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Schlagwort: check ride



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

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



Visibility: good
Temperature: 18°C
Wind: 150°, 10 knots, gusts up to 15 knots
QNH: 1015hPa
Location: Drewitz (EDCD)
Equipment: Cessna 150

My alarm clock wakes me up very early today. It is the big day – the check ride for my private pilots license is scheduled for this noon.

I arrive at the airport early. The instructor and I do the flight planning together before we take-off for Drewitz, were we will meet up with the examiner. It is about half an hour as the Cessna flies.

Last night, the examiner gave me the routing on the phone. Drewitz (EDCD) to Kamenz (EDCM), from there over to Bronkow (EDBQ) which we are going to use as a turning point and then back to Drewitz. On the way we will do some air work, in Kamenz we plan to do emergency landing drills and a landing without engine power. I am not familiar with the area and I have not been to Kamenz before. We will see how it goes.

In Drewitz we still have time for a few landings. My first approach is pretty lousy, the second one is a bit high and after the round out I drop the aircraft onto the runway with a thud. The third try is better. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

We taxi to the apron and wait for the examiner to arrive. He is on a check ride with another student from my flight school. When they arrive, the other student and I shake hands and he tells me not to worry. “He is a nice guy”.

The examiner and I do a quick preflight briefing. Then we take off. My instructor has told me to keep talking. So I talk. I explain everything I do and  comment on everything I see. The examiner nods and does not say much.


The first part of the trip is easy. There are many references to navigate by. The air is rough and I have difficulties holding my altitude. It can be difficult to find an unfamiliar airport. Luckily I find Kamenz without any problems. I enter the pattern and we land. The cross wind is close to the limit of the C150 and I am having difficulties working against the drift. The landing is not cat like but acceptable. We go around and as we are climbing out, the controller calls us. Pattern work is not permitted during the lunch time at Kamenz. Neither the examiner nor I knew that and so we have to change our plans. We have to come back down to pay for the landing. So we make the next approach the landing without power.

No power

We climb to 2.000 feet and I fly over the runways threshold. Then I announce my intention, make sure the mixture is rich, turn the carburetor heat on and pull the throttle to idle. I trim Lima X-Ray for best glide at about 80 mph and make a 180 degree turn to the left. I check the position relative to the runway. We are sinking fast. I turn towards the runway and we come out of the turn very low. I get a bit nervous and the examiner tells me to add a bit of power. Bummer, that is not the idea of the drill. I don’t know if that is a serious problem or not.

We park the aircraft, pay the landing fee at the tower and go back after a little break. The instructor points at the tower. The elevation of the airport is painted in big numbers on the wall. 495 feet. My altitude indicator shows over 600 feet. “There are the hundred feet you were missing on the landing” he says. When we left, I set the altimeter to the QNH. That is the pressure altitude that is published by commercial airports. I am surprised that it is so much of a difference. Before we go again, I set the altimeter to 495 feet.

The next part of the trip leads to the way point of Bronkow. I am getting more relaxed. My navigation works and the examiner is getting more talkative. I have prepared the radial of a near by VOR as confirmation for my navigation. I turn the navigational radio on to the VORs frequency (tell the examiner about it) and watch the VOR indicators slow movement as we get closer to the way point.

Air work

The last leg of the trip is very easy. There is a very big power plant just right of Drewitz and I can see it from the waypoint. So from now on, we just go towards it. We are using this bit for “air work”. The examiner lets me fly full circles at a specified bank and we do stall drills. When it is time to contact Drewitz that we are approaching, he tells me to fly another landing without power there. I fly over there threshold at 2.000 feet again. This time I make the turn steeper. When I am sure I will make it to the runway, I start setting flaps. 10 degrees, check altitude and position, 20 degrees, looking good, 30 degrees, the little Cessna feels like a giant holds it by the tail. The nose is in a steep dive and we are crossing the threshold at about 20 feet – good.

“That’s it” the examiner says. “Was that enough or did you have enough?” I ask. “I’ve had enough” he says without smiling. We taxi to the apron and he tells me a few things I should work on for the future. “You will get your license in the mail” he says and shakes my hand. Now he smiles.

On the way back to Strausberg, I fly my last leg of the day. I am tired but very happy. After take-off, I contact the controller in Drewitz. “D-EALX leaving the frequency with a newly passed check ride.” The controller congratulates me, my instructor smirks.

To be continued…


(originally posted on May 20, 2012 by tilbo at

Big Day

Big Day

Visibility: almost unlimited
Temperature: 14°C
QNH: 1020hPa
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: MD3 Rider (D-MALJ)

I’m up early. I did not sleep well, woke up several times. I’m nervous. Yesterday I spent three hours at the flight school drinking coffee and listening to the rain. It should have been my practice run but we stayed on the ground. “I’m sure it’s gonna be okay” says the teacher. I don’t feel well prepared.

My wife tries to calm me down over breakfast. I look at the sky. It is completely over cast but it looks light. Without a reference it is very difficult to tell how high the clouds are. I need 2,000 feet, more would be better.

On the way to the airport I watch an airliner turn into the final approach of the near by commercial airport. I know that it is flying in the controlled airspace “charly” which is above 2,500 feet here. The large jet is not even close to the clouds. One less thing to worry about.

I’m at the airport very early. Watching as an early pilot gets his Cessna ready, I look at the sky. The sun is dyeing the clouds orange. It looks pretty together with the light blue patches in between.

The secretary of the flight school arrives and the office smells of coffee. I fire up the computer to start with my flight preparations. At least this I practiced yesterday. The weather data of the GAFOR system looks promising. Except for the wind direction. ‘VRB’ (variable) means that I have no direction to put into the flight plan. So I can not compensate for the wind. 10 knots is not too bad, though.

The examiner arrives just as I’m getting the flight plan ready. I like him. He was also the examiner for the theory class last year. He is very experienced and very calm. He radiates calm – just what I need now!

Three out of five

We chat for a few moments until the mechanic comes in to tell us that the aircraft is ready. The first part of the test is precision landings. I have five tries to get three right. I tell the examiner that I did not practice yesterday because of the weather and that I would like to fly two patterns before we get startet. He smiles in a friendly way and says I should not bother but start with the precision landings right away.

I do a slow and thorough pre flight check. The examiner is watching me and I comment on every check item as the flight instructor has taught me to do. We taxi out to the runway. The examiner gets out to watch my landings from the side of the runway. I am cleared for take-off and bring the aircraft in position on the center line. 1,200 meters of runway in front of me with a slight slope. My hand is shaking when I let go of the yoke. Come on, get a grip, you can do this!

A precision landing is an emergency landing exercise. You fly over the threshold of the runway at 2,000 feet. Then you pull the engine to idle and fly a full circle in order to arrive at the threshold and touch-down within a 150 meter area. I begin the first one and come in too high. My circle was not wide enough and I am still at a comfortable altitude over the landing area. I push the throttle forward and go around. One out of five.

On the second attempt I talk to myself loudly. I call out altitudes and way points. I come in too high again. I can safely get the aircraft on the ground now but I am way out of the 150 meter area. So I go around again. Strike two, now it has to work.

The talking to myself helps. I remember my altitudes from the last round and fly a wider circle. At 700 feet I set the flaps to 15° and slip a few moments to loose more altitude. During the flare, shortly before touch-down, I cross the middle marker of the landing area. I force Lima Juliet to sit down and turn the left over kinetic energy into squeaking rubber. Not cat like but within the landing area. I’m getting calmer.

Turn number four, I am actually a bit low. The flight instructor told me before, that I can cheat a little by giving the engine just a half a turn of power to slow down the descent. As long as I don’t gain altitude again, the examiner would not be able to tell from the tower. My examiner is not on the tower but right next to the runway. So much for cheating. I set the flaps late and actually make a respectable landing.

Number five is actually good. I break and stop the aircraft on the runway. I close my eyes for a second and take a deep breath. On to the second part.

The examiner gets on board and we take-off for the second part of the test. Now I go on course 121 on the first leg of my prepared rout. On the way the examiner asks me to perform several maneuvers. A “flat 8″ were I do two circles and should arrive back at the staring point. Rolling the aircraft from one side to the other around the center line.

“Keep in mind, the nearest exit might be behind you…”

Just after crossing a near by airport, he pulls the engine to idle to simulate an engine failure. I push the nose down to control the speed and then turn back to the airport behind us. Examiners love to I see whether the examinees are looking for an empty field ahead or if they remember the safety of a nice and plane runway just behind them. I was prepared for this, he can not fool me. A few minutes later we simulate landing on a field. I set full flaps in order to be as slow as possible on touch-down. It feels as if someone is holding the aircraft by the tail. Just before I am able to identify what is growing below us, he tells me to go. We scare a few cows as the engine screams to life.

A moment later he does catch me off guard by asking which air space is above us and at what altitude. I blank and fight with the map for a bit before I can give the answer.

I keep talking as I was told by my instructor. I volunteer possible emergency landing areas, tell were the wind is coming from and comment on the engine readings. The examiner does not say much. I know it is the way he is and it actually calms me down.

“Please stay seated until the aircraft has come to a complete stop”

The trip is meant to take just over 30 minutes but by the time we are approaching Strausberg again, almost one hour has elapsed. All the drills and emergency landings take time.

The landing is acceptable and we taxi back to the apron. I carefully follow the shut-down check list. Then I fill in the log book. “So, what do you think?” asks the examiner. I decide to take the bull by the horns and say “I thought it was okay.” He smiles and shakes my hand “I though so too. Congratulations.”

To be continued…


(originally posted on April 16, 2011 by tilbo at