Pilot’s License - Check Ride

It was a brisk, sunny afternoon on May 9, 2006 when the FAA check ride examiner quizzed me about the aeronautical rules and theory of flying at Skypark airport. For the most part, he nodded and confirmed my answers. On two questions, he pointed out that I hadn’t answered quite correctly and explained why. He also went over my documents and those belonging to the aircraft.

“Okay, go pre-flight the aircraft, and I’ll be out in a moment or two.”

Once I had the aircraft ready, we headed for the runway.  The examiner quizzed me about the course he had assigned earlier, which was to prepare a plan for direct flight to Columbus’ Don Scott Airport. I had a disagreement with my instructor who said I should lay out a direct course and only use landmarks to verify my course. I had chosen to fly via the VOR radio beacons because I believed that to be more reliable navigation method.

“So, the first leg will be 208 degrees to the Tiverton VOR?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve also got several visible checkpoints enroute.”

“Okay, take off and do a standard departure before establishing your course.”

We took off and the Cessna 152, tail number 4659B, climbed up to pattern altitude where I turned the plane to the course. At the first checkpoint – where two railroad lines crossed – the examiner instructed me to break off the course and execute a series of steep turns, slow flights and other standard maneuvers.  He took the controls at one point to show me a more effective way of recovering from a departure stall – different than what my instructor had shown me. Then he had me put on the ‘hood’ for a few minutes of turns and climbs using only instruments for navigation.

“Okay, take off the hood.”  The examiner pulled the throttle to idle. “Your engine just quit.”

I trimmed the plane to a stable glide, verbally walked through an attempted engine restart and setting the transponder to the emergency frequency. Once done with these items, I glanced around and realized that we were a short distance from Wadsworth Airport. On the radio, I announced a simulated engine-out landing, and began to circle the plane in.

On the second turn, I realized the plane was too low to fly another circle, and well above the glide path for the runway. “Okay, I’m going in and slipping the plane.”

Once lined up with the runway, I applied full right rudder and turned the yoke to the left, pointing the nose down. The plane descended rapidly while flying sideways. I held the forward slip until the plane was about twenty feet above the runway before straightening it out. I held the nose up and the main wheels touched down with a chirp.

“Okay, touch and go. Time to head back to Skypark.” The examiner scribbled something on his notepad.

After I landed at Skypark and taxied to the parking area, I went through the usual shutdown procedure.

As the plane shook as the engine shut down, the examiner said, “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

At that moment, I began to think that the examiner had found reason to fail me. I grabbed the checklist and scanned over it. Yep, I’d done everything on the check list. I looked up.

“That’s right.  Always use your check list. By the way, congratulations, you’re now a pilot.”