After working towards my private pilot certification for exactly one year to the day, I passed my FAA check ride yesterday! My day started at 6am, and had to be at my airport at 7am. I was prepared for a really long day. I got in and immediately filed for my flight to Easton, MD and received my weather briefing. Once I got off of the phone with Flight Services, I plugged in my weather and finished my flight planning. I was given a flight to plan in advance, with the understanding that we’d divert to another airport. I finished that and started my preflight on the airplane, and before I knew it, I was in the air. The examiner is based at Easton, MD, where I had to meet him. It was a quick 20-minute flight across the Chesapeake Bay. I landed and taxied to the terminal where I tied the plane down and went inside.
Easton was a nice little terminal with a little cafe called Sugar Buns. Once inside, I found my examiner fairly quickly. We changed greetings and off we were to his office. The first hour and a half we spent ensuring I met all of the requirements, with him scouring over all of my records. Before I knew it, the “test” began. The first ting he did was pulled out an aerial of Easton, and asked me all about traffic patterns and Land and Hold Short Operations (LAHSO). From there he pulled out runway markings and sign flash cards. We went over about 10 of those before moving on. I believe we dabbled in weight and balance, as well as aircraft performance from there. He just had me calculate takeoff weight, fuel burned enroute to our first destination, takeoff roll, landing distance, etc. I had much of that already prepared, so that went fairly smoothly.
By that time, it was lunch time and we were both hungry. He invited me to the cafe, where the questioning continued over lunch. There we focused on aeromedical factors, which was pretty much all scenario based, as well as issues revolving around the certification of airmen. He finished up asking me about all of the emergency procedures. I was told in advance to make sure I knew them all by heart, which I did commit to memory. We spent about an hour at lunch, before moving on.
We headed back to his office, which was a two minute walk. At that point, I pulled out my planning and sectional and we discussed the route. He focused on airspace issues, which again were all scenario based. He asked some VOR based questions as well. It was all very straight forward for me, as I really studied my rear end off. Before I knew it, he told me to go preflight the plane and that he’d meet me out there. At that point, I knew I’d passed the oral grilling, because if your don’t, you don’t get to fly. I headed out and started my preflight.
I finished the preflight, gave my first passenger briefing and awy we were. Started out with a soft field takeoff, followed by a soft field landing. Did a touch and go, then came back around for a short field landing. After that, we flew towards my first checkpoint using only pilotage. He added in a few additional checkpoints and wanted to see if a) I could get there and b) find the checkpoints, which I did. We did some instrument training (wih the foggles), which included starigt and level flight, descending turns, climbing turns, recovering, 180 degree turns, etc. No issues there either. That lasted about 15 minutes before we moved on to emergency procedures. He simulated an engine out, I set our best glide, did a couple of descending circles around the grass strip (we were at about 4500′), set up for landing then went around. From there, we flew back to Easton, and I was able to make any sort of landing I chose (I chose a normal landing) and taxied back to the terminal. As soon as we stopped and I secured the aircraft, I heard him say, “congratulations!”. I couldn’t believe it. I was done, one year to the day. We took a picture, headed back in for the paperwork and i filed to fly back into the DC airspace (SFRA). By this time, the sun was setting, which made for a beautiful flight home.
I am finally a private pilot. There are very few times in ones life that you get the same emotions after achieving something like this: the birth of my daughter and wedding are really the only two that come to mind. All of my [seemingly] endless studying and time spent in the air has finally culminated to one day. And it was worth every penny and hour (both on the ground and in the air).
So, I cant end this without saying “Thank you” to Matt Kiddey, my Certified Flight Instructor, and the rest of the Freeway Aviation staff. While I did finish, I am not finished learning. As they say in aviation, you are never done learning. I will continue to track my flights with my family and friends on here. And speaking of which, I am starting the New Year out right – I’m taking my wife up tomorrow! If the weather holds out, I’ll have some video to post of that.
Total hours: 70