The word, "Checkride" was mentioned, today!

Naw,, I haven't been writing about every lesson,,, but I DO write,,,, eventually <GRIN>.

I had a great practice session last Thursday. This time I was back in the Cessna 172 practicing the Commercial maneuvers (I hadn’t flown in the C-172 for a few months since my previous sessions had all been in the Arrow). Since I had had a several month ‘absence’ from the C-172 I was more than a little curious what my flying would look like; mainly, how my landings would be since I had been doing landings in the low-wing Arrow III the past couple of months.

We did some stall recoveries, steep (50 degree bank) turns, descending steep spirals, Lazy-Eights (boy, they aren’t kidding when they say that learning the lazy-8’s will give commercial certificate students the fits <g> - they really need some work), Chandelles, turns on pylons and of course, John’s day would not be complete without pulling the power on me in the middle of cruising flight to simulate an engine-out.

For the most part things went well (considering I hadn’t worked in this plane for a few months because of the training in the Arrow). John (my CFI) told me that everything looked okay with a few maneuvers needing some polishing around the edges, so-to-speak. I chimed in “Except for the Lazy-Eights”. He agreed that they would need some additional focus but also went on and told me that they ALWAYS cause Commercial students the most grief and that I would be fine.

We have TWO sessions per week scheduled starting next week (I have been flying one a week to manage costs, since the Arrow rents for a good bit more than a C-172) I had added the extra sessions before Thursday’s lesson since I figured we must be getting near checkride time.

John told me that he had got my email regarding the ‘ramping-up’ of training frequency but went on to tell me that he really didn’t think I would require all of the 2x/week I had scheduled for the future weeks to be ready for the checkride. Then he went on to ask me which checkride examiner I would like to do my checkride with and he named a few names (two of which I recognized and had flown with for previous checkrides). This time ‘round I told him I’d pick the same examiner that I had used for my private pilot checkride (about 5 years ago). Just thought it might be ‘cool’ to take a Commercial checkride with an examiner that had been my first examiner ever.

By the way, one of the things I was curious about is how my landing would be in the C172 at the end of our lesson; I really needn’t have wondered – I touched down softer than I’ve ever touched down in that Arrow and was able to head off to the taxiway at row Charlie (a little more than just a third of the way down the runway) <grin>.

Funny part about it all is that from the moment I strapped into the C-172 it felt like I had never had any absence from it (i.e., during my training in the Arrow)

So John, said that the checkride would be sometime in April (he’d have to get hold of the Designated Examiner and work out the details on the scheduling with her).

In preparation for my oral exam I've been listening to the audio portion of the King Commercial Checkride Video which I have been playing over and over and over and over in the car .  I’ve learned that this can be a good way to take advantage of time that would otherwise be just spent dealing with traffic and open another opportunity for studying when I can’t read a book or watch a training video.

Since my CFI had no objection, I’ve also began studying for my CFI written exam. It may sound a bit premature since I haven’t finished my Commercial yet, but I’ve been doing nothing but studying for exams and taking them for quite some time now (ex: Instrument Written, Instrument Ground Instructor Written, Certificated Flight Instructor Instrument Written, Fundamentals of Instruction Written ((I’ve taken and passed these tests with flying colors already))). So, I figure I am definitely ‘conditioned’ and ‘in-the-groove’ for studying for these exams. I was anxious to get into some of the CFI knowledge content so it seemed to be a perfect opportunity. John, pointed out to remind me that most of the hard part of the CFI training will be the study he and I will do together where I will need to learn how to teach concepts and flight to a student.

In also studying for the CFI written (which technically I could take anytime I was ready and there is no flight instructor endorsement required to take the exam) I’ve discovered that a lot of it is revisiting concepts that I have already RECENTLY studied in getting/working on my Instrument ticket and Commercial training. Thankfully the stuff I hadn’t been exposed to is fascinating stuff. Especially the section on Aerodynamics; I’m finding it exciting because some of the ‘cracks’ in my knowledge are being filled-in with the answers. Admittedly, some of the concepts and information presented are fairly esoteric; for instance knowing that one can calculate pivotal altitude by taking the square of one’s groundspeed in knots and dividing it by 11.3, is not something that one would typically do in a plane <grin>. The section on wing shapes, aspect ratio, angle of incidence and more are VERY interesting and once again, help fill in some of those minor ‘gaps’ in knowledge that makes the ‘whole picture’ even clearer!

So, it looks like I will likely have my Commercial Checkride sometime in April (assuming the preparation is going well,, which it should be… John doesn’t seem to have any doubts about it, of course I seem to be ‘harder’ on myself <g>).

After next week I will likely be doing solo practice in the Arrow III and some dual work on the maneuvers in the C-172 (interspersed with some solo work in it as well). Before we get to the checkride, I will have to get the commercial dual night cross country out of the way (I’m REALLY not looking forward to that because I typically get sleepy around 9:30PM and we will probably be landing back at RHV around 10pm or so – we’ll be doing the dual night cross-country to San Luis Obispo airport (which I’ve flown over in that flight I took in the C172 to Oceano,,, in the daytime, mostly, of course).

I’ll bet John will be curious to see what kind of flight plan I’ll come up with. Since there are lots of BIG HILLS (some might call them mountains) on the way there I believe my strategy will be to navigate by some of the IFR airways since the altitudes associated with them guarantee adequate terrain clearance. Of course the route has to be flown VFR but I will still primarily be on instruments though I will not be flying IFR in the strictest sense. I’ve been back over some of that area in the evening and it gets blacker than the inside of a cow (including hills that take on the color of the general blackness). So flying the MEA (Minimum Enroute Altitudes) altitudes plus 500 feet (so that we will be at a VFR altitude) will guarantee that nice Mr. PilotGuy doesn’t become ‘one with the hills’ in a literal, not figurative sense <<<<GRIN>>>>>>.

 Below graphic designed by: Jeff Bucchino,
"The Wizard of Draws" (copyright owner)

Good Flights!

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