Did it used to be "plan your checkride XC in 30 minutes"?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by RussR, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    I seem to remember for my Private checkride in 1994 that I didn't find out where to plan a XC flight to until I showed up, then the examiner gave me 30 minutes to do so. This included plotting the course, choosing checkpoints, calling FSS for the weather and doing the wind, time and fuel calculations.

    This seems like a lot to do in 30 minutes, so I'm wondering if my memory is faulty. Was this a normal requirement back then? Or was my examiner making up his own rules? If it was a real thing, when did it change?
     
  2. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I don’t specifically remember it from my Private checkride, but it was a PTS requirement for the Commercial in 1985 that you plan a cross country to the max range of the airplane (mine was from Ames, IA, to Dallas, TX) in 30 minutes.

    personally, I think that has some advantages...you’re more likely to plan it like you would in real life rather than doing something just for the examiner.
     
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  3. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    2002 I brought my flight plan to the check ride.

    Z98 --> CMI
     
  4. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    I don’t remember whether or not it was in the PTS but in 1996 I definitely had to plan at the ride and had a limited time available. It was that way for the private in 96 and the commercial in 99. If it was just the examiner there must have been a conspiracy.
     
  5. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Seems like a poor idea to encourage the opposite of being thorough. Were preflight inspections timed as well?
     
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  6. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Mine in 1970 wasn't really timed, but time was limited. He watched everything I did, and asked questions along the way. I didn't know where, but he often used the same route. The flight could not be flown VFR. He wanted me to make that decision. I had heard that was a gotcha. The weather was pretty marginal for a private ride that day, but we did the maneuvers VFR on top after leaving on a special VFR. It really wasn't private ride weather that day. WE crossed that bridge before we got to the plane. Since he was a CFII all could be flown legally. He was happy to record actual and a VOR approach in my log book after the ride. All was good. Not the last time in my career I was to do a check ride that could not be flown.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
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  7. Vince R

    Vince R Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes, I remember the 30 minute “rule” from way back when.

    As I recall, I was a little nervous and took maybe 40 minutes - at which point the examiner informed me that since I was over his 30 minute limit, he could fail me right there. To boot, it was a cold (20ish) day, and don’t you know we go outside and I can’t get the plane started before the battery gives out. “Clearly you haven’t received proper instruction in cold weather operations...”

    We kept going, but it made for a tense checkride. Funny thing was that the old guy was so gruff with me, I figured I had zero chance of passing, so I relaxed and did fine.
     
  8. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    My commercial in 2020 wasn’t timed but was done during the oral. He “forgot” to send me the cross country trip to plan in advance. It was actually fun.
     
  9. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    Thirty minutes seems like more than ample time to plan a VFR XC. These days, you could even download the appropriate weather and NOTAMS within that time period. I don't remember taking that much time for my PPL flight planning.
     
  10. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member

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    I took mine in '95 and seem to remember having to do the planning right there on the spot, although I don't know if there was an 'official' time limit or not.
     
  11. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I did private in early '93 I think, or late '92. I was given a 30 minute time limit to do the cross country planning. This included a call to the FSS to get all the information.

    I was not completely finished at 30 minutes, but he didn't come back in the room until after I had finished.
     
  12. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    The FAA apparently agrees. That’s probably one reason most pilots are taught to do it one way for the checkride, but told to do something entirely different one the checkride’s over.
     
  13. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    Obviously it was sufficient for me and many others, since I passed. But it wasn't really a whole lot of time. Draw a route on the chart, including to the other side of the chart or piecing them together, picking checkpoints, calling the FSS, sitting on hold, having them give you the weather, NOTAMS, along the route, working the E-6B for wind correction, doing all the math for magnetic heading and fuel burn for each leg, planning your descent, maybe sketching the airport diagram and pattern entries, noting frequencies, calculating takeoff and landing distances, etc. It was busy.
     
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  14. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep, 30 minutes in 94 when I got my PPL. Easy today with all the tech assisting but back then 30 minutes was a PiTA, especially with the 130 mile route. Ended up busting me because I took 35 minutes and planned it through a restricted area because I was in a hurry. FAA came to visit me a couple months later conducting an investigation on that examiner. Apparently he had a trend of busting student pilots on check rides. I could tell the guy was shady.
     
  15. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    With Transport Canada in 2002, I'm pretty sure I was given the destination the night before and told to plan. We already have the written exam to test our ability to perform parts of the planning process under time pressure (twiddling the E6B, figuring out airspace, etc), so the PPL is more to test how well we'd prepare for a real-life flight. There might have been some scenarios based on the planning in real-time, e.g. "OK, Airport X just changed its TAF to this; would you still start the flight? Upper winds just changed to Y; will you still have enough fuel to meet legal reserves?" etc.
     
  16. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    My private check ride was January 1994. I vaguely recall him coming in, giving me an assignment to plan a XC to a destination (on the other side of the chart, a concept kids today will never understand, lol), running out to do something, then coming back and finishing the oral portion.

    For some reason I remember only having to whiz-wheel a portion of it; I can’t remember if that was part of the preflight or just in the air. I recall only having to complete one or two checkpoints in the air.

    I still have my 1994 Private PTS. I’ll look it up.
     
  17. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    I had the same experience, although I don't remember a time limit. For my commercial, I got the info before hand and spent half a day planning, checking, and double checking, then revising for the weather day of. I think the old way is better and should give the examiner a better estimation of your real skills.
     
  18. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  19. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Indeed, 30 minutes. But I let 'em get the weather first for free and gave 'em another 15 minutes after planning and figuring the fuel load for doing W&B and takeoff/landing calculations. It was tight on time, but do-able if they used a checklist.
     
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  20. ARFlyer

    ARFlyer En-Route

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    Mine was given to me the day before. However as an instructor I always made my students plan one of the long Commercial X/Cs in an hour or less while at the airport. I’d tell them once you’re in the real world Mr. Big Roller isn’t going to wait on you to make your pretty checkpoint labels.
     
  21. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    In the real world no one really plans a cross country like we did for the check ride.

    Range of plane: 7 hours
    Range of bladder: 3 hours.

    Yup, I got enough fuel.
     
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  22. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    It did not encourage a lack of thoroughness. It required competency at planning a flight.
     
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  23. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    I agree with this. In order to do it in 30 minutes, you had to know what you were doing. You couldn't be trying to figure out the E-6B, or looking up how to do fuel calculations. You had to have a system so you didn't waste time on the phone with Flight Service, calling them before you had the information they needed, for example.

    On the other hand, now people spend hours and hours planning their checkride XC's, which is not necessary either. I mean, a VFR XC flight should not take days to plan. But people take days to do it, because they HAVE days to do it.

    It reminds me of a story my dad told me once. He was in high school I believe, and it was a Friday, and the teacher was handing out a test. The teacher gave the class a choice - it was either due at the end of class, or on Monday morning. Of course, the class voted for Monday morning. Unfortunately, as my dad and his classmates learned, if it was due at the end of class, it would have taken them an hour to complete (for better or worse). But instead, all of them spent many, many hours on it over the weekend when they'd rather be doing other stuff - they spent hours on it because they COULD spend hours on it.
     
  24. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    In the U.S., do you have a "diversion" exercise in your PPL flight test like Transport Canada has up here (or, at least, did back in 2002)? That's where you go fairly low (about 1,500 ft AGL), the examiner picks somewhere on the map, and you have to plan your diversion to there — time, heading, etc — right in the cockpit, then fly it at low altitude and prove you can get there. That seems like a better test of competency than sitting in a classroom with an examiner watching you, because you actually have to fly the plane while you're doing the planning. Lots of rule-of-thumb and not much E6B, of course.
     
  25. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Yeah, the diversion for me happened just after the first checkpoint.
     
  26. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Was just going to reply the same thing
     
  27. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    “Low altitude” isn’t a requirement, but yes, a diversion is.
     
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  28. elvisAteMySandwich

    elvisAteMySandwich Pre-Flight

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    It's Parkinson's Law. "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion".
     
  29. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    I honestly do not remember. Did my PPL in 1985, and don’t remember any stress about planning.
     
  30. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Did commercial in 1986ish...? Don’t even recall having to plan a flight.
     
  31. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    Don’t sweat it man. I’m sure I won’t remember mine when I’m old too.

    :biggrin:
     
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  32. Marshall Alexander

    Marshall Alexander Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I did my PPL checkride in 1977. I honestly don't remember even planning a xc AT ALL.
     
  33. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Man, I would fail that part if I was only given 30 minutes :(. I'm almost to my checkride so I must have literally planned about 20-30 XC's by now (weather interrupted plenty). I usually planned my route in one sitting and put everything in I could minus the winds and related calcs. Of course they were always R/T so it was really two flights to plan I guess. But picking check points every 10-15nm seemed to end up with about 10 check points or so including my calculated TOC and TOD. Then the day of I'd do the wind calcs, times, fuel and that would seem to take me 30-40 minutes for each flight... so for a round trip (2 flight plans), I don't think I ever spent less than an hour to 1.5hrs and that was after I had plotted all my check points that were 10-15nm apart the day before. I guess I'm slow. But I haven't had my CFI question anything yet that I couldn't answer or back up... so I guess there's that.
     
  34. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I think part of it is the perceived need to have checkpoints every 10-15 miles, usually driven by the fact that your instructor needs to see you make your progress calculations a few times in a relatively short flight. I’d pick one or two fairly close to the departure point so you can get a quick progress estimate (and allow the examiner to say, “good enough...on to the next thing”) and spread the rest out.
     
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  35. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    On any checkride I’ve sent people to, seen, heard of, or remember, there’s been no need to plan the flight as a round trip. You’re not going to ever actually make it to the destination anyway, before some divert scenario happens and then the maneuvers start.
     
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  36. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    IMHO, the checkpoint times and fuel burn are where the old fashion E6b shines. Set it once, and all checkpoint time or fuel are right there.
     
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  37. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Mine was also 1995, and that was my recollection as well. I remember calling FS right then and there, taking notes, and then relaying the information to the examiner. I don't think it was timed, but 30 minutes doesn't seem unreasonable to plan at 200 nm (or so) x-country.
     
  38. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don’t remember planning a Cross Country at all. Just went up and did some stalls, a little hood time with unusual attitudes and an engine out. It was 1977.
     
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  39. BillTIZ

    BillTIZ Final Approach

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    1974, a brisk winter day. Examiner crawled out of one C-150 after completing that check ride and climbed into my C-150. Sitting in the pax seat he said plan a flight from here to (KASH) to Minute Man (6B6). He's out of the wind with the door closed, I'm standing on the ramp, door open, seat back folded down for a desk and unfolded the paper chart, drew a line, measured it, came up with a heading, spun the wind (I already had forecast wind aloft) for course correction and ground speed, circled a few points on the chart for visual check points, came up with an ETE, checked the AF/D for information, made notes, penciled in a flight plan filing form and handed it to him. He watched me do it all. He looked at the form, asked if I had preflighted the airplane and how much fuel, then said, "Lets Go".
     
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  40. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    I do not believe there was ever a requirement to do the xc planning during the oral.