Learning to fly, but I ain't got wings

Month: June 2016

Check ride day has arrived, I can fly, I’m a pilot!

Today, only 48 hours after my surprise check ride scheduled, I am officially a certificated pilot!

The Stats

It has been a long road, 9 Months, here are the stats:

  • 53 flights
  • 66.9 hrs Flight Hours
  • 66.7 hrs Total Instruction Hours
  • 47.7 hrs Dual Instruction
  • 19.2 hrs Pilot in Command
  • 18.2 hrs Solo
  • 12.7 hrs cross country
  • 3.5 hrs simulated instrument
  • 154 landings

I hope that if anything, my journey to flight inspires others to embrace their dreams.  We only have one life to live, so we should all try our hardest to live our dreams.

For me, my new dream is when the Aliens attack, I can be this guy! 😀

check ride scheduled

2nd Check Ride Prep Session and a Surprise

Today (Sunday June 19th 2016, Fathers day no doubt) my instructor and I went over what we have left on the check ride prep.  As we were talking she said, let’s go ahead and get you scheduled for your check ride.  I told her that I would be on vacation the first week of July so she asked, the flight examiner, that we schedule it the second week of July.

The call was on speaker phone and I hear, “Do you think he is ready to do it sooner?”  My instructor asked when she had in mind.  The examiner replied “How about Tuesday afternoon, I will be there for another check ride. Do you think he will be ready?”  My instructor looked at me and I said that I am fine with the flying portion, I am concerned about the oral prep.  The examiner responded, “Well, do you think you can get him ready?”  My instructor said to go ahead and book it and we will do what we can.

The examiner seemed to be thrilled that she would be able to knock out two at the same airport that day.  I spoke with her a bit, getting some information about what I need to be prepared.


Suddenly, plans have changed.  My instructor looked at me and says, “For the next 48 hours, your butt is mine.  lol”  She then scheduled an afternoon flight with her, so now I would have two on this day.  Also she scheduled time on Monday evening (the next day) for oral prep and 2 hours of solo before the oral prep.   I would then take my check ride the next day, Tuesday June 21, 2016 at high noon.

We start our check ride prep the same as last time.  I perform a short field takeoff, and turned on course for my planned cross country to CLT.  After the first 3 checkpoints, we go through a couple of diversion scenarios.  Next she asked for clean slow flight at 50.  I pull carb heat, “You just failed your check ride”  Damn it!  Clearing turn!  I’ve not done that in a while.  Next, perform the clearing turn, and demonstrated slow flight clean. I performed a few turns in slow flight then another clearing turn and slow flight dirty. I perform a few turns in the dirty configuration.  Back to cruise.

“You’ve lost your engine”  This is where I become a moron for some reason.  I find a field and turn towards it.  For some unknown I decide in my brilliance to perform a right hand spiral.  You know, because, I have never done it before.

As you suspect, I totally blow the descent and would have died in a fire filled ball of aluminum.   We head back to 3000 ft, and I perform some climbing turns.  She ends up giving me another shot at it.

This time, I nailed it perfectly.  Instead of a right hand spiral down, I perform a nice well organized and familiar left hand pattern, drop flaps to 30 on final and eureka.  I got it right.

“What did you do differently this time?”  I replied that instead of being an idiot trying to do something that I have never done before, I did what was familiar and what I have practiced 100’s of times when landing.

Back to TTA for the ending of the first flight of the day.  I performed a soft field landing that was a little harder than it should have been.  She said to use the time Monday night to practice softs and shorts. As many as I can get in during the two hours.

While she was out for her next lesson, I sat in the club classroom and studied.

For the second, flight of the day, I performed a soft field take off.  It was ok, but not perfect.  We headed out on a course of west, just like we have done each ride except I wasn’t checking off waypoints.  Once I hit cruise, she pulled the throttle.  “You’ve lost your engine.”  As it happens we were over the same spot as last time.  This time, I nailed.  I flew to my touchdown point entered a downwind, base, final, full flaps.  Everything was perfect.

We headed back to TTA and I performed a sort of soft field landing, followed by a short field takeoff (it was good), and a really crappy short field landing.

I’m Ready?

As we taxied back, we talked about how I could make them better.  She remarked, “I know that you can do them, just use your time tomorrow night and do as many as you can.  I think you’re nervous because the ride has been scheduled.”  I nodded.  Just two weeks ago, I was nailing these things.  I will get the kinks worked out.

Now off to study.  I only have 44 hours left before my check ride.  I am still not convinced that I am ready and that it will actually happen but until it doesn’t, I will treat it like a certainty.



Sharpening my skills, I’m a bit too dull

Today, I was able to get back in the air with my primary instructor.  For this lesson and the next couple of lessons, it is all about the check ride.  So each flight will be a mock check ride with the goal of sharpening my skills.

The bird that we were flying in today just returned from an engine overhaul and new prop.  The prop seems to be slightly out of balance and around 1500 rpm, there was a weird vibration on the front end.  Not a safety hazard but enough that my instructor did not want to do the slow flight maneuvers today.

I started out with a Short Field takeoff, in which I did not get perfectly lined up with the runway. Evidently this is one of the examiners pet peeves, so I will make sure I do a better job of lining up in the future.

After liftoff, we turned on course for a mock flight plan to CLT.  I checked off the first 3 checkpoints on the route.  After she was satisfied, it was time to start some maneuvers.  This is how the actual check ride will go as well.  Once the examiner is pleased that you know what you are doing, they will cancel the cross country and you will begin your maneuvers.

First, She asked me for a diversion to IGX, approximate course, approximate distance, approximate time and approximate Fuel.  I turned on course and started tracking.  Next she asked me for another diversion to Harnett county.  Again, approximate course, distance, time and fuel burn.  This is the first time that I have done this but it wasn’t too bad.

Next I performed steep turns, first to the left and then to the right.  I nailed the turn to the left but dropped about 80 ft on the turn to the right.  This was within PTS standards          (+- 100 ft) but my instructor would like me to stay within 50 ft.

Next I went under the hood for some simulated instrument.  First maneuver was perform some standard rate turns.  Next we dialed in a VOR and I determined which radial we were currently on, then tracked a specific TO radial.

After the hood work, we did some constant speed descents and ascents, followed up by turns around a point.

Finishing up, we climbed to 2500 msl and performed a spiraling simulated engine out over the runway.  Which I ended up short of because I did not managed the wind properly. Ugh.

Overall, I did well.  She said that I would have passed my ride today but she wants to see me tighten up a few areas.  Probably two more flight sessions and some oral work and I will be ready for my check ride.  Getting close!


Polishing up for the CheckRide

Checkride is coming

I was able to get one flight in this week to finish up my simulated instrument requirements.  We were going to take advantage and polishing up on some ground reference maneuvers as well.

It was fairly windy which helped to build confidence in the ground reference, VOR tracking and soft field take offs and landings.

Everything seems to be coming together inside the airplane.  I am doing quite well with simulated instruments.  I was able to track a VOR 20 miles to crossing right over top and dealing with a pretty stiff wind that forced me to compensate for my track.  As we reached the VOR, My surrogate instructor said, “Well, you can’t do much better than that….. we are going to pass right over top”.  That made me feel good.

When we were finished with ground reference maneuvers we headed back to TTA.  The first landing was simulated engine out.  I landed halfway down the runway which was not optimal but we would have survived.  I also had a direct 8 kt crosswind that made it weird.

We lined up for one trip around the pattern and I elected to perform a soft field take off and landing.  If you have kept up with my training, you know that I thought we were going to crash on my first soft field takeoff in a stiff crosswind.  This time, I had it under control.

As I pushed the throttle in, I had the yoke full back.  The front wheel came off the ground and I released some back pressure but held the nose off the ground. (this was my mistake the first time, I held full back the whole time)  As the mains became light, I felt that crosswind as we danced a little on the left main then we ballooned a bit. I corrected and held us in the ground effect as we gained speed.

The landing went much the same way as the take off. As we entered ground effect, I applied a little power (~1200 rpm).  I had a lot of right rudder and the left wing dipped into the wind to counteract the crosswind.

We softly touched on the left main, then back up a little, softly touched the left main again, and up a little.  The third soft touch stuck and we settled down nicely. Of course I felt like I blew it but my surrogate instructor said that I did a nice job with the winds.

I think that this was the most satisfying take off and landing that I have had.  Mainly because I slayed a demon.  The first time I ever tried was an eye opening experience.  I felt like I as in control the entire time.

My primary instructor returns next week, so we will get down to some serious check ride prep, both oral and practical.  I am looking forward to it.  I’m ready!

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