This day was about completing the flying I needed to do before the check ride so I’m actually eligible for a private pilots licence. It was also about tying up loose ends and making sure I’m confident with every manoeuvre and procedure.
I had ground school at 10am for a few hours reviewing all the material that could possibly be asked in the oral exam.
Brandon and I flew to OJC and stopped off at the flying school there (Air Associates). I had to buy a current FAR (Regulations books) and an AFD (Aircraft Facility Directory) because it’s a requirement to have them on person for the check ride.
We also chose OJC because I needed to do three solo towered landings, so Brandon stayed back and I went out alone to do two landings since I had already done one at Columbia when on my solo cross country. My headset was playing up just as I was about to set off which really put me off but I got it sorted and I got out there. It was REALLY bumpy in the whole pattern, probably because of the location of the airport, also with the fact that it was quite windy and maybe because there was a helicopter in the area which was probably disrupting the air too.
Nevertheless, I did the two landings, picked Brandon up and we headed back towards Midwest. On the way back, we practise unusual attitudes, where the student pilot shuts their eyes, the instructor puts the airplane in any kind of crazy flight path/speed. ie. a 60 degree rolling bank, speeding towards the ground, and on the instructor’s command, you have to recover quickly and safely.
After that, in the practise area, I carried out all the manoeuvres and emergencies then headed back to Midwest to do a few landings and practise a go around. A ‘go around’ is where you set up for a landing and just before landing, you apply fully power, release flaps and turn the carb off and abort the landing. This to practise so that you quickly know how to abort a landing, say if there was something on the runway, or if the approach to the runway didn’t feel right. We practised this because it will be examined in the check ride so Brandon just wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing.
Returning to the school, all my logbook hours were added up and checked. The appropriate paperwork was filled out and my next task was to relax and get a good night’s rest.
It was going to a bit a hit or a miss with the check ride. I had an examiner which Career Pilot School hadn’t ever used because the one we have for our school was away. This meant that we didn’t know what to expect and how his test will be. I was feeling confident for the check ride but it’s been a very short amount of time that I’ve done my training in and it would be very easy for me to make a small mistake in the exam. The check ride is the day before I leave back for Scotland, so if the weather plays up, I may be going home without a pilot’s licence. Having said that, I was looking forward to the challenge of a new examiner, possibly being more stringent and not knowing me or the school, I knew he wouldn’t be forgiving. I wanted to prove to myself that I had earn the pilot’s licence and hadn’t just sailed through because my Dad owned the school or because I had any extra help, and having an examiner we don’t personally know was something which I was quite excited for that if I was to pass, then I would be satisfied that I had earned my wings fair and square.
I’ve done all I can, working my hardest, flying all the hours needed, passing my written exam and Brandon has signed me off for my check ride and is confident for me. Unlike driving tests and other common exams, perhaps the ones at university or high school, the decision of whether a student pilot passes their check ride is at the examiners discretion. No 50 hour pilot could ever be perfect and it’s simply because pilot’s are defined by the amount of hours they have and a 50 hour pilot is to simply put it, a child, when it comes to flying. The task is to demonstrate that I am safe in the air, I know my procedures and if there is an emergency, I know what to do. The examiner is looking for a proficiency that the student pilot is in fact in command and could command this machine on their own and deserves to. So, in a sense, with the confidence I have and no one can fake that, whether or not I make a mistake or two, I knew I was in good shape for the check ride, because I knew I was in command and know how to fly, for a 50 hour pilot anyway.
Nevertheless, it’s up to tomorrow and whatever happens in the moment!
Wish me the best of luck!