Flight Test: The Good News And The Bad News

The Bad News is there’s still no cure for cancer.

Yes, I passed my Private Pilot flight test. First time, no partial, just straight up pass. So much less stressed now.

On the pre-test checkout, there was a moment that, for no reason at all, I started to feel that panic adrenaline rush. I fought it down, though, and by thursday, I was in that ready state of mind. Not that I felt sure of myself or anything, just that same state of mind I go into when I’m dealing with an emergency situation. Not panicked, not relaxed, but knowing I have to deal with something and I’m going to deal with it and deal with emotions later when it’s over.

Anyway, I made it though the ground part on Thursday, but since the examiner was booked tight with other flight tests, the flight part was put off until this morning.

I almost didn’t go today. Got up in the morning and looked at the TAF (local aviation weather forecast) and it looked like it wasn’t even worth getting out of bed. Cloud ceilings at 2500 feet and chance of thunderstorms, and the weather moving towards us, from the looks of it. But I thought, okay, I’m going to call St. Andrews and see if it’s any different out there. And it was – it was looking fine in the practice area, where we would be headed. But the weather was moving towards us… how fast? Hard to say with my experience. They said call Flight Information Services, so I did, and they gave me a pretty detailed rundown, around 60% or so which I understood, but it sounded like things were decently stable. I mean, things can change quickly…but they can always change quickly, especially in the summer. So we went, and the weather was perfectly fine, the whole time. There was a spatter of rain on the windshield taxiing out to the runway, and I was starting to notice it was getting a little bit rough as the ground warmed up towards the end of the flight, but that was all.

I’m not going to go into too much detail on the actual test. I thought I did worse on the precautionary than she said I did. Did a steep turn like a boss. Not so good on the slow flight – needed more power than I usually do. Lost marks for using ailerons in the power off stall, because I had a wing drop and that doesn’t usually happen on a power off stall and I wasn’t ready for it. Better on the power on stall, but that was where I forgot to put the flaps back up at first. *headdesk* My short field landing was flat, but the normal landing at the end, while it was almost short of the touchdown point, was smooth as silk, with just a bit of crosswind correction. Oh, and I get thrown off terribly by slipping, and she made me slip on that last landing, and I did it and it didn’t mess me up. Yay me.

But for all that, on the marking scale of 1-4, 1 being fail (if you get more than two 1’s you fail), and 4 being exceptional, I got no 1’s at all, and apparently several 4’s.

So does that mean I have my Private Pilot’s Licence now?

Actually, no. Normally people do the written test first, and then the flight test, but my ground school class was kinda behind, and so we put off the written test and I haven’t done it yet. But I did do one of the practice tests and got 80% on it, and the section with the lowest mark was 70% – a passing mark is 60%, and no less than 60% on any of the four sections. So I’m not terribly worried about that one. I’ll get it done in the next few days, and then I’ll have my full Private Pilot’s License.

But now I’m going to go celebrate or something and give my nerve wracked brain a rest!

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12 responses to “Flight Test: The Good News And The Bad News

  1. Well done Lindsay, take the evening off!

    Assuming you get this pilots license, what’s next?

    A

    • Probably some checkouts to give myself a rest – I’d like to do a tail-wheel checkout and a cessna 172 checkout. I also want to do the aerobatics course, mostly for fun, but commercial pilots tell me it’s good for developing airmanship, so worthwhile even if it’s not required for the commercial license or jobs. Also, when the days start getting shorter, I will be doing a night rating, and all that will be going towards my commercial license.

  2. Congratulations! That’s so exciting, you’ll do great on the written. From your posts and what I know about the process here, I’m surprised at some of the differences. I believe we cannot do our check ride without the written done because the examiner grills you on what you missed on the written. And technically, we always have to call the for a weather brief or sign into an official site so they have a record of it. If you don’t, then any accident is your fault because you didn’t check the weather.
    Again, congrats! When you do your written who is going to be your first passenger?

    • Interesting. The FIC guy did ask me for the registration of the plane we were taking, for liability purposes, but I think that particular difference might be a sign that Canada tends to be a less litigious society. I dunno. They’re not too wishy washy about who’s responsible for anything in an aeroplane – it’s always the PIC’s responsibility, all the time, for everything. It’s stressed that it’s all on you – I can’t imagine here that you could get away with sloughing the blame off on anyone else, with or without a weather briefing.

      First passenger – your examiner is technically your first passenger, since the flight test is recorded as solo time, with you as PIC. But my first real passenger, I hope will be my husband, though his mother is also standing in line to go. He has trouble with altitude changes, so I’ll have to make sure I don’t do too steep a landing with him 😛 I’d like to take my Dad too, but I might wait until I have the aerobatics rating so I can do that with him, because I know he’d have fun with that.

  3. I am SO, SO PROUD. OMG. Do you know how long it took me to get to this point? A year and a half. I was telling my husband that you were taking your flight test, and I said, “It makes me feel so inadequate that she has done this so fast,” and he said, “don’t be ridiculous. You helped get someone interested in learning to fly.” I don’t think I can give myself a whole lot of credit for your accomplishment, but I am still very, very proud. Of you and, smugly, of myself. You totally rock! A drunken dose of My Little Pony is completely deserved.

    I feel rather exhausted on your behalf.

    • Well, I am doing this full time, and barely working. I’m really lucky to be able throw all I’ve got into it, and I definitely realize someone doing fewer lessons a week would certainly take longer. I think I’ve got almost 70 hours now.

      And yeah, I ha been writing about a female pilot for two years before reading Code Name Verity, but after reading it, that was the first time it really occurred to me that there were other people who felt like I do about flying, and could imagine myself in the pilot’s seat in a real way, rather than distancing myself from it through a character I made up. I had, for a long time, avoided thinking about it too hard because I was trying to keep myself from wanting it too badly, since I was so sure it was something I could never have.

      It’s been weird, meeting other pilots, and realizing that I’m not alone, that there are people who love flying as much as I do, and I can talk about it and they *get* it.

      I’m still tickled that Elizabeth Wein is commenting on my blog….

      • you will find that your fictional writing about piloting improves now, I bet. And in fact I had about 70 hours when I got my license. It is so cool that you have pulled this off – best wishes for the continuing adventure!

        • Oh yes, it already has improved my aviation related writing 🙂

          I can’t really even describe how I feel. This has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever subjected myself to, an I was so afraid of letting down all the people who believed in me. I’ve been under stress before, but it’s always been a scrambling to do the best I can and that’ll have to be good enough sort of situation, and generally in a team of people given more than we can handle, where blame for shortcomings is shared among the group, or even not our fault at all. And The things that I’ve accomplished alone – writing novels, mainly, are things I can take however much time I need to polish.

          A flight test is so much more intense than anything I’ve ever done before. You get one shot at each test item, and it’s gotta be good enough the first time, and if it’s not, there’s no one to blame, no one I’m relying on for something who’s not coming through. It’s all on me, and that makes my success that much more satisfying.

    • I definitely will be. At some point I’ll also have to break it to my instructor that I’ll eventually be killing her fictional counterpart. I hope she understands, it’s traditionally considered a great honour.

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