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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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!

Checkride Update 1 October 2007: T-Minus 10 Days to Checkride

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Off to a slow start. Spent most of the weekend and all day today at work. Went to Kirby’s Koney for dinner and edited a bit more of the book.

Going to go fly some sim in the morning. Probably partial-panel approaches to some relevant airports. Trying to get work out of the way so I can spend a few evenings studying my hiney off.

Final Part 141 Stage Check Complete! On to the Checkride!

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Completed the stage check this afternoon for the Part 141 instrument rating program at Tradewinds. Yeah, baby! 2.4 hours Hobbs, two takeoffs, two landings, ILS 27 KFNT with circle to land 18, RNAV 18 KFNT with published miss and hold, VOR 18 full procedure KFNT, and VOR 27L KPTK partial panel. Less of a workout than last week, if only in that I’ve done a lot more approach work of late and and am more comfortable with the approach environment than I am handling rapid deviations from flight plans, holding at odd places, and doing DME arcs.

So now it’s on the the checkride with Mary Carpenter, the designated examiner who did my private checkride more than three years ago. She was great on the private ride and I expect a fair and objective ride with her this time, too.

I’m walking into the checkride with an 88 on the FAA Knowledge Test (wanted 90%+, but I’ll take the 88), which should put me on good footing, both because I know about 88% of the stuff and because Mary will have reason to think that I’ve studied prior to the ride.

Here’s N916TA, the trusty steed that I flew for the stage check and one of two aircraft that are candidates for the checkride. Either should be fine. I’ll probably try for 16 because I’ve flown her more recently, but I’d have no problem going with N920TA, which is essentially the same airplane, only newer. I probably have 15+ hours in each, so no problem.

Stay tuned for more on the checkride! Planning for the second week of October.

Stage Check Almost Complete

I’d consider throwing all of my approach plates in the lake at this point, but I fear that, even with dual VORs, IFR-certified GPS, and vectors, I’d have trouble finding the lake.

I had my final stage check this afternoon – well, most of it. 2.1 under the hood with rapid-fire changes of clearance, two holds (one VOR and one at an airway waypoint), a DME arc, unusual attitude recoveries (both full and partial panel), compass turns, approach and departure stalls under the hood, and a takeoff under the hood. That’s f%&$ing work! I was a noodle by the end.

My check pilot (the senior training pilot at Tradewinds) had a headset malfunction when the portion near the plug separated and made it tough for him to hear. So we shouted at each other for most of the maneuvers (par for the course on some of my flights, even when the instructor’s headset is fully funcitonal) and packed it in at the end.

We’ll do the approaches and clean up the other stuff soon. Gotta go fly some sim between now and then, especially partial-panel approaches.

Here’s N916TA, a Cessna 172R in which I’ve probably logged 20-30 hours. It and its sister aircraft, N920TA, have two-axis autopilots and an audio Aux input (great for iPod addition to your avionics). 16 and 20 are contemporaries of N918TA, the subject of the So Long, One-Eight! episode. Nice aircraft and none older than 2002. N915TA is a glass-panel (Garmin G-1000) is also on the line, but I’m going to finish up the rating with the steam gages and then maybe transition.

Wonder why I like Tradewinds? Here’s my walk from the lobby to the Pilot Center flight line. Right past the King Airs and the Hawkers. Got to like that. And look at the floor! Could you eat off of that or what?

Last thing: I’m the guest on Episode 3 of The Pilot’s Flight PodLog, which you’ll recall is Will Hawkins’ new podcast. Check it out and subscribe to Will’s new podcast at iTunes or your favorite other podcatcher or listen online at