2 posts categorized ‘Flight Training’

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?

Stick it Out

One of the biggest reasons there are so few pilots is for the simple reason that most people who start out to get a pilot license quit before finishing their training.  I understand this as I was almost one of them myself.  Had it not been for a phone call from my instructor, I might not be a pilot today.

During my training a series of events conspired against me to push me away from flying.  The biggest was the weather.  For a couple of weeks every time I scheduled an appointment to fly, bad weather forced the flight to be canceled.

Once weather had me grounded, a change in departments and hours at work cost me another week while I adapted to new work and sleep habits.  Throw in the fact that it was now the middle of summer, and I had a very busy schedule with family reunions, weddings, etc, and the next thing I knew it had been a month and half without a flight.

Doubt Sets In
By that time I was getting nervous about getting in an airplane again.  How much had I forgotten?  How rusty had my skills become?  If I am this busy, perhaps I just don’t have time to be a pilot.  Perhaps I should just hang up the wings, afterall I already have piloted more than most people ever will.

The biggest doubt facing me though was that looming checkride.  How would I ever be able to pass it?  I felt that since I had missed a month and half, I had forgotten everything.  I would have to start over in order to be able to master flight enough to actually pass that checkride and earn my certificate.

These questions and thoughts kept racing through my mind, and I actually managed to convince myself that I just wasn’t cut out to be a pilot.  For if I was meant to be a pilot, surely I would have found time to fly within the past month and a half.  At that time I was letting my doubts overwhelm me.  They were weighing so heavily on me that they made me forget about all of the joys flying had brought me.

My Life Line
All of those doubts were instantly wiped away with one phone call.  My flight instructor called my house, and fortunately I answered the phone.  My instructor said that he hadn’t seen me at the airport for a while, and that I needed to schedule some flight time.

I tried to explain to him that I was just too busy, and that I was having doubts I would be a pilot.  Besides the weather wasn’t looking good, so I didn’t know when to schedule a flight.  My instructor wasn’t having any of it though.

He told me I couldn’t count on the weather.  I should just schedule some time, and if the weather is bad, reschedule.  By waiting to schedule until there was good weather, I was letting my schedule fill up will other activities, which then made me unavailable when good weather did come.

When I reminded him about my other apprehensions, he told me I was just nervous, and the only cure for that was to get back into the airplane.  Since he wasn’t taking no for an answer, I scheduled an appointment.

Luckily the weather cooperated, and my instructor put me through the paces knocking the rust off.  After that one flight, the worries of the past month and a half melted away.  I was able to once again focus on becoming a pilot, and a couple of months later I passed that “impossible” checkride.

Dream Attained
So don’t let apprehensions and doubt derail you from your dreams.  If you, like I was, are hesitant to keep training because you doubt you can pass the checkride, overcome your fears.  With proper training it isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

Besides, so what if you don’t pass the checkride?  Use that checkride as another learning experience and try taking it again.  Even if you are never able to pass that checkride, which I’m sure you will, at least you will have logged more flight time as a student pilot, and that is better than not flying at all.

I was lucky that I had a flight instructor that wanted to see people become pilots and keep flying afterwards.  Had he not made that phone call, I seriously doubt that I would be flying airplanes today.

What about you?  Was there a point in your training where you thought about hanging up the wings?