Visibility: more than 10k
Temperature: 2°C
Wind: 200°, 5 knots
QNH: 998hPa
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: D-EFNK (Cessna 172)

It is the nicest day in weeks. The clouds are orange with the morning sun against a blue sky. The instructor is very upbeat when I arrive at the flight school. The gray weather of the last couple of weeks demoralized not only his students.

Last night, I talked to the examiner on the phone. He gave me the route for today so that I can prepare the flight. I get busy on the flight planning sheet, fill in this mornings weather. It takes me a long time to complete the calculations. I am nervous.

The examiner arrives and is very relaxed. He is new and my instructor pays a lot of attention to the questions he asks and the things he checks. With a cup of coffee, we go through the papers. After I answered all of his questions about the registration and the radio certificate, he wants to go fly.

I’m after a mouth full of letters: PPL-A JAR-FCL. That is the “Private Pilots License for airplanes” (PPL-A) after Part “Flight Crew Licensing” (FCL) of the “Joined Aviation Requirements” (JAR) of the “Joined Aviation Authorities” (JAA) of Europe. One of the joined requirements is the rating for “Controlled Visual Flight Rule” (CVFR). I am scheduled for the check ride this morning.

Thorough pre-flight

This is my fourth check-ride. I start with a very thorough pre-flight check and talk about everything I do. The examiner has a lot of questions but I am prepared. Last time I did not know the alternator from the starter – this is not going to happen to me again!

Our route will take us into the controlled airspace of the big city today. We plan a low approach at the international airport before we leave to the south for navigation drills and air work. All in all the small triangle should not take us more than an hour.

The home base is very close to the class D airspace of the big city. So I need to check in with Air Traffic Control (ATC) quickly after take-off. Before I call the controller, the examiner tells me that I can announce that this is a check ride if I like. Some examiners will not let you do that as the controller might then treat you differently.

The frequency is not very busy. After I have announced our intentions, we are cleared for the controlled airspace right away. The examiner picks up the mike and talks to the controller again “we would like to do a low pass” he says. My mind is on high alert. Did I not just announce that to the controller? I thought I did. In fact I am almost certain that I did! The controller comes back after a perceivable pause “yes,…that is how I understood your intentions” she says. I am relieved!

The flight through the class D airspace is uneventful. I announce the compulsory reporting points and the controller acknowledges it. Except for these exchanges, there is no traffic on the VFR frequency. I have time to relax and to enjoy the flight.

The timing for our low pass is good. We are cleared for the approach and I turn from base to final. The perspective on the massive runway with its landing lights in front of us, is quite spectacular.

Trying to keep the time we block the approach sector as short as possible, I do not set flaps and fly in fast. A few feet above the ground, I round out, close the carburetor heat and push the throttle forward. The large Lycoming in front of us rumbles to life and pulls us out of the Airbus territory. The first part of the check ride is over.


I have come to like VORs very much. These “light houses” of aviation are a bit anachronistic but very reliable. We determine the course to the VOR on our route, then I determine the wind influence and follow the examiners instruction to approach the VOR on a different course. He asks and I answer. Only once he succeeds in confusing me a bit, but I manage to regroup.

Almost there

We are on course back to the home base. The last items on the protocol are steep turns. A full circle at 45 degree bank with holding altitude and speed is a difficult thing to do and I need three attempts before the right seat is happy.

The landing is the best I have done in weeks. Perfect approach and a smooth landing, my instructor will be proud.

After the engine is shut down, the instructor smiles. I have passed!

To be continued…


(originally posted on February 14, 2013 by tilbo at

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