Check ride

Check ride

Visibility: more than 10 kilometers
ceiling: more than 5.000 feet
GAFOR: “C” clear skies!
Temperature: 26°C
Wind: 300, 10 knots
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: “Kilo Sierra” (Cessna 172)

A check ride is a test of the pilots nerves. Your instructor will not sign you up before he is sure that you are ready. The examiner is not interested in failing you either. So the only thing you realy have to worry about, are your own nerves.

I have had several check-rides. The first one, for my sports pilots license, was the worst. In the beginning, my hands were shaking from nervousness. In the end I passed and found out, that the examiner was both understanding and doing his best to help me calm down.

Today I have my next check ride. I will try to get the class rating for single engine piston aircraft with up to 2 tons of maximum take-off weight.

The day starts with coffee and sandwiches in the flight school. The office manager tells me later on that she always gets sandwiches on the day of a check ride. She found that a snack gives the examiner a good mood and helps the student relax. She is great!

And what does this do?

Kilo Sierra is waiting for us on the apron. We start with a thorough pre-flight check. I keep talking and comment the checks I perform. I learned early on that this is important. The examiner follows me around the aircraft and asks many questions. More than I expected. And then he gets me.

He points at the air intake behind the propeller. A small device, driven by a belt is mounted there. “So, what does this do?” he asks.

My instructor is very much a pilot and not so much a technician. We never took the cowling off, I have never examined the engine except for the parts visible through the oil filler door. “Alternator, generator, starter…?” I try to guess. The examiner smiles, “yes, one of the above”.

After he tells me that we are looking at the alternator, he wants to see me fly.

Turn, stall, glide

We take-off and go towards Neuhardenberg. On the way over there we do full circles in various degrees of bank as well as some stall drills and slow flight. Nobody answers my calls in Neuhardenberg (as expected) and so we use the runway for a low pass and go-arround maneuver.

We climb out and go over to Eggersdorf for the more demanding part of the check ride. Various start- and landing drills. We perform a short field landing and take-off, a landing without engine power and a landing without flaps. Finally we simulate an engine failure shortly after take-off. In this maneuver, everything has to be very fast (nose down, flaps out, watch your speed, flare, land). We have trained this many times and I know the drill.

The examiners check list is complete and we go back to Strausberg (track of the route, Google Earth plug-in required). I land and while we taxi back to the apron, he asks me for the times of the landings in Eggersdorf. He’s got me again, I did not write them down. Stupid mistake! I tell him that I will have to call the tower in Eggersdorf and ask for the times. “They will role their eyes at you” he says and tells me that he has got them.

I’m unhappy about the stupid mistakes. The examiner is cool about it. He smiles and congratulates me. The rest must have been enough for the rating.

To be continued…


(originally posted on August 15, 2012 by tilbo at

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