Nearly Blown Checkride

Many people let their fear of failing the checkride prevent them from completing their training. When this happens their fear causes exactly what they are afraid of… failure.

Instead of looking at a check-ride as a pass/fail, look at it as another learning experience. Hopefully you will pass, but if you fail, learn from it and try again.

When I had my checkride for my private pilot license, I almost blew it 5 minutes in. After completing the runup, my ” requested that I take off and perform a short field landing. I was extremely nervous, I was coming in way short of the runway, and I had to add a lot of power to salvage it.

After the landing, my “” had me stop right on the runway (there was no other traffic in the area), and we had a talk. I was sure he was going to have me taxi back to the ramp, and I was going to fly home a student pilot.

Instead after our talk he told me to taxi back around and try it again. I still thought I had failed the checkride and that he was just using the rest of the flight as training for me. All nervousness was now gone as it was replaced by the sheer anger I had at myself for failing my checkride so quickly.

My anger must have really focused me as I flew the rest of the checkride completely flawlessly. After taxiing back to the ramp when we were finished, he asked me to come inside with him.

When we were inside, he again mentioned how terrible my first attempt at the short field landing was. He then admitted he contemplated failing me at that time, but he decided that I was really nervous, so he would let me continue.

We talked again about that first landing, and how in that situation I should just have gone around and tried again rather than focusing on salvaging a landing from a terrible approach. He then said that having screwed up must have really focused me because I flew great after that.

At this time I was still really upset with myself. It seemed like he was just trying to cheer me up a little so I wouldn’t be afraid to come back and try it again. Then all of a sudden he said, “Congratulations, you are now a private pilot!”.

I was so surprised I nearly fell out of my seat! I had spent the past hour absolutely certain that I had failed, so I wasn’t quite sure how to react to hearing I had passed. What moments before was one of the worst days of my life instantly became one of the best.

So don’t be afraid of the checkride. They aren’t looking for perfection. In my case they basically erased that first landing and had me start over from the beginning. If you mess up, they can let you try again, and if you do fail, at least you will know what to expect for the next time.

Did any of you have any scares on your checkride?


I don’t think I had anything quite like that, but I did have a total mental lapse myself. Upon taking off on Runway 20, we were to head East and I turned downwind and started to fly around the pattern instead of a straight-out departure. Not a major problem, but I definitely felt stupid about that one!

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