Passed Private Pilot Checkride (Flight Portion)

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by ClassAlpha, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. ClassAlpha

    ClassAlpha Filing Flight Plan

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    ClassAlpha
    This is the second post related to my checkride experience. My first post related to the oral exam and thoughts on ACS vs PTS is linked below:
    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/community/threads/passed-private-pilot-checkride-acs-vs-pts.99245/

    This post is all about the flying portion. Before going into detail about my checkride, here are some general tips for those getting ready for their checkride.

    1. You are the PIC. Act like it. My goal was to maintain altitude plus or minus 20 feet throughout the flight in between maneuvers (probably ended being more like +/- 50 feet). Clearing turns should be precise and smooth. Do not be afraid to assert yourself – I had to tell my examiner to give his mouth shut (politely!) a couple times when I heard ATC talking to me.

    2. Take your time and focus on one task at a time. One of my steep turns was not as great as I would have liked and could have easily thrown me off for the rest of the flight. As long as he doesn’t state that you failed a task, you have not failed, so do not dwell on prior errors. Just know that you will make some mistakes, the DPE is not looking for perfection, and be prepared to move on and focus on the next task.

    3. Do not forget to breath. It will keep you focused and (relatively) relaxed.

    4. Execute your checklists. It will keep you focused and safe.

    5. Trust your training. Your instructor would never have signed you off unless he/she feels you are prepared. Keep this in mind whenever you feel an inkling of self-doubt.
     
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  2. ClassAlpha

    ClassAlpha Filing Flight Plan

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    THE FLIGHT PORTION OF MY EXAM

    Before going out to the airplane, the DPE provided a briefing on the plan for the flight, informing me which maneuvers we would do and in what order. Short field takeoff, cross country to first checkpoint, instrument work (180 turn out of a clod, unusual altitudes, direct to VOR, climbs/descents), steep turns, slow flight, power off stall, power on stall, simulated engine failure and go around, turns around a point, return to airport for short field landing to a stop and then soft field takeoff, soft field landing touch n go, slip to a landing.

    I would not be allowed to repeat any failed maneuvers. He is legally required to inform me immediately if I failed a task and I would have the option to continue to the rest of the flight. We would then have to repeat any failed tasks within 60 days.

    Pre-flight safety briefing from the Examiner. Positive exchange of flight controls. I would be the PIC, so in a real emergency I would be responsible for flying the plane and he would read the checklists and make the radio calls. For the simulated engine failure, we would simulate a solo event (I would handle flying, radios, checklists, etc.).

    I asked the following questions:

    1) VFR flight following required? My call, but strongly encouraged.

    2) What altitude will we climb to initially? About 3000 feet.

    3) Will we simulate full braking or actually full brake on a short field landing? Simulated is sufficient.

    4) Full stalls or simply approach to stalls? ACS requires full stall.

    5) Are you willing to hold anything for me during the exam (like section or checklists when I am not using them)? He responded that he legally couldn’t hold anything (I’ve heard other Examiners will help in this area).

    6) What speed would we conduct slow flight? He would pick a speed higher than the stall horn, probably around 60 knots. If the stall horn went off at the speed he chose, I would not fail (interesting topic under ACS).

    The DPE watched my pre-flight with partial interest and did a bit of his own pre-flight checks. Basically told me to do what I always do. I stuck very strictly to the pre-flight inspection checklist. No real questions about the pre-flight. The DPE informed me that I could do the checklist out loud or silently, at my option – he clearly did not have a preference.

    As we were getting into the plane, the DPE asked me what topics are required in my briefing to passengers? I typed up my own safety briefing checklist (which I plan to use on future flights with passengers) covering seatbelts and shoulder harnesses, opening/closing the door, sterile cockpit, looking out for traffic when we taxi and in the air (very important topic for this DPE), use of the fire extinguisher, positive exchange of flight controls, and no smoking cockpit.

    Normal start up procedure. ATIS informed us of perfect weather (4 knot winds pretty down the runway, 10 miles visibility, clear sky). Interestingly the METARS from 30 minutes prior stated 4 miles visibility, just below my current personal minimums; fortunately, the haze cleared out by the time we got the plane started.

    The Examiner had already informed me which VOR we would use, so I plugged that shortly after start up while getting the avionics set up and made sure I switched over from GPS to VOR right away. Note: I did not end up using GPS at all during the checkride.

    The DPE made sure I had my airport diagram on hand and wanted to see me use it for taxiing. I’ve heard others have failed for not using their airport diagram. There was an airshow that day, so the diagram was actually useful for deciphering the unusual taxi instructions. He asked what HS stands for on the airport diagram (hot spots).

    Taxied as a slow as a snail. I was careful to stay aligned with the taxiway centerline (good habit, checkride or not). Stayed aware of winds at all times and kept proper wind corrections throughout. Kept my head on a swivel during taxi, clearing every taxiway that we crossed. He made a little bit of small talk during taxi and I pretty much just ignored him, keeping a sterile cockpit. Moved the airplane into the wind when we got to the runup area. Normal runup. Before taxiing again towards the runway, I informed the DPE of emergency takeoff scenarios – how we were going to handle initial engine roughness or odd gauge readings on the runway prior to takeoff, and how we would handle engine failure right after takeoff.

    In line with my cross country route planning, I called the tower and received clearance for a midfield downwind departure from the pattern. Initial takeoff was a short field takeoff. Read the short field takeoff checklist prior to calling the tower. 10 degrees flaps. Use every bit of the runway. Hold brakes and full throttle. Release brakes. Stay on centerline. Climb at Vx. Remove flaps after obstacles (50 feet) and climb in Vy. Called out the time off (I often forget this one!).

    My initial checkpoint (after the midfield downwind departure point) was 6 miles east of the airfield. As soon as I called out the initial checkpoint and noted my times on the navlog, the DPE took control of the plane and we set up for instrument work. Quickly did unusual attitudes – one high speed and one low speed – both times he put in a bunch of trim for me to overcome (was not expecting that little trick). Scenario given: you have just run into bad weather en route and need to get out of the clouds, execute a 180 turn. Executed the 180 turn at standard rate, scanning the gauges carefully. 180 turn complete and weather is still bad, divert to XYZ VOR. Fortunately I had the VOR already plugged in, a cheat sheet with local frequencies to confirm, and also took a quick look at the sectional to triple check the frequency. Confirmed the VOR morse code identification while dialing in the TO flag on the VOR. Immediately turned to correct radia. After straightening out on the VOR TO heading, we did a climb to 3000 feet. Hood work complete.

    Next were steep turns, which I had practiced a ton in the weeks leading up to the exam. Clearing turns first, carefully scanning for traffic (and clearing my head for the maneuver). During the clearing turn, he asked what speed I was going to perform the steep turns (Va was 100 KIAS, so I said just below 100 KIAS). Turn to the left was OK. Turn to the right was ugly and just barely within standards. I was on the verge of beating myself up over the right turn but quickly got over that when the DPE asked me to prepare for the next maneuver – slow flight.

    Slow flight was interesting. The DPE called out 60 knots with no flaps. As I am slowing the plane down while maintaining level altitude, the DPE is playing around with flaps (moving from full flaps to no flaps and back again). That was a first for me and made the maneuver a bit challenging, but not impossible. He then had me do turns to the left and right while he continued to mess with the flaps.

    After slow flight, we recovered to normal cruise speed and he asked me to set up for power off stalls. Slowed the plane to a 65 KIAS decent and performed a power off stall. Focused on staying coordinated with a ton of right rudder and not losing altitude on the recovery.

    Moved on to a turning power on stall, not to exceed 20 degree bank. He gave me the option for a left turning or right turning power on stall. I chose right. Again, executed the stall focusing on staying coordinated (tons of right rudder) and not losing altitude on the recovery. After recovering, the DPE asked what would cause the plane to spin during a power on stall (being uncoordinated).

    At that point the DPE pulled the throttle back and kept his hand on the throttle. “Your engine just failed.” A (airspeed), B (best place to land), C (checklist/communicate). Immediately trimmed for best airspeed of 68 KIAS. Quickly chose a place to land – nice long levee right below us (could land a 747 on that thing!) and pointed to my desired landing point, noting that we would land into the wind. From memory – fuel selector valve BOTH, fuel shutoff valve OFF, mixture rich, throttle check, fuel pump, mag check. Simulate call on 121.5 and squawk 7700. He suggested that I call the local tower instead of 121.5 in a real emergency, given our proximity to the airport. We were over 2000 feet from my desired landing spot just below, so had time to circle around and get set up like I was descending into the pattern at an actual landing strip. Also had plenty of time to pull out the actual emergency checklists and read them off, including the forced landing checklist. Ok, I am coming in a little high, so did a forward slip and extend my flaps 30. At 500 feet, we perform a go around. Checked off engine failure, forward slip to landing, and go around in less than 5 minutes.

    The DPE then asked me to climb to 1000 feet and get set up for turns around a point. He asked me to choose a point and we did 2 laps around the point. I had heard that this examiner is a stickler on turns around a point, so I had practiced these a bunch the last couple weeks. I was careful to avoid getting closer to the point and maintained my altitude plus or minus 20 feet. He asked me “what is the purpose of turns around a point” and I responded that “it tests our ability to correct for the wind and divide attention inside and outside of cockpit.” After a 2 laps around the point, he asked me to return to the airport for landings.
     
  3. ClassAlpha

    ClassAlpha Filing Flight Plan

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    En route back to the airport, I asked the tower for stop n go clearance. The examiner informed me we would not need to come to a full stop on the short field landing, but would quickly transition from short field landing to soft field takeoff. However, not only did I get a stop n go clearance, the tower asked that I do STOP on the runways so that he could clear traffic across the runway. Coming in to the pattern, the DPE asked that I put the plane on the numbers. I had heard this examiner has failed people for landing short of the selected landing point, so I made damn sure to land on the numbers and not an inch before. Although I landed on the numbers, it was a pretty rough and flat landing. Immediately stopped as requested by the tower. Nervously sat on the runway while the tower cleared another plane to land on my runway! Fortunately, the tower quickly gave me clearance to takeoff and I transitioned to a soft field taekoff, keeping the nose wheel off the ground with 10 degrees of flaps, transitioning to ground effect picking up speed to Vx, lowered the flaps after 50 feet and transitioned to Vy. Then came around for a soft field landing touch n go, which I greased right down the centerline.

    The examiner then informed me that we would do a no flap landing to a full stop. Wow, this was the initial moment I realized that I was minutes away from passing the checkride. After being cleared for a full stop landing the examiner pulled the throttle back. “Your engine has just failed in the pattern.” I had recently received good instruction on engine failure landings in the pattern, so turned out to be a pretty good landing. My excitement level was very high as we started taxiing off the runway.

    After clearing the runway, I completed the after landing checklist and ground gave me taxi directions back to the hanger. After completing the engine shutdown checklist, the examiner said “I did a good job.” I correctly assumed that I had passed, but the examiner never said those two words “you passed” and I didn’t want to ask, so there was just a tiny bit of uncertainty heading back inside to finalize the paperwork. Everyone inside the school looked at us anxiously as we headed to the computer. Maybe it was just me, but there was some tension in the air as we all anxiously waited for affirmation. The affirmation came as he asked my instructor to pick up the Temporary Airman Certificate off the printer. I am officially a pilot!
     
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  4. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nice writeup.

    I'm not sure I would tolerate a DPE playing with controls while I had the plane. Positive change of controls and all that.
     
  5. HouTxPilot82

    HouTxPilot82 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Nice writeup - thanks for sharing. Enjoy your flights to come with passengers!
     
  6. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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  7. mulligan

    mulligan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Congratulations Pilot.
     
  8. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    Congratulations!

    Thank you for the great write up.
     
  9. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Congrats
     
  10. iflyvfr

    iflyvfr Pattern Altitude

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    Congrats again. My examiner pretty much did the same thing after the flying portion. I didn't know whether I'd passed or failed for sure until he handed me the temp certificate. Yes the absence of a 'fail' equals a pass, but please DPEs, say those 2 words to the poor student: "You passed!"
     
  11. jordane93

    jordane93 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Congrats!
     
  12. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Nice job. Mine said something along the lines of, "As long as you don't hit anything on the way back, you're a private pilot."