Visibility: special VFR
Location: deep in the woods behind the airport
I am at the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway today (this is the actual title, I looked it up!). The building is in the woods on the far side behind the cities’ airport. There is a lake here, a few military installations and the “FNAEGTPR”.
Today I am being tested for my radio license. We are a group of seven in the waiting room. One person is from my flight school as well. We catch up while we are waiting.
The test starts with theory. 100 multiple choice questions in 60 minutes. I get 95 points, everybody in the group is above 90.
For the practical test, we have an air traffic controller here. Everybody gets a map of a different airport. We can choose our own call sign and our destination. I am getting the international version of the radio certificate. So I do the departure in English. Everybody else sticks with German.
I have been training for today both at my flight school and online. I feel well prepared but I have also heard a lot of stories about traps build into the test by the controllers.
Either this is all exaggerated or I have a darling of a controller. He speaks slowly and clearly, the departure routes are demanding but not cruel. He asks questions to see if we are up to speed but no traps.
For the approach we get new airports. We have a minute to find approach routes and frequencies and then we go on. All goes well, we are all routed into the approach pattern of our respective airports when my neighbor loses his orientation.
His virtual Cessna is approaching Runway 25, so the runway heading is 250 degrees. He is on the base leg, one 90 degree left turn away from the runway. So his heading right now is 340 degrees.
The controller asks for his current heading and he says 160 which would be the opposite heading. He is turned around in his head and because of the stress of the exam, he does not manage to snap out of it.
The controller asks him again and then a third time. Then he asks him to perform a go-around maneuver and fly the approach again. The poor pilot checks his map, repeats the calculation of headings on his scrap paper and sticks with 160 degrees. He will have to be back in two weeks time and try again.
After landing we get our licenses and the others go home. I have to stick around a bit longer for the language proficiency test. It is part of the international license in order to make sure that I can say more than just the standard phrases in English. I listen to different tapes and answer questions. Then the controller interviews me – more of a chat, really.
On my way back to civilization through the woods I hear the deep rumble of a starting airliner behind the trees. I am one step closer to the private pilots license.
To be continued…
(originally posted on March 2, 2012 by tilbo at aloft.blog.com/radio-license/)