Apr 28 2009

Final Checkride Prep

Published by admin under Flight Lessons,Solo Flight

Aircraft: C172 N52654

Flight Time: 1.9 hours

Total Hours: 41.1

I have now passed my required 40 hours and as I look forward to my checkride, I can’t help but look back at the experiences that have brought me to this point. I began this journey six months ago, eager and excited, and curious about what I would learn during my months of training. It has certainly been challenging at times, and even a little frustrating during those times when I struggled, but I always kept calm and never lost my enthusiasm or my appetite for more. Jumping into the world of aviation has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and the fact that I am now so close to earning my license fills me with nearly uncontrollable excitement.

With my dual lessons officially wrapped up, I took the plane up yesterday for a couple of hours of solo time in order to get myself ready for my checkride, which I have scheduled for tomorrow. I spent about 45 minutes going through all of my maneuvers, and the rest of the time I worked on my landings.

I felt comfortable doing slow flight and stalls, although I’m so light, that sometimes it’s hard to get the plane to lose its lift. I find that I have to fly VERY slow and climb quite steeply in order to get it to drop during my power on stalls.

Next I ran through my ground reference maneuvers. It had been awhile since I had done these, and they went well, although I had a little trouble holding my altitude during the S-Turns. Hopefully with vigilant control and observation, I can keep them within tolerance. I also had a bit of trouble with this during my steep turns, but found that simply looking out the window instead of at the instruments. made all the difference, which is what you’re supposed to do as a VFR pilot anyway.

After going through the procedure for making an emergency landing without power, I headed back to Merrill for a long session of touch and go’s. I’ve had a tendency to land flat sometimes and really wanted to iron this problem out before my checkride. I dropped into the pattern and cruised through 13 takeoffs and landings- some short field, some soft field, and one with no flaps and a forward slip.

They weren’t all perfect, but the practice did me good, because it seems like things are coming together here. I still occasionally float- again, probably because with just me in the plane it’s so light, but there were no hard landings or bounces and I kept it straight on the centerline every time. I worked hard on flying smooth, tight patterns and using the power and trim to keep my descent rates consistent. I imagine that I’ll be improving my landings for the rest of my flying career, but for now, I feel that they’re definitely with the private pilot tolerances.

When I was finished, Mark and I made sure that I had all my required logbook endorsements filled in, then we printed out my FAA application and went over what I’d need for the checkride. It was a strange feeling sitting there realizing that my lessons are now coming to an end, at least until I go for my next rating anyway. That was when I started thinking back to the time when I sat in his office for the first time during my very first lesson all those months ago.

I know that I’m ready and I’m not nervous at all. I think that part of that is that I’ve already met Dick Ardiaz, who will be my FAA examiner. Dick is an aviation legend around here, having moved up in 1952 with his wife and starting Aero Tech flight school shortly thereafter. They even have a road over by the tower named after him. He seems like a super cool guy and from everything I’ve heard, he just wants to make sure that you’re going to be a safe pilot. I’m not worried.

So, all that’s left for me to do is to run through some of the material a bit more, get a good night’s sleep tonight and then show up at Aero Tech tomorrow at 9:30AM for the 2-3 hour oral exam. After that, we’ll go up in the plane and do that actual checkride. After that…

…I can only imagine.

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