After I successfully completed my solo cross-country flights, and after I successfully passed the FAA Private Pilot written exam, it was time to begin preparing for my check ride. The FAA check ride is an oral and practical exam through which, an FAA Designated Examiner evaluates the pilot’s flying and knowledge abilities, and then determines if they qualify for the FAA Private Pilot Certificate. If a student pilot’s flight instructor is also the FAA Designated Examiner, the required three hours of preparation for the check ride, must be conducted by another flight instructor.
Evelyn assigned Noble a kind, patient flight instructor to conduct my preparation for the FAA check ride. Noble spent a few hours with me reviewing for the oral portion of the exam, by covering all of the FAA regulations, the aircraft systems and performance charts, cross-country planning, emergency procedures, etc. Next, Noble conducted two preparatory flights with me to evaluate my ability to fly all of the maneuvers to standard, and to assess my airmanship. After that flight, Noble sat me down and said, “Eric, you are ready my friend. Let’s tell Evelyn that you are ready for your check ride.” I beamed and said, “Thank you Noble!”
A week later, nervous and anxious, I arrived at the airport and met Evelyn who said, “OK Eric, are you ready?” I said reluctantly, “Yes ma’am.” “Well, today I am not your flight instructor. Today, I am the examiner and I will evaluate your knowledge and airmanship. I will be fair, but I will not give you any instruction,” Evelyn directed. We sat down at one of the tables in the airport lounge and began the exam. An hour later, I was sweating and mentally exhausted. Evelyn told me, “You are ready to do the flight portion Eric. I will give you time to pre-flight the, then we will do the air work,” she said.
After a thorough pre-flight, and after several pointed questions about the aircraft, required documents for flight, etc., we were airborne and flying toward the practice area. After demonstrating stalls, slow flight, steep turns, and the rest, we descended to 1000’ AGL and I demonstrated the ground reference maneuvers to Evelyn. Next, we flew back to the airport and I demonstrated normal, short field, soft field, and takeoffs and landing, and simulated emergency landings. “Let’s taxi back to the airport Eric,” Evelyn smiled.
Evelyn said, “Go ahead and tie down and secure the airplane, and I will see you inside Eric.” I was confused though, because Evelyn did not tell me whether I had passed or failed. I was uncertain whether I would have to retake the check ride or not. As I walked into the office though, there was my Dad and Evelyn beaming and clapping. “Congratulations Eric, you did it, you are a pilot! “ She handed me my temporary pilot certificate, gave me a hug, and said, “You did so well, I am proud of you.”
In my next blog, I will share a few stories about some flights I made with my high school friends and family. I will also talk about the long hiatus from aviation, which took me away from my passion and vocational aspirations. Stay Tuned.