Well, here we go again. It's June 6th, 1996, and I have just passed the checkride for my Private Pilot Certificate (Single Engine, Land). And I figured I would jot some thoughts down. Again, these are more for me, to sort out things, but feel free to share the experience.
The following is an outline of the flight exam. So you know what you're getting into first. The text follows immediately after.
I determined the course on my chart. It involved only one side of a single chart (the examiner later commented how he must've been soft with respect to that, though the course passes through and near enough airspaces and things to allow a lot of testing in the oral part). I followed the radio navigation beacons (VOR airways or 'victor airways') and marked off check points. Measured off the distances and filled in some of the information on my navigation log. However, actual course headings could not be computed until the "winds aloft" information for the day of the flight became available, which would be the night before at the earliest.
Then I did the appropriate calculations to determine the course, wind correction angle, magnetic compass deviation in the plane I would be flying and things like that.
Tried to review a few more regulations. And went to bed. (Fortunately I'm not the sort that loses sleep worrying about things.)
I do some initial pre-preflight checks on the plane (30Q), add a quart of oil and (with help) drain a couple of gallons of fuel out of the tanks so it will be within the weight limits.
I could say "to make a long story short..." but why bother when I can make it even longer ? Hell, I had to endure worse than just reading this.
The East Hill Flying Club is a 141 school, and as such has a bag of goodies that new students get that contains all the things they need (e.g., ground school book, FARs, syllabus, Cessna 152 manual, logbook, course plotter, etc.), however as I had already had my ground instruction and passed the written test before coming to Ithaca, it would be a waste of my time and money to go through the entire Part 141 program.
So I was a Part 61 student, even though I followed the 141 syllabus for everything but the ground instruction (since I had completed that). I didn't get the bag of goodies, since I had most of it. I ordered a syllabus, 152 manual, and was provided with an old, (yea, ancient) logbook that they had. The format/layout of the logbook was different from all of the students in the club. As such, the instructors weren't as diligent in checking that everything had been logged perfectly properly (all hours had been logged, but not completely properly, like "solo cross- country" time had not been also logged in the "solo" column.
In addition, I had filled out the form at the beginning of the week, and since then I had flown a few more times (in preparation for the test).
The numbers didn't all add up. I had to fix it.
In all fairness, I am, perhaps, exaggerating somewhat, as Tom wasn't looking over my shoulder the ENTIRE time.
It took a good 1/2 hour to 45 minutes before I had found all the aberrations and corrected all the times in the logbook and on the form.
Most of the preflight planning went fairly smoothly. Only snag was that while I knew that true airspeed would be higher than indicated airspeed, I wasn't sure how to calculate it (in retrospect, it had been covered in the ground school at OSU, but I hadn't used it in over a year and had forgotten).
He asked me about power-on stalls. How steep I thought they were. I know they feel a lot steeper than they are, but I indicated with my hand what I thought the nose pitch attitude would be. He said that, in reality, it's actually lower and described the procedure for a multi- engine power-on stall, where after slowing the plane down, the power is brought back in and the nose is raised just 15 degrees before the plane stalls. I didn't realize that. There was, of course, a good reason behind the basis for my perception which was demonstrated and then explained later on (c.f. power-on stall).
When I was describing the climbing speed (either for the short-field take off or stall recovery), I said you use the speed "VX." He said, "Ah, you're an engineer" since I had pronounced it as "V-sub-X" instead of just "V-X." My past catches up with me...
He asked me how the flaps were operated. They are electrically powered and operated by a motor. He asked if I knew where the motor was. I said that I believe it was in the wing. He asked which wing. Recalling a system picture of the plane, I hazarded saying the right one. That was correct, though he showed me the part of the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) where it was specified (Section 7: Systems).
Tom then said, "OK, this is not part of the test. What is the single worst thing you can do if a passenger is feeling sick?" The answer is to bring out the barf-bag. Apparently, if someone sees it, that provides an unconscious cue implying that it's ok to hurl. And they will. Usually immediately. Hardly ever in the bag.
I did, and conditions were still favorable. However, the surface were reported as south east, though not strong, and the winds winds aloft (3000') were north westerly. An essential part of flying involves always knowing where the wind is, as you must compensate for it during flight, and during an emergency landing, you want to land into the wind, and that is a factor that affects which field you'd select for such a situation.
Additionally, under FAR 61.???, I would be flying this flight as "Pilot-In- Command." That means I have sole responsibility for the safety of the flight and that he is, for all intents and purposes, my first passenger. He can fly the plane while I am putting on the hood (for IR work) and will ensure there is no traffic in the area. However, if, due to safety, that he is forced to take control of the plane because I am unable to handle the situation, the checkride is over at that point. With the exception of something completely random and not my fault, like a plane (I believe the word used was "some asshole") not using its radio cutting in front of us on final approach and forces us to swerve to avoid hitting it; apparently something that HAS happened in the past.
He asks me to guess if I think it is required or not. I guess that it is not. It is. He then points to the Cessna 150 that was sitting next to our plane in the hanger and says, "However, for the 150, it is not required by the POH." He lets that sink in for a moment. The 150 and 152 are very similar planes, yet a piece of equipment is required in one and not required in another. He then adds, "But, there is an Airworthiness Directive [AD] that makes it required in the 150 and requires the pilot to check it prior to flying." [An AD is an FAA regulatory decree concerning the airworthiness of a particular type of plane; each directive usually requires a part that has been determined to be problematic to be replaced or inspected, or in this case, changes its status from "optional" to "required".] So while my answer above was correct, he had shown that it was not complete.
They say the test is a learning experience. There were many things I learned.
Tom asks me what I'm doing and the purpose of the above checks. Also asks what would be the significance of a rise in engine RPM after the initial drop when the carb heat is applied (implies the presence of carburetor ice, which would then be melting).
Ithaca Ground, Cessna 6230Q on West Ramp with information Sierra, ready to taxi for north east departure.
Cessna 30Q, Ithaca Ground. Taxi to Runway 14, winds 200 at 4, altimeter 3-0-1-9er.
Taxi to Runway 14, 30Q.
I check for traffic on the ramp and proceed towards runway 14. At the end of the runway, I switch to the tower frequency, quickly double check the takeoff checklist now in my lap, and call the tower.
Ithaca Tower, Cessna 6230Q, ready for takeoff at Runway 14.
Cessna 30Q, Left turn departure approved, Advise tower when 5 miles from field, cleared for takeoff.
Cleared for takeoff, 30Q.
I taxi onto runway 14, quickly (mentally) note the time, turn the transponder from "standby" to "alt", advance the throttle to full, do the final quick check (THOOT: Transponder, Heading (make sure heading indicator matches the runway heading, 140 in this case), Oil Temperature, Oil Pressure, Time Off) and begin the takeoff roll.
Cessna November 6230Quebec, report position.
30Q is now clear to the east.
Roger, 30Q, frequency change approved, have a good flight. (yeah, as if)
You must open your eyes, look at the instruments, determine what the plane is doing and correct it. The airspeed indicator tells you if you're going too fast (pull the throttle to idle) or too slow (apply full power), the attitude indicator shows the bank. You'll need to level the wings so you don't overload them, when correcting for the pitch attitude. We did a couple of those. The last time, he asked me to tell him exactly what he was doing currently. Generally, I try not to pay attention to any feelings I have under the hood, so I'm not used to trying to think about what's going on. I guessed, "a climbing left bank." He asked me to tell him when he stopped banking. At some point, I guessed. Then I had to recover the plane. I honestly have no idea how off my guess was. The moment I opened my eyes, I was thinking about how to fix the plane, not comparing it to what I thought it was doing (I really had no particular image in my mind). Perhaps I should have asked him later.
That was the end of the instrument reference maneuvers. He takes the plane as I take off the hood. I sort of hit him in the headset/head with the hood as I'm reaching over him to stow it in the back of the plane. "Now, hit your examiner," he says. "Oooops. Hope that didn't cost me."
I rolled into a turn to the left. It was very sloppy. Sometimes at 45 degrees (the proper bank angle) sometimes slipping to 30 degrees. I was also trying to maintain altitude, maintain coordinated use of the rudder and roll out on the proper heading. I've done it much better other times. He has me do a steep turn to the right. That one is better. Perhaps even satisfactory (I have my doubts about the one to the left).
Then I reduce the power to idle, while maintaining the same altitude, which bleeds off airspeed. Once it gets slow enough, I apply full power, bring the nose up, and wait for the stall to happen. I'm looking out at the nose, as that's what I have to watch. The stall must be a "full stall" as opposed to an "imminent stall," there must be an "uncontrolled response" from the plane. The nose drops, and I announce the stall ("There's the stall") and lower the nose to recover.
I think the recovery was ok. As I was bleeding off airspeed, I had to gradually keep pulling back on the yoke. As I reached for the throttle, I stopped applying backpressure on the yoke and the nose began to lower, which allows the airspeed to increase. So the nose pitch had to be higher in the power-on stall than it would have had I not allowed the airspeed to increase. He told me in the debriefing about this, and that he expected it, since earlier on, I had indicated a pretty high pitch angle required for power-on stalls.
Not something you want to fuck around with.
My airspeed control was poor. I should have maintained 60 kts, the best glide speed, but instead I let the speed increase. I was also high. The base leg was short (I didn't want to get too far away from the runway) and I'm high and fast.
We taxi off the runway and slowly taxi back to the end of the runway. He tells me of the things that I did right and wrong. I realize I'm a bit on edge from the whole thing. He says that I managed to "salvage" the landing and that any emergency situation that you can walk away from is ok. However I should not have lost track of the fact that it was an emergency. I should not have worried about the normal procedures during an emergency, and I shouldn't have bothered with the radio.
Taxiing back to the end of the runway, he tells me that it was ok and that, had I not done the go-around the first time, I would have surely missed it and would have failed the test. He later mentioned that I wasn't really using the power properly, adjusting it as needed. I'd tend to set it and keep it at that setting.
Ithaca Tower, Cessna 6230Q, 5 miles to the east with information Tango, inbound for the option.
Cessna 6230Q, enter right base for runway 14, report 2 miles from the field.
Right base for 14, will report 2 miles out, 30Q
Now, I semi-mindlessly repeated back everything they said without much thought. I may or may not have been thinking about what happens, when about 20 seconds later Tom asks, "Did you say right or left base?"
Now, runway 14 heads south-east. And we were east of the field (heading west). That means to turn from base to final, it would be a left turn, not a right turn. I recall saying the word "right." I say to Tom, "Um...you know, I think I said right, let me check with the tower."
Tower, 30Q is 3 miles to the east. Did you want a right or left base?
30Q, I'm sorry, I thought you had said you were 5 miles to the west. This will be a left-base. Clear to land.
Clear to land, 30Q
I was surprised. Usually the tower doesn't admit to errors on their part. Tom pointed to his notepad and indicated that I had indeed said we were to the east and they had assumed I was to the west. There's some vindication. I should have discovered the error sooner, but I had done the right thing by requesting a clarification from the tower. I don't think that it had been pre-planned...
As I pulled the mixture control to idle/cutoff, the engine speed drops, then coughs, the picks up, then drops, then studders, then shudders, the rattles, then revs up, then rattles, then shakes, then revs, and then finally stops. All the time, I am increasing the throttle so as to actually minimize this overdramatic death scene. "Ah," he said, "Now I remember this plane." He went inside and told me he would do the paperwork while I did any post-flight procedures and to join him when I was done.
When I asked overall, how I had done, he said that I wasn't "ace of the base" but that it wasn't that bad either. And when I told him I was pleased I had made my self-imposed deadline of learning to fly before I'm 30 by two days, he asked if I was going to get a personalized license plate that said "mid-life." Harumph!
Tom provided me with some advice about taking passengers (he "slipped" at first saying "vic-"), trying to provide a nice, smooth ride so as to make friends and not scare people away. Stalls, steep turns and things like that don't really bother me, however passengers not used to small planes would find such a thing disturbing.
I need to be checked out in other planes and for night flight. And work on my precision and fly some cross-countries to expand my horizons. Then there's instrument training.
Who knows what else...