My Private Pilot Check Ride : Sam Sears ssears219 (at)

I was 17 years old when I took my check ride. I had about 76 hours and was 10 months in. Probably could have gone sooner, but winter in Nebraska gives you a couple months of straight IMC. My training was out of Hanger One in Omaha, Nebraska. The airport is Millard KMLE.

The day started at 6:20 in the morning (Saturday) for me; getting up and going through some check lists on weather and items to bring. I had some breakfast, took a shower, and headed to Hanger One. I had began planning the cross country from KMLE to KVTN that week. My winds were from a forecast the night before since I didn't think I could get up early enough. I also got NOTAMS that night and, in the morning, went through a check list of all weather info. I got to Hanger One at 7:45 with a couple questions for my instructor about fuel consumption, but he was up flying. It worked out okay anyway since my understanding of over-estimating fuel was correct. The check ride began with writing down my v-speeds for my examiner while he made sure I was qualified. Then he gave me the engine log books and told me to show the airplane was airworthy. In the engine logs I showed him the 100hr and annual. In the airframe log i showed him the Transponder, ELT, 100hr, and Annual. Then I showed him the AD's. After that he explained we would now begin the test. He had a check list of material to cover and the first thing we did was looked at the XC sheet. He asked me about the Magnetic Heading, Magnetic Course(true course + or - variation), and talked about fuel and ground speed. Then we switched over to looking at NOTAMS. After all that we got out the sectional and he pointed to airports and gave me situations and whether or not we could fly there relating to weather and altitude. We also discussed MOAs, Prohibited Areas, Restricted Areas, and TFRs. Next we went over Aircraft Systems with questions about amper readings, oil pressure/oil temperature interpretations, and vacuum systems/gyros. Next was a question relating to supplemental oxygen and usage. Other questions had to do with things like inoperative equipment procedures and whether systems were out of limits. The rest of the oral is a bit fuzzy and hard to remember. Overall, it was more like a lesson than a test. He explained a lot more to me than I would have thought. We finish at about 9:40 so the whole oral took only about an hour and a half.

After the oral he said I did a good job so we went out and did a pre flight. We were in a Piper Cherokee 140, N15321, and it was in the hanger still at the time. I did my normal tasks without even saying what I was doing. Sometimes he would ask what I was doing or what something was. I even learned a few new things in the engine and holding up the aileron when checking under neath. After this he had a safety meeting to go to at 10:00 so I decided to sit in and observe. It was really just a presentation/discussion about safety issues. Since I could understand what they were talking about, being familiar with regs now, I found it interesting. However, Lee told me we could go fly at the first break and so we were in the plane by 10:45. I did everything normal, not needing to treat him like an unfamiliar passenger. He did ask me when we needed seat belts though. After start I pulled away and didn't really forget to check breaks, but I didn't do it right away so he said he needed to check the parking break (hinting me). Normal run-up and then normal smooth take off of 12. I departed the downwind to the west and then got my on course heading staying above the traffic coming in on final (which Lee actually was talking to for separation). TOC was noted at 4500 and then he gave me a situation where I could only turn to my southwest because of weather. I picked AHQ for my diversion and approximated my time and heading. Once on my heading Lee told me to put on my view limiting device and time 2 minutes of straight and level then turn 180 degrees simulating a cloud entree. After this he told me to put my head down and turn left. When i put myself into an unusual attitude I recovered by power back and back pressure since I was diving. Next, was clearing turns, slow flight, slow flight turns, power off stall, power on stall with 20 degrees of bank, and steep turns. All of these were good and within standards. Next was a simulated engine failure so I did airspeed, best field, and cockpit flow to restart engine. Once down close we went around. Finally we did a turn around a point and headed back to KMLE since the winds were better there than at KFET. Once at KMLE I did a normal landing, soft field take off, soft field landing, and a short field to clear 50ft with a short field landing to clear 50ft. The only bad one was the soft field landing which I came in hard cause of a gust of wind that blew me right and high. He said me technique was on so it was okay. Finally, I was done. The total flight being 1.3. He took the controls and taxied right in front of the office after telling me I passed. It was like the winner's circle. My dad was there and so was my instructor Tim. We got done at 12:30 ish.

To summarize the whole test, it wasn't how I expected it. It was more or less like a lesson with an instructor. He would ask me questions, but also explain things to me I hadn't learned yet. The difference from the check ride and a lesson, I guess, would be I know almost all the answers, where as in a lesson I usually didn't know the answer to my instructor's questions. I could tell my examiner, Lee, had an incredible amount of knowledge from all the experience he had. I also found that on a wrong answer you could make I seem like you knew the correct answer, but just said it wrong. I am not sure if he noticed, but I kind of did that when I gave him a stupid answer. The only weird thing was; I wasn't nervous at all the entire flight. I was 100% more nervous on my first lesson.