Busted checkride - don't know where to go from here

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Sureshot, Apr 28, 2021.

  1. Sureshot

    Sureshot Filing Flight Plan

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    I have been part of a 141 program since late 2019. I had to balance work and flight training but usually was able to fly at least once a week, weather permitting. Weather is a huge factor here, as there's plenty of days that make it a no-go. On top of that, the flight school had few instructors, only 2 planes, and about 30 students going for various ratings. To make matters worse, COVID hit and the school shut down for a few months, and after getting back in the saddle, here I was in April 2021 signed off for a checkride at just over 70 hours. I'm usually pretty hard on myself and like to hold a high standard, but after 2 mock checkrides from 2 CFI's, they both sign me off and say they are very confident. Altogether, my PPL flight training cost me over $16,000 and has went way over budget so I'm looking forward to having something to show for it.

    Now the DPE the school uses is notorious for his temper and outbursts. I've met him several times in passing prior, and he lived up to his reputation. Anything from politics to mentioning David Clark headsets are tight on the head I've seen him go into a fit of yelling at the person closest to him. Everyone walks on eggshells and triple thinks before they talk when he's around. I like to think I have a very thick skin, and hardly ever get offended. I have a military background, and I'm used to rough environments. But he's something else.

    Checkride day comes and have a knot in my stomach the size of a football. We start the oral and at this point I'm more nervous about him than I am about my knowledge/performance. First question out the gate, and he gives me a long-winded scenario about flying to another town to see a friend, who has another friend who I don't know, and his car is broken down in my town, and now he wants to fly with me, and he has all this baggage etc. Ok. He asks me "What do you need for this flight, now that you have this passenger and stuff?" and answer confidently "Well, now that I have a passenger I'm going to need to make sure I have my 3 takeoffs and-" at which point he yells "Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! First question huh? Try again!" I'm so nervous that I feel sick so I start stuttering out other requirements and eventually he moves on. The rest of the oral is like this, and by the end of the hour, I'm stuttering out stupid answers and rethinking my life decisions for $16,000, Alex. I end up passing, nonetheless.

    On to the flight, and he's already ****ed because there's a rip in the interior pocket of his plane he never noticed before as he's trying to adjust himself to climb in the plane (he's a big guy). As he does so, my pen must've rolled underneath the seat since he bumped into my XC paperwork as he climbed in. I don't realize this until I'm getting the weather, and I ask him if he saw my pen by chance, and he just stares at me ****ed not saying a word. ATIS is on it's 2nd go around, and I luckily spot a pen left by another student and use that.

    That set the tone for the remainder of the flight. He pretty much yells at me every chance he gets. ATC had us extend out on runway heading on departure for incoming traffic, and he yelled at me for not requesting other directions from ATC. He yells at me for one reason or the other on each maneuver. I won't go on and on for each instance, but each time he talked, I found him to be very unclear between all his hollering. One specific instance, he told me to bring the plane to idle. He had been mumbling about the broken EGT in his plane throughout the flight, so I wondered if that had something to do with it. I wait for further instructions before he asks "What are you doing!?" and I just gave a nervous chuckle and said "You get that EGT figured out?" before responding "No! What do you think I'm having you do?" I was honestly dumbfounded and a nervous wreck, and thought maybe he wanted me to perform engine out procedures. Luckily I was right and without asking any further, I performed the necessary steps.

    I'm completely over it by now, and want nothing more than to quit. I get the weather, and write it down. I notice another plane on my GPS but I hear Tower giving him clearance to land straight in, and know this will be no factor as I'm coming in for what I imagine will be a left base as I'm 10 miles away. It's the top of the hour, and I'm thinking I'm probably going to get new numbers before going in. I'm looking down at the Zulu time and doing the math in my head real quick while at the same time making my radio call to the tower. As I'm doing so, he grabs the top of my headset and physically yanks my head up, putting the mic into my eye, and yells "Are you seriously writing your radio calls and reciting it?!" I bite my lip, show him my kneeboard and say "It's just the weather." I'm stunned that he did this, but think to myself I never want to fly again with him, so let's just do the landings and get this over with.

    To collect my thoughts, I back off the throttle just a touch to about 2300 to calm my shot nerves, and prepare for my short field landing. There's no traffic in the area any longer and ATC is laid back. As I'm flying in, he grabs my hand and shoves the throttle to full "Let's go! Why are you slow rolling! This is ********!!" I almost went to assert my PIC authority, but really don't need my face to find itself against the six pack with a potential outburst, so I don't say anything. Radar service is terminated with tower, and I squak 1200 in response, not thinking about them never saying Squak VFR (my mistake) and the DPE of course, starts yelling at me about it as I'm preparing to turn base to final. I muttered something about "sanitized cockpit" as I'm pretty shaken up and put in my crosswind correction down to land. My leg is shaking as I apply rudder cause I'm so nervous. Winds were at 18G28, so I knew this was going to be challenging but hey, at least this hell of a flight is almost over and I can change out of this soaking wet shirt. I chose the thousand foot markers, came down on centerline and....touched down too early. DPE screams "WHAT WAS THAT? NOT ACCEPTABLE! PARK IT!"

    After sitting alone for a few minutes in the plane after parking, I walked in and got my letter of disapproval. All that being said, I know I made some mistakes during the flight, I was not perfect, and do not claim to be whatsoever. But I'm left wondering if I would have done better if it wasn't for my DPE constantly yelling at me and putting me on edge. I'm not sure, as I have about zero confidence right now. I know some of you will probably think I'm exaggerating or whatnot because I got a pink slip, and I get where you're coming from. But to counter, this DPE is even mentioned by name on Reddit a few years back for similar behavior on a commercial checkride. I take full responsibility if I fail something of my own doing, pink slip or otherwise.

    Anyways - I want to get my PPL wrapped up. But I have reservations about taking a retake with this same DPE, my CFI has just left for another job and I really liked him, but at the same time, don't know if it's really worth it traveling somewhere far away for retraining and another DPE. I'm doing my best to think over what I could do better, what my weaknesses are truly, and filtering out everything else. I've always wanted to learn to be a pilot, and want to perform at a high standard, I just don't know what to do next. Any advice or insight from folks that are far more experienced than me is appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
  2. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

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    The DPE needs to be reported to the FAA for his conduct.
     
  3. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    That does not sound like a very positive experience. I have a lot of questions regarding why the flight school uses him, whether his POI is aware of his demeanor, and why you were taking a practical test on a day with winds gusting to nearly 30kts, etc.

    The short answer is that the most expedient action is to get some training time with your CFI and finish the test. Don't let it get you down. Once it's all over and done you can divorce yourself of him, the flight school, whatever.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    The fact that your school is aware and tolerates his behavior speak volumes...
     
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  5. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    So, lemons to lemonade. Did you receive credit for completing any of the flight portion?
     
  6. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Where are you located?
     
  7. GaryM

    GaryM Line Up and Wait

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    You'll finish. I recommend figuring out how to do it with a different DPE, but you've come this far. You'll finish.
     
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  8. Sureshot

    Sureshot Filing Flight Plan

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    Oh good question on the winds. The winds were only 6kts at the beginning and wasn't forecasted to get that bad. It came up rather quick.

    I did. Everything minus the landing portions.
     
  9. Adventure Aviator

    Adventure Aviator Pre-Flight

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    He grabs top of headset.... not acceptable. I would have kindly shown him the door :)
     
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  10. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    You need to document everything that happened with that DPE and give it to the school in writing and ask for a written response on why they use him.
     
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  11. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    Good job. Your choices are to start over with a new DPE or do the landings with this one. You’re the PIC and the only person who can decide whether you want this guy in your plane again. I don’t care if it’s a school plane or not, when you’re operating it it is your plane.
     
  12. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Sucks that there are so many miserable DPE and instructors out there. Aviation is a passionate hobby for many and not a cheap one.. sucks that there are curmudgeons out there that ruin it for so many
     
  13. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Thankfully the vast majority of DPEs are decent and fair, but it only takes a few to spoil the bunch.

    Normally flight schools and instructors get wind of who the bad ones are and steer clear. It sound like this DPE owns a plane that's on leaseback with the school, so it sounds like there could be a conflict of interest. Either way, if I was the OP I would document everything and make a factual report with the DPE's principle operations inspector...preferably after you've finished up the re-test on the remaining tasks.
     
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  14. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    The OP referenced the DPE being upset over an airplane in "his plane" suggesting that it's a lease-back owned by the DPE, and the school relies on him to provide at least 50% of the school's rental fleet. No planes -> no school. Seems like a conflict of interest.
     
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  15. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    Yeah. While it is considered uncommon by some I have seen the FAA take action regarding rogue examiners. In the situation I was involved with the examiners letter was removed and several unsatisfactory rides were taken off of pilot records.

    Definitely a situation that requires discretion but that does not mean there are no checks and balances.
     
  16. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It is unfortunate to hear of your experience. I have had instructors like that, and a DPE like that, though not as bad as your situation. I would find a different DPE and finish the checkride. Its tough to keep going, but once you get past it the reward is wonderful.
    Look forward to a better day, get your license and enjoy it!

    I also think you should report the DPE. Checkrides are stressful enough, no reason to be berated the whole time.
     
  17. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Wow, you are way too patient. That debacle is not on you, I wouldn't ride with him again.
     
  18. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    Grabbed headsets, I would have elbowed him in the face and said he threatened the safety of the flight.
     
  19. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That was so painful to read. I would avoid that environment again at all costs. Find another DPE. Find another school if you have to. Learning to fly should be relatively enjoyable and getting tested should challenge you, not abuse you. If the DPE is as you describe, it is inexcusable. Makes my Instrument check ride (many years ago) with “grouchy” look much better now.
     
  20. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    David Clarks are tight on my head. I can't think why such a boring and universal fact would arouse passion in anyone, much less to stir them to shout and abuse passersby.

    Did you relay this tale to the signing instructor? Did they have advice to share? I'd be switching DPEs or quitting and getting a boat I think. With the sunk 16 grand, I'd probably finish out of stubbornness and hate flying after that.
     
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  21. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    hahahaha.. I'd do the same.

    I absolutely hate them. Not sure the obsession with David Clarks. Stupid name too.. my ears get sweaty and they're tight. But I agree... why would he get enraged by that?


    ..just for ****s and giggle$ I'd be curious what the DPE's side of the story is.. or why the school uses him if he has such a reputation
     
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  22. Marshall Alexander

    Marshall Alexander Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I did my CFI checkride last week, the first thing the examiner told me was "first, my job is to try to get you to relax". Doesn't sound like this guy wants anyone to relax. I think I'd be pretty apt to stick my finger in his face and tell him NOBODY talks to me like that, in a nice civil tone. Then I'd probably ask him what kind of problems he's having at home. But then again, I'm old enough and don't really care what I say to people anymore.

    I wish I knew where you are. I'd like to find the guy and jerk his chain about the DCs.lol
     
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  23. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I had a similar DPE although not near as bad. He never physically touched me but was just condescending about everything. I did everything correctly except actually turning the master switch off on an electrical fire scenario explaining that my CFI always had me simulate turning off the master. He failed me for that. I know how you feel as far as being nervous. As I was answering the same wonky questions during the oral, I kept looking outside the window at the huge American flag popping in the wind and knew I was going to be challenged on the flight portion. Surprisingly, the master switch thing was the only failure. After landing and a quick trip to the ATM with another Benjamin Franklin, we went back up and had the same scenario. This time I turned off the master switch and I made sure that I showed him the checklist which required talking to ATC about my location etc. The second flight lasted 15 minutes.

    Anyway, not a year later he was being evaluated by an FAA DPE examiner on another flight with another student. Three people in the plane (how would you have liked to been that guy?) The examiner didn't like my DPE's methods and as a result, he is no longer a DPE. For a little while in the back of my mind, I was happy, then worried that they would have to re-evaluate all the candidates he had passed recently. Nothing ever happened.

    Don't beat yourself up about it. His time will come and karma is a beech. Just find a way not to use him next time.
     
  24. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Where you located? Find another DPE. If you managed to survive that fiasco, you’re probably ready to pass (your instructor and mock examiner said you were ready). Take a break, then go after it.
     
  25. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Wow. Why would you pay someone to do that to you? If you go back to him, you’re condoning the behavior. Just my opinion.
     
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  26. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    And now, for the rest of the story....

    Paul Harvey, good day..!!
     
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  27. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    I believe it is up to the DPE's discretion whether to retest items previously completed satisfactorily, that's regardless if he uses the same one, or a different one.
     
  28. Roland Donnell

    Roland Donnell Filing Flight Plan

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    Ha! Sounds like my mom. Suck it up and get it done. Had very similar experiences. Instruments only time was lighting a big cigar and blowing smoke up under my hood. Pattern work ..."Can you see the runway". (Corner pillar blocking my view) "Uh no". Big hand on my back pushing my chest toward the panel. "Now can you see the runway". "Yes Sir!" I had a big brother with mean friends so all that stuff didn't bother me at all.
     
  29. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route

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    If the guy is such a prick why does the school use him??
     
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  30. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    Huh, I don’t doubt that based on the wording in the LoD “this letter may be used to show the following portions of the practical test which have been completed previously...”

    I’ve never heard of the same DPE not accepting it, but I guess it can happen. At that point I’d probably elect to either not fork over the cash to start the continuance, or stop then and there if we already started it back up out of pure personal principle.

    As I understand it, going to a new DPE is a complete do-over though. Never experienced that.
     
  31. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    +1. i'd make an appointment to visit the closest FSDO and describe for them what happened to you. a guy likec that is gonna get someone dead one day.
     
  32. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    That's not required as far as I can tell.
     
  33. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    He must have some friends at the FSDO in order to still be a DPE if he really behaves like that. :(
     
  34. Joe_B1

    Joe_B1 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Tell him you want to complete the check ride and take along a GoPro.
     
  35. Doctor Bob

    Doctor Bob Pre-Flight

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    You need to have a long talk with him about who is the customer and who is paying the bills. I had an instructor years ago who would yell and scream. After a little chit chat we came to terms and he was actually a good guy. Just needed a reminder of how NOT to act around people.
     
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  36. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The time for that conversation was when the guy grabbed his headset while it was still on his head.
     
  37. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    As soon as the ahole touched me I would have looked him in the eye and told him in that zero doubt, assertive voice to never, ever touch me again. That would have been quickly followed by giving him the choice to stop all swearing and yelling or the ride is over! Most likely he would have spooled up even more but asshats like that need to be challenged or they will keep pushing.

    I would try and learn more about who actually owns the flight school. Complaining to the "owner" just might be him as well. But this guy...if your side of the story is 100% correct needs to be extracted from his role of authority...period. let him rentbout his plane but not any ambassador of any type for flight training.

    Or....

    Just suck it up.

    Pass the ride.

    Then rent his pos plane, find some huge dude to ride with who will bust the seat and barf in the plane...seems his plane is more important than you being certified...the conflict of interest Brad Z wisely pointed out.
     
  38. Mike G

    Mike G Filing Flight Plan

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    My first instructor was a crabby old jerk. I remember when I was 16 years old and he was just being supper crabby for some reason in between his chain smoking so I told him off. I had never told off an elder before and haven't since. My guess is that he was in his late 40's. He was hurting my flying dream and I had had enough. After this he was much more pleasant and we understood each other.
    Don't let this guy get you down. People like him are very rare in the aviation world.
    My advice is to find a local experienced pilot to mentor you for your future flying. And go to a private instructor not with the 141 school.
    I have done this for quite a few people and helped them get their license. Start asking around and don't let this stop you.
     
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  39. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    .

    A crabby customer walked into our business and started berating one of my employees .... yelling , cursing , the whole works.

    I was off to the side watching , and as management I figured I should interject .... but didn't have to ...... my employee faced him and said .... I am not your wife , and I am not your dog , so don't yell at me.

    It worked.
     
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  40. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    Yea, I dealt with "screamer" instructors in the military and when I went went back to do my PPL/Inst I was very clear that as long as I was paying for it we would be operating in a calm professional manner. The Instructor and DPE I used was of a similar mindset. It's a shame we have these people in our community.

    It sounds like you passed everything except the precision landing ? If so, go fly with your instructor, get signed off, go fly a trip around the pattern with this guy. Then document your experience, see if others you can find had similar experiences. Go to the FSDO. My guess is others have. As much as we need examiners, we don't need his kind. Drum him out.
     
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