Flight School Day 34

I’m two weeks behind now.

On September 19, 2008 I flew to McMinnville, Tennessee for my check-ride with Bill Barton.  Aaron came along for some last minute preparation and so if I failed something simple he would be able to train me on it some more and I would be able to retake the test.  Apparently a student pilot recently forgot to set his directional gyroscope for the cross-country portion of the check-ride and they ended up so far off course he was lost and unable to complete the cross-country portion without help.

I didn’t think to bring my checkbook to pay the examiner but just before we left Aaron reminded me and I went to the nearest bank ATM to withdraw the $350 fee.  The flight to McMinnville was nice but it became apparent that desire for nice calm winds was not going to happen.  The wind was almost perpendicular to the runway when we landed.

Then I met Bill Barton and we did the oral portion of the test.  He asked a bunch of questions about flying and flight preparation.  I did pretty well but I did learn a few things I was unaware of in the process like how to find the frequency for the Flight Service Station and what frequency to use to contact them if they talk back on a different frequency than the one you contact them on.

For the flying portion of the exam I prepared a really long cross-country flight.  That we were supposed to start out on after takeoff.  In Madison County we have runways 18 and 36 which align nicely with North and South.  McMinnville has 5 and 23 which run North East and South West.  I thought I was taking off North East when I was actually going South West… a mistake I’ve never made before so what better time to make it than on the check-ride.  Because of this I turned opposite of the way I needed to go before I checked my heading and realized the mistake I made.  I didn’t realize this but Aaron was getting very worried until I turned some more to get on course.

Mr. Barton had me indicate when I could see the first checkpoint which was Woodbury.  He also had me point out specific mountains and terrain on the map.  When I pointed out Woodbury he said to pretend we had to make a diversion due to bad weather to Smithville and take us there.  The trick to this was figuring out the course to fly without a precise calculation and by reference to terrain on the map.  I got us there without any problem.  When we arrived the weather report said we again had almost complete crosswind.

I flew downwind and started turning base when I realized my downwind was too close to the runway for me to make the turn all the way to final without some insane banking.  I was also way too high.  So about when I turned final I did a “go-around”.  This time I was farther from the runway when paralleling it on downwind.  Still, when I turned final I noticed I was way too high and performed a slip to lose altitude.  Mr. Barton said, “Good! I was going to ask you to demonstrate a slip anyway.”  That landing turned out well.  This airfield didn’t have much in the way of taxiways so we used the runway to taxi.  We also decided that above the ground I must have a tailwind on final that gets dissipated by the surrounding trees and terrain and doesn’t register on the windsock.  So we tried a flight around the pattern in the other direction and everything turned out better.

He then had me perform stalls with the power off.  And 360 degree steep turns to the left and right.  On one of my turns I was watching for a road and stopped on a different one and only did a 270, so I tried again :-)  He seemed pleased.  Then we did some unusual attitude recovery while I was wearing my “foggles” to prevent me from seeing outside.  They weren’t as wild as some Aaron had given me and I recovered from them.  The air was pretty bumpy during the entire flight and as a result there was a pretty good jolt while I had my eyes closed waiting for him to get the airplane in an unusual attitude… I suspected it was him trying to make things difficult, but he said it was just a gust.

We then flew back to McMinnville and he had me do a short field landing on the thousand foot line which I did.  We then taxied back to the FBO and he said I passed the checkride and am a private pilot.

After I payed him the $350 he took us out to eat.

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