Learning to fly, but I ain't got wings

Month: October 2018

Got it done! Checkride continued…

The title says it all, I got it done.  In order to complete my instrument rating I needed to go back up and cleanup a couple of things. Unusual Attitude Recovery, shoot a non-precision approach and a precision approach.

I think a lot of this came down to checkride jitters.  I always try to look on the bright side and I believe that shining a light on a few of these deficiencies will make me a better, safer pilot.  I definitely feel more confident in each phase of flight.  Now don’t get me wrong, there were still things on this ride that I can improve upon.  I think the important part here is that as pilots we are always learning and striving for improvement.

So today, I arrived at the club ready to go up to clean up a few things with a prep ride.  The weather was really wonky and didn’t line up with the TAF’s very well.  We could see things to the west going IFR and that weather was coming our way.  My instructor and I decided to review the approach plates and talk over some things before committing to the skies.

My examiner showed up by chance as he was working with another student.  He asked if we wanted to do the checkride after our flight and added there was no pressure if we don’t feel ready.  I responded that if the prep ride goes well, I would be game to give it a shot.

After a bit, my instructor and I decided that the ceilings were holding so we went up to practice UAR (Unusual Attitude Recoveries) and shoot the full ILS Y 03 approach with the procedure turn.  I was expecting this one on the ride from previous history.

Everything with the prep flight went well and I gained a lot of confidence in the procedures and felt ready.  Once the examiner showed back up after his current lesson, we did the final paperwork and briefed.

In this ride, I would takeoff and get vectors and altitude to the practice area where we would perform the Unusual attitude recoveries.  The examiner did a really good job yanking and banking to make sure I was nice and disoriented before saying “You have the flight controls, recover”.  The first time we were in a climbing left turn.  I performed the necessary corrections that I practiced.  Easy peasy.  Next after more banking back and forth, up and down.  “You have the flight controls, recover”.  This time we were in a descending right turn.  I applied the necessary corrections once again.

After these two maneuvers, I was told “Climb and maintain 2500, cleared direct OZOPE for the RNAV 21 approach”.  I dialed up the RNAV 21 approach and configured direct OZOPE in the GPS. As we neared OZOPE, I got the weather, briefed the approach and made sure the CDI, approach and radios were squared away.  The examiner failed the WAAS on the GPS so this would be an LNAV approach instead of an LPV approach.  Also, since the winds favored runway 03, we would make this a circling approach, so a little higher minimums.

The approach went pretty smooth, I made all of the stepdowns and made reports on the CTAF.  I messed up a radio call where I said I would go missed instead of circling to land runway 3.  A little prompt by the examiner and I cleaned up this call.  There was incoming traffic that I was coordinating with and the examiner keyed the mic to make them aware that I was on a checkride.  The traffic was gracious enough to give me a wide berth in honor of the checkride.  Much appreciated nameless radio traffic.

Once to circling minimums, I took the foggles off and set up on the downwind making sure to not bust my circling minimums.  “At what point can you descend below minimums?”  I answered that when you were in position to make a normal landing.  “What else do you need”.  I fumbled through this by saying when the runway was in sight.  Ultimately he coaxed the correct answer which is when the runway environment is in sight.  Language means everything in this business and I need to make sure that I am more accurate in my language.

Once abeam the runway touchdown point on downwind I was give vectors and altitude. “Fly heading 300, climb and maintain 2200.  Once ready, fly direct IKTOW for the ILS Y 03 approach.”  I took my time climbing and cleaning up the heading.  I changed the approach in the GPS to the ILS Y 03 approach.  Once I was stable and took a breath, I configured direct IKTOW and made the turn.  I next informed approach, my examiner, that I was now direct IKTOW for the ILS Y 03 approach.

Next I got the weather again to confirm the winds still favored Runway 03.  I set the radios including the ILS frequency.  I briefed the approach and went through my flow.  I had everything dialed in and briefed a teardrop entry for the procedure turn for the approach.  As I got closer, the examiner cleared me for the approach, “Cross IKTOW at 22oo cleared for the ILS Y 03 approach.”.  Ok, now cleared and as I crossed I made a slight course correction to catch the teardrop entry.  Now I knew that I needed to ID the ILS Nav frequency and as I turned back toward the approach course I verified NAV 2, Verified NAV 1 on the GPS had ID lit up on the GPS and verified NAV1 audibly.

I had descended down to 2100 in the procedure turn and cleaned up a little before I reached IKTOW.  After crossing IKTOW, next HEDYY would be my FAF and glideslope intercept point.  I made the radio calls that I was on final and appropriate distances.  As I intercepted the glideslope, I started down.  Throttle 1800, 5oo fpm descent like I have done so many times before.  I started getting butterflies because it’s almost over.  I was hyper focused on the needles making small adjustments to remain on the glideslope.  As I reached the DA of 460, I took off the foggles and configured to land.

Taxi’d back to the ramp making a little small talk but I was pretty sure that I passed.  After I shutdown, the examiner said, “Well, Are you going to shake my hand?”  I passed.  It was a great feeling.  A lot of hard work culminated in this outcome.  My instructors and the examiner all contributed to making me a better pilot.  I am now an instrument rated pilot.

As I type, I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet.  Ultimately, this is just another step on the journey to be a better pilot.  I try my best to learn from the lessons of others and never take things for granted.

A big thank you to all of the club members and instructors who have helped me out along the way.  You know who you are and I am forever grateful.

What’s next?  Well, I am going to exercise my new privileges and build some time.  Next up is commercial but I need another 100 hours to make that happen.  I see a lot of flying in my future. I will still try to post here from time to time as I complete currency flights and some lessons here and there.

I hope the outcome of these blog posts inspire others to embrace their passion for flight and either get that PPL or add on rating.

My final totals for this rating:

Total PIC Cross-Country: 53.3 Hrs

Actual or Simulated Instrument: 42.6 Hrs

Actual or simulated instrument flight training: 22.0 Hrs

# of approaches completed: 34


Checkride day!!

I know it has been a while since I have posted but checkride day is upon me.  Mainly studying and getting ready for my checkride.  I enlisted the help of a second instructor to get a different perspective on my abilities. I felt confident and ready to go.

I’ll save you the suspense.  I failed.

I make no excuses, they were things that I should have done.  My instructors were top notch in getting me prepared, I just messed up on a couple of things.  The examiner was fair and gave me a few little nudges along the way, I just blew it.

I showed up early to get things ready for the oral portion. Also to study a few last things before the examiner arrived.  Once the examiner arrived, we did some paperwork, IACRA, signed off on acknowledging that I am PIC, pilot’s bill of rights, etc.

Once this was completed, we headed to the club classroom for the oral portion.  This part went pretty well.  There were a couple of things that I wasn’t 100% on but you don’t have to be perfect.  We completed the oral portion pretty fast, I felt pretty good about it.

For the flight portion, we filed IFR because of a few low clouds in the area.  I filed via foreflight and then called to pick up my clearance with the understanding that I would call back for my release.

I was cleared to TTA via Direct Liberty, KSCR, TTA as per my filed plan.  This would have us perform the VOR-A approach. Next, I briefed and prepped and after a nudge I tuned in the VOR to verify the vor.  Almost blew the ride here because I was nearly at LIB and almost performed a teardrop entry instead of the parallel entry that the gps sequenced.  I got a little flustered with this because I was slightly behind the aircraft.  ok, back on I performed the procedure turn and headed back in towards Liberty VOR.

This is where I screwed up.  I was told I could use the GPS for this approach but the problem is, I don’t think I have ever done a VOR-A approach with the GPS.  Not an excuse just trying to layout the chain of events.

Once I crossed the Liberty VOR I Started the clock as normal for a timed approach.  However since I was using GPS I could follow it instead.  The Examiner even said, “Are you doing a timed approach or GPS”?  Hint… ugh.  So, for the VOR-A at KSCR there is waypoint VAYRU that if you’re using the GPS you can step down from 1380 to 1240.  However with the timed approach, you can’t.  I have always performed the timed approach and even though I saw VAYRU Sequence, part of me said if I stepped down I would fail.  So I didn’t step down…. I failed.

This is where I let it get to my head.  I performed the missed approach back to LIB when the examiner said I failed.  I elected to continue, might as well right?  Well after back with ATC, they put me on a vector (Which I sucked at today) and asked which approach I would like.  I told them the RNAV 21.  At this point the examiner asked ATC if we could have a block altitude.  This meant we were going to perform an unusual attitude recoveries.  Well, the only thing I thought about during the unusual attitude recovery was the failure, so guess what…. I messed that up as well.

Shake it off.  The examiner requested we ask ATC for the full approach instead of vectors, so we were given OZOPE.  I flew to OZOPE and began the approach.  My clearance was descend 2000 to YUXI cleared for the RNAV 21 approach.  I thought this was weird because the route segment said 2000.  When I got down to 2200 I asked ATC to re-confirm my clearance to 2000 and she affirmed.  So I descended to 2000.  After about a minute, ATC apologized and asked me to climb to 2200.  I didn’t get dinged here because I asked for verification. After YUXI, I descended, albeit late, down to 2000 for the glidepath intercept.  At this point I was partial panel with no attitude or directional gyro.  It was ok, I had the GPS.

I flew the rest of this approach with no issues and as we descended, the examiner said to go ahead and cancel IFR because we could do the rest of the ride in VFR weather.  I flew the missed and then was vectored to the west with intention of intercepting the ILS Y 03.  At this point I screwed up again.  I started to setup my flows and when I got to verifying the ILS We were still too far away so I said out loud, “I need to verify the ILS”  Guess what I forgot to do once established?  Yep, didn’t verify ILS.  I looked at the ID on the GPS but didn’t say anything about it being ID’d that way.

Flew the rest of the ILS just fine and landed.  Ride over. Confidence in the gutter. I never thought it would happen. I feel lousy not because of me but because I feel that I let my instructors down and one of them got a ding on there record for a failed checkride.

What next?  Let’s look at the bright side.  This was the real deal.  IFR weather on the checkride.  Not a lot of people get that opportunity.  And the best part was, that wasn’t my issue.  I handled being in the system just fine.  Made the radio calls.  Only real radio call issue, I had to ask them to repeat one call because I was briefing out loud to the examiner.  I feel good about catching the route altitude problem.  I let the first issue (Stepdown) cause the second issue (Unusual Attitude Recovery) and the third issue (Verifying the ILS) was just me forgetting.  If it wasn’t for those things, it was a pretty fun ride.  I was able to function well, for the most part, through the 2nd and 3rd approaches even though I was pretty distraught.

The silver lining in this whole process is that my original goal was to be a safer pilot.  Even though I worked hard and thought I was ready, this experienced shined a light on some deficiencies. Maybe it isn’t what I wanted but what I needed to get to the next level, to be a safer pilot.

It won’t get me down. In the next post, I will be posting about my success.  Stay Tuned!


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