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.