Posted by: Patrick | March 15, 2011

The Day – Check ride – 3/15/2011

Here I am, standing in front of my long dreamed to be a pilot.

I start the day by checking the weather, every pilot those that. But I knew it was not going to be a smooth day. WHP was fine but WJF had lots of wind.
Here is what it looked like:
KWJF 151556Z 29019G26KT 10SM CLR 16/07 A3015 RMK AO2 PK WND 28026/1549 SLP204 T01610072

After arriving to WJF and chaining down the plane and securing it, walked to the building that was supposed to meet and have my exam there with DPE.
Very nice gentleman and experienced DPE.

We start our exam by filling IACRA forms and verifying the documents. The exam was officially started. We walked into a closed room and I setup all my books and materials. At the beginning he explained the possible outcome for the day, I would leave the day either by being a private pilot, or he would issue a letter of discontinuation or letter of the mis-qualification. My goal ? obvious !!!

He started by asking me question related to regulations, PAR 61, 71 and 91. I answered them as much as I could, get confused on some questions and looked them up in the FAR book. The point was to find the correct answer. Oral exam continued with reviewing cross country planning and checking on weight and balance of the airplane for today’s flight. He paid very close attention to the airplane documentations, engine and airplane logs and all requirements to meet FAR. The oral part of the exam took almost 2.5 hrs.

It was almost 11:30 AM and wind was blowing outside.
KWJF 151756Z 29025KT 10SM CLR 20/06 A3014 RMK AO2 PK WND 29028/1756 SLP198 T02000061 10200 20128 58001

it was my turn to make a decision of GO or NO GO with that weather. DPE agreed to issue letter of discontinuation if I choose not to fly !!
But, at that moment I felt so empowered that I decided to GO. I was sure that I could pull it off. My training was complete and I had confidence that as POC I can perform practical test too.

We walked toward the plane in order to start the pre-flight check. I conduct a pre-flight and I paid attention to every single point I knew. But isn’t DPE job to point something that you don’t know or didn’t pay attention ? Yes, he did it by asking about the counter weights, I knew about aileron counter weights, but nothing more ! where else we can found them ? aha……. I admit that I don’t know and then he pointed them on rudder and elevators. Pre-flight completed and we moved inside the cockpit. After passenger briefing, I start the ngine by paying close attention to the check list. We were ready to move, dialed into the ATIS and here what I’m hearing .
KWJF 151856Z 27018G24KT 10SM CLR 19/07 A3016 RMK AO2 PK WND 29028/1818 SLP206 T01940072

He immediately asked me about taxing in wind, and I described the rules for taxing in the wind regarding th aileron and elevator positioning. Interesting enough, just 2 planes ahead of us, he showed me a 152 with bent prop !! the plane was damaged yesterday during the taxing in the wind !!!

We headed to the run-up area, turned into the wind and followed the check list. I was ready to roll. the first assignment was a soft filed take off and soft filed landing. I explained the procedure and headed out for the execution. Take off was fine, wind correction and crab into the wind, holding rudder and follow traffic pattern. I choose to make a longer final leg for the landing, consider the wind and soft filed landing. Approach was fine, right on speed, till last second that suddenly right on the numbers a felt a gust and caused the plane to drop, not a soft filed landing at all !! I explained him the errors and taxied back for second assignment which was short filed take off and landing. Take off performed well, the real problem was with my landing when he asked me clear 50 ft obstacle and touch down before second strip after numbers. I never practiced that before, so I was confused and barley made that. We tried that for second time again and I was able to make it satisfactory. We made a full stop on runway and after clearing the plane took off heading to P20.

The Cross country section took about 5 min, we reviewed our position using pilotage and dead reckoning based on our flight plan. Then we start our hood work. It went well as I was expecting too. We performed climb, descent and turns. Now it was stalls time, we did some power off and power on stalls, stalls on turn with on and off configurations.It was time to do steep turns, we start with right steep turn and followed by a left steep turn. Holding altitude and turn rate was the key and I practiced it before, which result to a fine demonstration of maneuver. After that we headed to find a rectangular course and do ground reference maneuvers. Rectangular course was just fine, the only thing was to hold the crab angle with wind condition. I demonstrate the turn around a point and right after that S turns.

That was time to head back to home. I approached to use the GPS to find our way home, but he asked me not to use it (GPS was out !!), so looking outside and pilotage, I found my approximate location and turned to the base. We were on 1500 AGL at that point that suddenly he pulled the throttle and asked me to simulate and emergency landing. I trimmed to fly 59 knts and did my reverse L check and start looking outside for a landing spot. I decided to land on an open field, choose the direction against the wind ans start my descend. 10 degree flaps, 20 degree , 30 degree and I’m just about 50 ft AGL !!!! I’m asking if I’m going to do a real landing on desert, then he asked me to GO around, so adding power and going around was performed and we were back on track to go to WJF. I called in ATIS, and same wind report, winds 18 gusting to 25. It was the last landing I had to perform. I made all my concentration, made proper crab angle and headed to the runway holding rudder to straight the plane. In a moment I was landed, out of the runway and taxing to transit parking.

We stopped, turned off the plane and it was done. I was complete with the check ride, but couldn’t tell anything from his expressions yet. I was wet sweeting in a 92 temperate. I collect all my stuff, grabbed my log book and walked to the building. He was already behind computer and had IACRA site open. It was the moment to see what is going to happen. I did what I had in my power and I was satisfied with my performance too. Of course today’s winds had a big impact on my overall performance, but I had performed well. Looking on this hand, he clicked on PASSED. That was it, I was a private pilot. Dreams were over and I accomplished what I worked very hard through past year and dreamed for almost entire my life time.

The feeling of being empowered and accomplishment filled my entire soil and body, it was the best feeling, something that you are really proud of yourself and a YES moment. The job was well done.

We walked to the same room that we had our oral exam. He went over the de-briefing and reviews entire test. He explained me the areas that I need to pay more attention too. Then grabbed my log book and signed for the flight, 1.7 hrs, 4 landings, check ride test, passed.

After having lunch with DPE, that was time for victory flight back home. I got in the plane and start the engine for the first time as Private Pilot in command. Checked ATIS, taxied to runway 24, run up the plane and ready for take off. 5 minutes later I was in the air headed to WHP. It was great to be back in WHP, but this time as a different pilot. I landed and headed for fuel. Turned off the engine and took my phone and talked to my wife. She was a big part of this, since my family made a lot of sacrifice during my training too. She always encouraged me and supported me during my training.

On my surprise I saw my CFI standing right by the plane, he was happy and shared my success as I stepped down the plane. It was happy moment for both of us. Mission was accomplished.

As DPE told me when he was handing the Airman Certificate, I got a student pilot certificate for life to learn about flying. My real training starts now, to be a safe pilot.


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