern and got lined up with the runway. Once I had the runway made, he called out go around, go around. I immediately applied full power and started climbing out. The DE said, Didn’t you see that elephant on the runway?”. I responded, “You must have better eyes than me.” I almost forgot to push in the carb heat, but I noticed it and got that in.

On the final downwind, he told me I had passed and to head back to the office.

After getting back to the office, he filled out a temporary airman certificate and presented it to me. So I am now licensed to fly Airplane Single Engine Land. Hopefully in a few weeks I will receive my permanent certificate.

It would be nice to go up tomorrow, but I have other things I need to do. Going up Friday or Saturday will not work, because Bob will not be in the area for the fourth of July. However I plan to schedule the 152 for an hour this Sunday and fly as a private pilot.

With this entry, I will conclude this blog for now. I may decide to go on to upset and recovery training and IFR training. If I do that I may add on to this blog or start a new one. I am not sure.

Regardless, I will leave this blog up and hope it will be something that current or prospective student pilots may find useful. Obviously I have tried to to give a technical description of my experiences. I have also tried to document not just the feel good times, but also times when I felt nervous, uncertain or frustrated. All that really matters is that once you start, you do not stop until you finish. If you do that, then you can earn a private pilot certificate.


1 July 2008 – Flight 51

July 1, 2008

Today was my last flight before the checkride.

Instead of going through all the maneuvers like we did last time, Bob needed to fly the 152 over to Max Westheimer in Norman to get the radio worked on. It was a good opportunity to get a little practice in talking to Air Traffic Control and get to land at a different airport than I normally would.

Bob asked me to do a soft field landing for the landing at Max Westheimer. Bob said I was still late on the 30 degrees flaps, but I kept the nose up.

I managed to do okay talking to ATC, but the only way to get really comfortable with it is to just do some flying to Wiley Post and Max Westheimer after my checkride is done. That is down side to flying out of an airport without a control tower. You do not get to the opportunity to work with ATC and really get the process down.

We were there for about an hour, while the display on the radio was repaired. The display was a seven segment and the middle segment of the last digit was not working. It made it difficult to tell of you had an 8 or a 0 for example. Actually you could figure it out, but you had to keep track of the digits while turning. Turned out to be a cold solder joint. The A&P said a touch with the soldering iron was all it took to fix it.

While hanging around I also got a chance to get a good look at a Cirrus SR22. Nice plane, but way more expensive than what I will ever be able to afford. I will be doing good if I can manage to get a used 150.

On the way back Bob said we would do an engine out as well as do a few short and soft field takeoffs and landings. Bob pulled power on me about mid field on the downwind leg and said to land the plane. I made the runway no problem. When it became obvious I had the runway made, Bob had me execute a go around before touching down. We then proceeded to do a soft field landing.

On the soft field landing, I made sure to deploy 30 degrees flaps much earlier. I had to apply a lot more power because of the drag, but the plane handled just fine. After touching down I got the flaps up to 10 degrees, carb heat in, applied full power and did a soft field takeoff. That one went okay as well.

Finally we did a short field landing. Again I applied 30 degrees flaps much earlier than I normally would do. However I did not stay focused on my aiming point for the short field landing. Bob had to remind me to aim for the end of the runway. After correcting for that, I managed a good touch down and could have easily stopped withing 1000 feet. Instead of doing a full stop. Bob had me taxi down the runway and back to the office.

2 July – 9am Checkride

29 June 2008-Flight 50

June 29, 2008

Finally I had a day start without thunderstorms. The winds were from 360 at 10 knots.

Today was a continuation of checkride prep.

We started off with a soft field takeoff. I finally got the nose up high enough today to make Bob happy. I think that was a first.

We proceeded to the west and started off with some steep turns to the left and the right. I handled those pretty well. Bob did have to remind me once to keep the bank at 45 degrees. I was not quite getting it steep enough. However I did hold my altitude and rolled out on course. We also did a low power stall, which went okay.

We next went into some slow flight. I was doing pretty good, but I still had some difficulty keeping the speed at 60 knots. It tended to go anywhere from 60 to 70, but I kept my altitude. We also did some slow speed turns which went okay.

We proceeded from slow flight to a departure stall to the left. I was still overcompensating with the right rudder and plane rolled some to right when it stalled, but I kept the plane under control lowered the nose and leveled out.

We went into some foggle practice next. We went through a series of straight and level flight, climbs, turns and VOR practice. We went through those just fine. We also did some upset recovery practice. I had been mentally rehearsing this, trying to get my reactions to be a little quicker. It seemed to payoff today. I was able to get the plane leveled out with little delay.

We next practiced S-turns and turns about a point. I had not actually done the rectangular pattern in this situation. However I do it all the time when I am in the pattern. My S-turns and turns about a point went better than before. I was picking my landmarks and managing to steer by them. Bob said they could be a little better, but they were passable.

We next did a rectangular pattern. I had not done this one in this situation, but I do rectangular patterns all the time when I am in the pattern. I had no problems flying a rectangular pattern around a square mile section of road. I compensated for the cross wind properly and followed the road.

We next did an engine out. I remembered to do my checks, but I forgot about the simulated switch to 121.5 and mayday. We had a little excitement while doing this. As I was lining up for my simulated landing in a field, I spotted a helicopter off to my left paralleling our course. So we aborted the simulated engine out and cleared the area. One other thing I need to remember for the checkride is to remember to tell the DE that just for before touching down I would crack open the doors, turn off the fuel, the master switch and magnetos.

We returned to the field where we practiced some more short and softfield takeoffs and landings. I was still late on applying 30 degrees flaps. The soft field takeoffs went well, but the short field takeoffs and landings I think could be better.

Bob also threw in a go around while I was preparing for one short field. I responded promptly this time. I got the throtte and carb heat in and I remembered to get my flaps up. Bob commented I handled that much better.

After I taxied back, Bob said he thought I was ready for my checkride and I could take off Monday and Tuesday if I wanted to. As it turns out, Bob wants to do the annual on his plane tomorrow, so there is no chance of flying Monday. However we will do one more lesson on Tuesday just to make sure I stay sharp.

Next and hopefully final lesson as a student pilot,
1July 9am.

28 June 2008-Flight 49

June 28, 2008

I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder. I was afraid today was going to be another cancellation. I called Bob and he said to meet him at 10am. We needed to do some oral test prep and get some paperwork done.

At Bobs office, we reviewed the log books again. We also filled out the form 8710-1, which is given the examiner to document how many hours of training I had received and solo time I had completed. While we were doing this Bob asked me various questions about the airplane, FAA regs, airspace, etc. I did pretty well, but there were a few that I did not get right.

After about an hour and a half of paperwork and questions, we checked to see what the weather was like. The storms were to our north and it was overcast where we were at. Still the winds were calm and and the ceiling was more than high enough to get out and do some review.

While I was not doing everything perfectly, I was not being as clumsy in my responses as last time. We started off with steep turns to the left and the right. Both of those I did well. I held my altitude and rolled out on the proper heading.

We next went into some slow flight. I could do a little better on this. I was having some difficulty maintaining speed and altitude. I think I managed to stay within limits, but I could better.

We next did departure stalls to the left and the right. I handled these better than last time. On the departure stall to the left, I overcompensated a bit on holding the right rudder and the plane rolled some to the right. However, I maintained control and recovered from the stall.

We did some low power stalls. I was not doing those too well. I had a tendency to push too hard on the yoke and dive plane. I also forgot to raise flaps once and Bob took my hand off the throttle and put them on the flaps to remind me.

We also practiced forward slips. This was actually the first time I had really had a chance to try them. It did not take too long to get a feel for them.

We went back to SNL to do some short and soft field takeoff and landings. The shortfield and softfield takeoffs went okay. On the shortfield landing, Bob was still not happy with my keeping the nose up. The shortfield landings did not go well at all. I was consistently too high and even with full flaps I had too much airspeed to get stopped in 1000 feet. They were more like normal landings than short landings. I know we will have to hit those some more.

Bod did a couple a power out situations on me. In the downwind pattern, Bob pulled power and said you just lost your engine. I set my airspeed to 70 knots(normally 60, but Bob wanted some safety factor) , confirmed with Bob that he wanted me to immediately turn base and headed for the runway. I made the runway and touched down , but I was a little far down the runway to guarantee a full stop. Bob took the controls briefly to get us back up in the air.

During a soft field takeoff Bob pulled power on me halfway down the runway and said I lost power. I was a little slow reacting since I had not had experienced this scenario. Still there was no other choice, than to put the plane back down on the runway. After the wheels touched, Bob immediately had me apply full power to climb back out before we ran out of runway.

Bob also threw in a go around. I was a little slow on reacting to his initial call to go around, but I managed to get the throttle in, climb out and retract flaps.

I did not feel as bad about my performance as I did the last time I went up, but there is still some more work to do. I hope three more days will be enough.

Tomorrows lesson is rescheduled for 11am, because more storms are expected early in the morning.

27 June 2008 – Flight Cancelled

June 27, 2008

Not the thing I want to type when I am trying to get ready for next Wednesdays checkride. Thunderstorms moving into the area.
Tomorrows flight is rescheduled for 9am.

22 June 2008 – Flight Cancelled

June 22, 2008

Bob called and said he was going to have to cancel todays lesson.
The current schedule is
27 June -1 July 9:30 am – Getting ready for the checkride
2 July 9 am – Checkride

21 June 2008-Flight 48

June 21, 2008

Today was a nice day to fly. There was a light wind from 340 and almost no turbulence. Despite the nice weather, by the time I was done today I was left wondering if I am ever going to be ready to do a checkride.

Bob went over the logs with me today and quizzed me about what inspections were required and how to find them in the log books. He also quizzed me about what other documentation was needed and what other inspections were required.

In the plane, the first thing Bob pointed out was that I was taxiing too fast today. I should be taxiing at a brisk walk. I did not think I was taxiing any faster than I normally do, but I will make sure I take it a little slower. I don’t want to get failed before I even get off the ground!

We started off with a soft field takeoff. Bob pointed out that I need to have the nose wheel off the ground and no brakes before I even get on the runway. It makes sense. If I it was really muddy I would not want to get bogged down before I even got lined up with the runway. I am going to have to be sure I do this. The softfield take off went okay. I made sure I set 10 degrees flaps, I climbed into ground effect and then climbed out after 70 knots.

We departed to the west to practice various maneuvers. We started off with some steep turns. My first turn to the left was not good. I was not keeping a steady altitude and slow rolling out of the turn. My turn to right was a little better, but my next turn to the left was sloppy again. We did a third turn to the left and I finally got that one right.

We next went into slow flight. I was slow on doing things like setting flaps and getting my airspeed down, so Bob was having to prompt me. We went from that into a low power stall. Again I was slow in recovery and Bob was having to tell me don’t dive the plane, get the throttle in,get the carb heat in, get the plane in a climb. I should be doing this stuff instinctively, but I still keep finding myself having to think about it instead of just doing it.

We next did some departure stalls. Again my reactions were slow. On one stall, I did not keep enough pressure on the right rudder. The plane rolled to the left because of torque and P-factor and Bob grabbed the controls to get the plane straightened out.

We next did some foggle practice. I was doing a good job on keeping the plane steady in straight and level flight as well as in turns. When the VOR was added in, I was having difficulty figuring out which way to go. It made me feel like I was doing this for the first time.

We next did an emergency landing practice. I did get my engine checks right. I remembered to do a flow from right to left. However I left out the steps(simulated of course) of going to 121.5, calling a mayday and setting the transponder to 7700. I made it a point to pick a closer landing area and try to fly a standard pattern. However I turned base too soon and would have found myself in the trees. Maybe I should aim for the trees instead and that way I can miss them and land on good spot. 🙂 If I had thought about it, I probably could have done some S-turns to bleed off altitude or done a forward slip. As we did our climbout from practicing, Bob had to remind me to push in the carb in.

We went into doing some S turns and turns around a point. Again these were really sloppy. I was not doing a good job of picking landmarks to guide myself with.

We next returned to the field to do a soft field landing. I was slow on adding in the final 30 degrees of flaps and Bob had to tell me to add them in. On landing, Bob was saying I was not keeping the nose up high enough when I am on the ground. We next did a soft field takeoff. I remembered to get the flaps up to 10 degrees from 30 degrees, but I forgot to push in the carb heat and Bob had to remind me. The climb into ground effect and climbout went okay.

We next did a short field landing. Again I was slow on deploying 30 degrees flaps on short final and Bob had to say add in 30 degrees flaps. I think my problem with the 30 degrees flaps is that they generate more drag than lift. So I am reluctant to add them too soon in case I need to climb out. I will have to talk to Bob about that.

After we stopped for the short field Bob asked if I wanted to do a few landings on my own, but I felt like my performance was too sloppy today to want to go up by myself. I declined and we taxied back to the office.

Next lesson is scheduled for tomorrow at 9:30. We also scheduled lessons for 9:30am for 27 Jun to 1 July. Hopefully by 1 July, I will be handling all the maneuvers much better than I did today.

20 June 2008-Checkride Scheduled

June 20, 2008

I got a call from Bob today. He wanted to get the checkride scheduled. It is set for July 2 at 9 am at SNL. Since there is another person doing their checkride as well in the afternoon, I will not have to fly to Wiley Post.

Next lessons are scheduled for June 21 and 22 at 9:30am. I will also be taking off work the following Friday through the July 4 weekend. So I should have plenty of time to get everything ready.

14 Jun 2008-Flight 47

June 14, 2008

Today was more checkride preparation. It was about 90 degrees and the winds were about 10 knots out of the south. Bob was not going to be around this weekend so I flew with Ted today.

As I pulled in I had another car come in behind. It was a person who had called Bob earlier and wanted to get some pictures of her in the plane because she wanted to do a video for her brother about flying. Ted let her sit in the plane for a bit and I also explained some of the preflight process. It was an opportunity to do a little PR for general aviation and also practice doing a preflight with potential distractions. That is part of the reason I made up my own checklist to make sure I do not forget anything.

I went over with Ted some of the difficulties I had when I soloed last time. We started off with a soft field takeoff. Ted reminded me that I should keep the end of the runway just in view over the nose as I start down the runway and during lift off. When I lift off I need to remember to keep the end of the runway just off the nose and let the speed build up to 70 knots and start climbing out.

We proceeded out to the the northwest of the airport to practice. As we were climbing up to 3000 feet going northwest, I had to momentarily abort my ascent because another plane suddenly appeared in front and above us going east to west. There was plenty of time to see and avoid, but it does demonstrate the limitation of a high wing aircraft. The aircraft was not visible until I saw it through the front windshield. Before that point, it was hidden by the wing. I am not sure if the other plane saw us. It did not seem to react to our presence, but since it was to my right it had the right of way regardless. One mistake I did make was calling out the aircrafts location to Ted. Initially I said aircraft at 12 oclock and I should have said 2 oclock. So I had him looking in the wrong place. I need to be more accurate when calling out positions in a situation like that.

After we arrived to the practice area, we did some slow flight to review what I needed to do there. The big thing I need to remember is to treat this similar to a landing. So flaps at 20 degrees and let the airspeed get down to 60 knots. Normally I would not let my airspeed get down to 60 knots in a landing, but this is practicing an extreme case. I continue to pitch up a little more without stalling, then add some power so I am on the reverse part of the power curve. I need to maintain my altitude during all this. From there I need to make turns with about 5-10 degrees of bank to the left and right. Add power as needed to maintain speed and altitude.

From this point we transitioned to a low power stall. I pulled back on the yoke, the airspeed dropped and the stall horn started sounding. Around 40 knots or so, the plane finally pitched forward. I released the pressure on the yoke, increased power and made sure I established a positive rate of climb. I also need to remember to not retract flaps until I have established a positive rate of climb.

We next went to practice some departure stalls. This is practicing a situation where I am taking off and get into a stall. Ted had me slow down the plane to 60 knots, 0 degrees flaps and then apply full throttle. This is to simulate my takeoff run down the runway. I then start pulling back on the yoke to increase my angle of attack and also reduce my airspeed. I continue this until I get a stall and the nose pitches over. I ease back on the pressure, let my airspeed build up and then begin my pullout. I need to remember to avoid a secondary stall. I have the stall horn sound once during recovery. The plane did not stall, but it came close.

We next proceeded on to review turns about a point and s turns. Even with Ted coaching me, these still felt sloppy.

We next returned to the field for a few soft and short field takeoffs and landings. We did two soft field landings, one soft field takeoff and concluded with short field landing. I think I was wrong about my performance on the short field landing last time. I thought I was not getting stopped in 1000 feet, but I was actually counting the start of the runway as part of the distance. I actually should have been counting from the touch down point. So I actually was stopping in less than 1000 feet. That is also what I did today with Ted.

I was hoping I could take next week off to finish my checkride prep and do my checkride, but winds are predicted to be out the east all week and chances of rain.

I was hoping to solo on Sunday, but neither Bob or Ted will around to get the plane out. I will get with Bob later in the week to get a time scheduled for next weekend.

8 June 2008-Flight Cancelled

June 8, 2008

No flying again due to winds at 20 to 30 knots out of the south.