Scheduling and Fees
Unfortunatly, I have had a number of "No Shows" or canceling with little notice happen recently. So, If I haven't work with you or your school in the past, or you are coming from a place far, far away, I maybe asking for a 50% deposit to hold a spot on the schedule. I will apply the deposit to the checkride fee. If you "no-show" or cancel within 24 hours I will keep the deposit. I know that aircraft break and people get sick, so I will extend the deposit if you reschedule with me.
I've used several scenarios in my check rides for over a decade. Here are are a few to think about. Note, you may or may not get one of these on your checkride with me. I do like to change things around as I don't like to get board!
Private pilot: You have been asked to do a Pilot and Paw’s trip to deliver a Golden Retriever puppy to its new family in KXYZ. The puppy and crate weigh 35 lbs. A handler will be going with who weighs 160 lbs. Plan the VFR cross country based on the current weather conditions.
Instrument: You have volunteered to fly a trip for Angle Flight East taking a 55 year old man to RST so he can have some medical tests done at the Mayo Clinic. Pax weighs 160 lbs. Plan the IFR flight based on MVFR weather.
Commercial: Doctor Sweet is a private pilot who owns the same type of airplane as you. She is planning a long weekend in the KXYZ area to do some shopping and see a baseball game with her daughter. Because she has surgeries scheduled all day, she doesn’t feel she will be fit to fly so she hires you. Her daughter weighs 120 lbs and the Dr. weighs 135lbs. She wants to depart your airport 5pm. The weather is forecast to be visual flight rules (VFR) all weekend.
Multi Engine: You have been asked to fly this twin to KXYZ for a repurchase inspection. Prepare a cross country with all the performance planning you've been taught. The current owner is going with and he weighs 160 lbs. (Note: regarding the cross country, we will only be discussing the power settings, speed and fuel flow performance data you would use on a trip like this and nothing else).
Initial CFI: You are the new CFI in Rapid City, SD (RAP). A young man walks into your part 61 flight school wanting to get his private pilot ASEL Rating. He already holds a private pilot glider rating. He signs on as your student. What training requirements will he need to accomplish to take his private pilot check ride? What endorsements are you going to give him?
CFII: I am your Instrument student and today is the day to do my long IFR cross country per 61.65. Walk me through what requirements we must complete and how to plan the first leg of this IFR cross country. The weather is at VFR minimums throughout the trip.
CFI-ME: Today is my first multi engine flight lesson with you. Let's talk about how your take off briefing correlates with the take off performance of a light twin engine airplane.
Positive Rate......Gear Up????
I've been doing a lot of check rides in multi engine and complex airplanes lately. I've noticed a change in fundamentals of when to raise the landing gear. I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject.
It seems that the "new" idea of raising the gear is to wait until "out of usable runway". When I ask why they do this the response has universally been "if I lose an engine or need to abort I can put it back on the runway". I like to challenge some of the ideas that pop up out there to see if they make sense, so here are a few of questions I like to ask.
1. Have you ever been tried or been trained to abort a takeoff shortly after lift off? 90% have said no.
2. If you did abort a takeoff from low altitude, how much forward distance would you use? Will you be able to land and stop on the remaining runway? Think about what you have to do here: 1, recognize a problem, 2, make the decision to abort, 3, lower the nose and reduce the power, 4, lower flaps. 5. Think about airspeed (will it be high, low or just right), 6, Think about sink rate (what will it be). 7, Flare. 8, Brake to a stop.
3. What are the pros and cons to leaving the gear down until "out of usable runway". Pros-If I do have to abort I can land on the gear and prevent damage (provided you're still on the runway). Cons- Increased drag which will reduced reduce the rate of climb 250-300 feet per minute and decrease acceleration or, if the engine quit, rapidly reduce airspeed until the nose is lowered sufficiently.
Back in the so-call "old days" we where taught to raise the gear with a positive rate of climb. Your rate of climb was better, acceleration was increased and If an engine did quit, the airspeed wouldn't bleed off as quickly. I think most would argue having more altitude gives you more options. When you're low to the ground even having an extra 200 feet of altitude will increase your landing areas.
The biggest problem I see with waiting until "out of usable runway" is that the pilot waits too long to raise the gear that there is no way that they will be able to land on the remaining runway. To me I would rather have the additional altitude and less drag hanging out there. If the engine does quit, the insurance company owns the airplane. I can focus on flying the airplane as far into the crash as I can.
Just my 2 cents and I could be wrong!
Instrument and CFI-I Checkrides
One of the latest problems I've seen with Instrument and CFII check rides has been with knowing how to apply Lost Communication procedures to real life situations. Some applicants have been quoting stuff from Google and Youtube. While there is a lot of good information to be found on the internet, some of it can be down right incorrect. For example a quick search in YouTube for lost communication procedures will produce several videos. While several of them are good and worth your time watching, others leave out valuable information and a couple offer bad advice that contradicts FAR 91.185.
Most applicants know the pneumonic AVE-F and MEA which cover 91.185 (c) (1) and (2) but there is also a 3 paragraph. 91.185(c)(3) discusses when to leave a clearance limit and shooting the instrument approach.
I've included the text of 91.185 below. I recommend developing several scenarios where you have lost communication and then work through 91.185 to get yourself safely on the ground.
§ 91.185 IFR operations: Two-way radio communications failure.(a) General. Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, each pilot who has two-way radio communications failure when operating under IFR shall comply with the rules of this section.
(b) VFR conditions. If the failure occurs in VFR conditions, or if VFR conditions are encountered after the failure, each pilot shall continue the flight under VFR and land as soon as practicable.
(c) IFR conditions. If the failure occurs in IFR conditions, or if paragraph (b) of this section cannot be complied with, each pilot shall continue the flight according to the following:
(i) By the route assigned in the last ATC clearance received;
(ii) If being radar vectored, by the direct route from the point of radio failure to the fix, route, or airway specified in the vector clearance;
(iii) In the absence of an assigned route, by the route that ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance; or
(iv) In the absence of an assigned route or a route that ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance, by the route filed in the flight plan.
(2) Altitude. At the highest of the following altitudes or flight levels for the route segment being flown:
(i) The altitude or flight level assigned in the last ATC clearance received;
(ii) The minimum altitude (converted, if appropriate, to minimum flight level as prescribed in § 91.121(c)) for IFR operations; or
(iii) The altitude or flight level ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance.
(3) Leave clearance limit.
(i) When the clearance limit is a fix from which an approach begins, commence descent or descent and approach as close as possible to the expect-further-clearance time if one has been received, or if one has not been received, as close as possible to the estimated time of arrival as calculated from the filed or amended (with ATC) estimated time en route.
(ii) If the clearance limit is not a fix from which an approach begins, leave the clearance limit at the expect-further-clearance time if one has been received, or if none has been received, upon arrival over the clearance limit, and proceed to a fix from which an approach begins and commence descent or descent and approach as close as possible to the estimated time of arrival as calculated from the filed or amended (with ATC) estimated time en route.
Initial CFI notes
Ive done a lot of initial CFI check rides in that last 2 months. The good news is they all did pretty well over all. Some of the weak points......
1. Aircraft systems. (AOO III, Task C)
2. Slips to a landing (AOO VII, Task G)
3. Lazy Eights (AOO IX, Task D)
4. Spin recovery Knowledge (AOO XI, Task G). Yes, I know if you have the endorsement I don't have to have you do spins but it doesn't stop me from asking about spins. The problem has been with knowing the proper spin recovery procedure and why we do it that way.
5. Systems and equipment malfunctions (AOO XIII, Task B)
Private Pilot Check ride notes
Just a few items to note lately....
Preflight: Draining fuel. Several applicants have not been draining from the fuel strainer (aka gasgolater). When asked about it they claim they didn't know about it. Its on the Cessna preflight checklist under NOSE, Item number 2.
Some of the older Cessna airplanes may have a belly drain. It was an option in some of the 1978 models and also available by STC. This is the lowest point in the fuel system. If there is water or crap in the fuel system it can be found here. On the 1997 and newer Cessnas there are at least 13 fuel drains. Oh, please drain plenty of gas, not just a little bit. If the gas is clean you can dump it back into the tank. Otherwise dispose of it per your flight school or airport policy.
I have also noticed people not moving the flight controls during the walk around. Please check the freedom of movement. They should move smoothly. Also listen for any noises. I once found a frozen pulley just by the sound the cable made as it ran over it.
On the Before takeoff checklist and checking the flight controls. Please box the yoke/stick checking all four stops for smooth operation and correct operation (thumbs up, aileron up). Also check the rudder for freedom of movement. People have been doing a good job with the yoke/stick but forget the rudder.
Before takeoff briefing: The briefing is a good idea but I have been noticing that they are getting longer and longer. So Long as I don't think they are really what you would do Question, have you ever actually practiced all those things you say you would do? Im guessing not. In the event of an engine failure at 200 feet are you really going to establish best glide, shut off the fuel selector, pull the mixture, extend the flaps, declare an emergency, turn off the master and mags, crack the door open and tighten the seat belt? Have you even tried doing this?
My VFR takeoff briefing is simple. "I will rotate at XX, climb at XX (Vy). If I have a problem I will abort. In the air I will push the nose down and establish best glide and hit the softest thing in front of me." I am mostly focusing on flying the airplane. If you are doing all that other stuff, your focus will not be on flying the airplane and that's where it should be! Bob Hoover once said..."Fly the airplane as far into the crash as you can."
Podcast worth your time
Aviation News Talk. Max Trescott
Ask the A&Ps. AOPA
Opposing Bases. Mostly discussing ATC and other subjects
Flight Safety Detectives. Three retired NTSB investigators discuss accidents and aviation safety
Clear Approach. Mayo Clinic. Discuss' Aviation medical issues.
Non Aviation related.
The way I heard it. Mike Rowe
All are available on your favorite Podcast player.
Initial CFI notes
I've been doing a bunch of initial CFI check rides lately. While most are doing well I have had a few problem areas.
1. Area of Operations (AOO) III, Task C: Operation of Systems. The Object is to determine the applicant exhibits instructional knowledge of the elements related to the operation of systems, as applicable to the airplane used for the practical test, by describing the following systems:..... (I won't list them here.) The problem has been describing the systems as it relates to the airplane being used. Some applicants have not been describing the system on their airplane but of another. Other applicants have done a rather poor job of actually describing the system in general. I like to combine this task with AOO XIII, Task Systems and equipment Malfunctions. This is a required Task and the PTS requires the applicant to exhibit instructional knowledge of at least five of the equipment malfunctions appropriate to the airplane used for the test. A typical question to cover both Task might be: "Explain the electrical to a student pilot. Explain the indications of an alternator failure and the procedure to follow."
2. AOO XI, Task G Spins. The FAA allows a DPE to accept a log book endorsement attesting the applicants instructional competency in spin entries, spins, and spin recovery. This doesn't prohibits use from asking a few questions about the subject. I usually ask about a situation that could lead to a spin and then ask about the spin recovery procedure. Most CFI applicants and spit out the PARE procedure but several have difficulty discussing the "why" behind each item. For example. Why do we have to bring the power to idea? Why must the ailerons be neutral? My question is, If we can't explain the reasons why we do these things, are we demonstrating instructional competency?
3. AOO XII Basic Instrument Maneuvers. No big issues here except that this AOO is with the applicant flying under the hood or Foggles. Note item number 3 in each Task requires the applicant to demonstrate and simultaneously explain the maneuver solely by reference to instruments from an instructional standpoint.
Do I travel for check rides?
Short answer, Yes! I prefer to give you the "Hometown Advantage". The FAA requires us to have a private, comfortable area to do the oral and internet access to connect to IACRA. There may be an additional fee to cover time and travel expenses but we can talk about that before you schedule.
Where the heck have I been?
Here it is the end of February 2022! Where did time go, heck, where did I go? Well the answer is two fold. First the spring and summer of 2021 got real busy with work, check rides and teaching. I was booking up almost a month in advance. Looking back, I was too busy. Then in September of 2021, I got hit with a dose of reality, I had a hiccup with my medical. I was temporary grounded for 3 months while I dealt with my health and FAA medical. For a guy that, on average, spends over 700 hours/year in the air, that was hard to be grounded. The good news is I got my medical and am back flying, working and doing check rides!