Checkride Update for 25 October – IFR Checkride Complete!

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I passed the checkride this morning! Thanks for the cards and letters. They meant (and continue to mean) a lot.I received approval from the examiner to include audio from the checkride in a future episode, so you can expect to hear the highlights sometime soon.

In the meantime, it’s back to Airspeed as usual. Upcoming episodes include an interview with Castrol aerobatic and racing pilot Mike Goulian, flying skydivers in the Super Otter with Dave Schwartz of Skydive Radio, and lots more.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. If you were beginning to be annoyed at the constant Checkride Updates, all I can say is “You and me both!” I never thought it would take four tries to get flyable weather, but that’s my beloved State of Michigan in October for you.
It has its upsides. I arrived at the checkride with more than 15 hours of actual, which is off-scale high for an instrument candidate, and I have the local weather and some excellent flight instructors to thank for that. And I think that it made me a better IFR pilot. But it gets a little tedious doing the flight planning each time and having to keep the knowledge for the oral current and ready for recall.
Back to our regularly-scheduled podcast. And some great adventures ahead!

Checkride Update for 23 October – My Letter of Discontinuance

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Got 1.9 this morning, including 0.8 actual, and shot the VOR full procedure 18 at KFNT, the ILS 27 at KFNT, and the RNAV 18 at KFNT before heading back and shooting the ILR 9R at KPTK. This was a warm-up flight to prepare for the checkride this afternoon. I flew well other than getting a little far off to the right on the RNAV 18 and having the GPS conk out just short of HEBUB (thereby depriving me of the ability to descend below 1,560 or so).

Here’s a pretty indicative picture of circumstances. Nice generally, but scattered between 800 and 2,500 with broken or overcast layers between 1,800 and 6,500. Not enough to go and do the flight portion of the checkride.

The radio stack showing the first leg of the RNAV 18 heading for JUBER.

Anyway, I got through the oral in fine form. The studying paid off and I either answered decisively or could just look the examiner in the eye and tell her that I didn’t know the answer. Only missed two questions and I’ll have that information together when I return on Thurssday.

The ceilings and scattered layer made the flight portion impracticable, so I’ve rescheduled for Thursday. I therefore have a nice new Letter of Discontinuance from the examiner. The letter basically declares what I’ve completed and says that I can pick up where I left off between now and December 22.

Ready to go for Thursday, but I stopped at DCT Aviation and got my card loaded up with another two hours. The plan is to show up on Thursday morning around 7:00 at Tradewinds and preflight the aircraft. Then I head for DCT around the corner when Pontiac Air Center opens at 8:00 and fly sim for an hour before coming back to Tradewinds to meet the examiner at 9:30.

Then it’s time to fly the ride. Light touch on the yoke and trim, trim, trim! Needle in the donut, baby!

Checkride Update 22 October

Nothing wrong with a little IFR practice out on the course. We did the annual WallyFest this weekend up near Traverse City , including a round Sunday at Pinecroft. My safety pilot here is fabled chef and best friend Jim Kreucher.

He’s not worried about my flying (although there are precious few instruments on a golf cart). He wanted the David Clark headset. But he understands that my hood is attached to my headset and allowed as how simply driving with my eyes closed would be disadvantageous.

A shot from the fairway at Pinecroft. Beautiful view of the water. Skies pretty clean and winds that must have been gusting to 30 knots or so at times. Actually had to take the wind into account when putting. Saw only one GA aircraft the whole day.

Another shot of Kreuch on the fairway. I think that the colors were just a little past peak, but there were some gorgeous scenes when the sun hit some of the oranges and yellows.

The namesake of WallyFest, Wally Tupper – My dad. 70-plus and still a danger on the course. I’m happy to say that I took home (or rather kept possession of) Der Tupper Hackenfest traveling trophy (even though I’ve been a pig for the last year and have failed to turn it over to the winner because I’ve forgotten to bring it along). We usually play on Jekyll Island, Georgia as close to the Ides of March as possible and then up north around Traverse City, Michigan around September 15, although we’ve pushed it into October this year and last and lucked out with the weather. The fall iteration is WallyFest proper and the spring is whatever we happen to call it at the time.

Checkride prep? Studying the cards and flying a little sim and that’s it. It has been about a month since I’ve flown an actual aircraft and I’m a little bothered by that. A fair amount of sim, but I really need to get into the aircraft before the checkride. I’m scheduled to take up N20TA with Steve Roemer from 10:00 to 12:00 tomorrow and the checkride is scheduled for 1:30.

Temperature/dewpoint is supposed to be 10/7 and the sky is supposed to be partly cloudy, but that gives us 4,000 feet until freezing and we should be able to go up IFR if needed. The afternoon is supposed to dry up (14/3) and it’s looking pretty decent for the ride. Winds WNW to W at 10-14, which should be good.

Van Halen tonight at the Palace, which bodes ill for rest, but I’m getting home just as quickly as I can after the show and will probably sleep at least until 8:00, which ought to give me a good seven hours. No real way to avoid the show and I don’t really want to miss it. Going with a good friend from my prior banking days and taking along the co-leader of the firm’s IT practice. Should be a good time as long as I can avoid the snarl of traffic getting out of the Palace.

Checkride Update 14 October 2007 – Checkride Rescheduled – T-Minus Five Days to Checkride

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Checkride rescheduled for Friday, October 19. Ceilings were too low (TAF at Flint called for 2,200 AGL, which might have been enough, but why try to run scud with the FAA in the right seat? Actually, I would have gladly done the ride in IMC except for the unusual attitudes, etc., but one could forgive the examiner for wanting solid VFR.

So I left on Friday for my cousin’s wedding in Rhode Island and recorded the update while walking around Newport.

Note the sign above. Never met the guy, so there might be something to it when people say, as they often do, that I don’t know Jagschitz.

My brother, Dave, at the marina. He’s a sailing nut whose primary toy in retirement will be a sailboat of some kind. There way plenty to drool over at the marina.

The crew of teh CRJ that I took from Providence to Reagan National. I love CRJs. Solid feel, maneuverable, and efficient.

A shot from the layover at Reagan National. A group of US Airways employees seeing off a jet that presumably carried US military personnel. I got a glimpse of the banner as the bus drove by from the aircraft to the terminal, but didn’t catch whether the personnel were on their ways home or on their ways out. Either way, I thought it was a class act on the part of US Airways. Way to go, guys!

Checkride Update 6 October – T-minus 5 Days until Checkride

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Also listen to 3 October’s Checkride Update at

Flew more than two hours of sim today. Lots of approaches. Some partial panel. Here’s a shot just after breaking out when shooting the ILS 27 at KFNT. Even went on to fly the miss to PETLI even though N920TA, the aircraft I’m going to fly for the checkride, doesn’t have an ADF in it. I might have to fly the miss for this approach using the GPS to itendify the holding fix. Crap! The more I prep, the more I realize how much I don’t know and how much the checkride is going to depend on the examiner having the same idiosynchasies and predilections as my flight instructor have had over the years.

Here’s the whole unit. There’s a curtain that comes out to sequester the student and hide the instructor’s workstation. I usually just keep the instructor station there and don’t look at it unless I’ve exhausted all of my options there at the console (which usually means that I placed myself too close to the approach course and have long since flown through it).

There are four or more of these at DCT Aviation in the back of the Pontiac Air Center on Airport Road southeast of the approach end of 27L.

Like all other simulators I’ve flown, these suck in pitch. But they suck less than the Frasca 142 at Tradewinds. Plus, this pretty well simulates the C-172R where the Frasca has an HSI and an unfamiliar communications stack.

The airplane is so much easier to fly! Trim actually works in the aircraft. It’s really tough to trim the sim.

As much as I bitch, though, I’ve really improved in the cockpit after starting to fly sim reasonably regularly. A lot of instrument flight is establishing and maintaining routines and you can’t effectively establish routines unless you walk through them regularly. The sim lets me fly six to eight approaches per hour and lets me build the routine. That packs the routine into my available bandwidth and lets me stay a little but ahead (or less far behind) the airplane.

Here’s the ground track for the hold at KATTY, which is about 10 miles east of KFNT. As you can see on the right hand side of the screen, I set up a pretty fierce crosswind from the north (which is pretty common in my experience) and then proceeded to fly mutant-kidney-bean-shaped patterns as the wind ate my lunch. I nailed the last time around by flying a 60-degree offset heading on the outbound leg and then hit the intersection at just about exactly a minute inbound. Query where that minute starts because the outbound leg and the turn inbound were pretty nonstandard, but I’ll take it.

At least I didn’t have to fly this. This old unit has been sitting in the sim room for as long as I’ve been flying the sims there. Really mechanical. I wonder how effective it is/was.

Cole joined me at the FBO. We went directly from a soccer game. I set him up with his DVD player and a Speed Racer DVD and some food. He sat still for two hours plus and even asked a few questions about the sim.

On to more study! Five days to go!