checkride passed

I passed the flight portion of my checkride this morning. It was a beautiful morning for flying, there’s high pressure in the area so practically no wind, only high cirrus clouds, and the obligitory haze.

Norm, the DPE, had me plan a flight from Addison (KADS) to Guthrie, OK (KGOK). We left Addison and flew over the first two checkpoints making my planned time within half a minute. Along the way we determined that the GPS was broken and so we turned it off. After the second checkpoint Norm had me tune in a VOR and identify our location, then we started following a radial while he asked me questions about VORs. At that point Norm asked me if he could look at my chart. I handed it over and he folded it up and stuck it up between the glareshield and the window. “Oh I’m a bad passenger, I opened the window and your only chart just flew out. Good thing we tuned in the Bonham VOR.”


Once we got to the VOR and the flag flipped over Norm asked me if I’ve ever been to the Bonham Municipal Airport (F00). I hadn’t so he suggested we go there and do a short field landing over a 50′ “tree”. He asked me a couple of times whether I thought the traffic pattern was right or left. I finally got the hint and dug out my AFD and confirmed that it was a left pattern. We then entered the pattern and I performed a short field landing. We got down and stopped within 1000′ which made Norm very happy (he said so). =;-)

We taxied back and then he had me do a short field takeoff. Next stop was Sherman Municipal (SWI) where I did a soft field landing and takeoff. Next Norm had me put on the hood and he led me on a tour of North Texas with me flying on instruments alone. We did quite a few heading changes and climbs and descents (with and without turns) until he tuned in another VOR and asked me to identify our position relative to it and then fly along a radial toward the VOR.

Once he was satisfied with my performance it was time for unusual attitudes. The first one was a real stomach churner and we ended up in a climbing turn. I leveled the wings, added some power and got us straight and level. The next one was much more subtle. I could hardly tell what Norm was doing but when he turned over the controls were were in a diving turn. So this time I leveled the wings and pulled the power until we were flying straight and level again.

Norm asked me to descend to 2500′ and pointed in a direction just off our nose … “we’re over Celina and that was is Prosper. Take us that way and we’ll go back to Addison.” So I did. I called up the Addison ATIS and got the info, then contacted regional approach (who was really busy today) to get cleared back to Addison. We were passed off to Addison Tower pretty quickly and then we hit a glitch. I had the tower and ground frequencies tuned into radio one and though the display showed I was transmitting I never heard a response. We both fiddled with the radio a bit before tuning in the tower on radio two. Now they are coming in loud and clear. There wasn’t too much traffic so hopefully we didn’t step on anyone’s toes. We were cleared for a straight in approach to runway 15.

This time Norm wanted a normal crosswind landing, and we actually did have a slight crosswind to deal. I managed to get on the glide path correctly this time (I’m usually too high on straight in approaches) though on short final I was too low and had aggressively add some power to get back on the path. Then I managed to do a half-decent crosswind landing with only a little bit of bounce. While turning off the runway and onto taxiway foxtrot Norm sticks out his hand and says “congratulations pilot”. I wish you could have seen the grin on my face!

I knew the hard part was over when I finished the oral exam but this flight really was not that hard at all. Not to say that Norm let me off easy, it’s more that I have the confidence to fly the way I’ve been taught and I know that I should pass because I’ve been taught well. This flight was a test, and I was nervous, but Norm completely put me at ease and let me perform at my own pace. In the end this checkride was just a darn pleasurable flight.

A couple of things Norm said really pleased me. First was that he doesn’t always get to take examinees into Bonham and Sherman airports because they have narrow 4000′ runways. Plus, Sherman’s runway is on a slope … and from our perspective today went downhill. Most of the examinees need more runway than that. He mentioned that at Bonham it might as well have been a 2000′ runway because that’s all I would have needed.

Then he also complimented me on my rudder skills. I’ve always thought I had a bit of a clubfoot when it came to the rudder pedals so I was surprised by this. But Norm said I made excellent use of the pedals and that sometimes he couldn’t even feel me giving the plane more rudder during turns and takeoffs. That really made me feel good!

So now what? I’ve got a Skyhawk at Monarch reserved for most of next Sunday. The wife and I are going to Llano, TX, I think, to get some of that excellent Cooper’s BBQ. But today I’m also contacting the North Texas Flying Club (based at KTKI) to sign up. So hopefully next Saturday I’ll be doing a checkout with them.

This flight: 1.7 hours (simulated instruments @ 0.4 hours)
Landings: 3
Total : 65.7 hours (started training in December 2004)