With apologizes to the late Joan Rivers, Can we talk!
Recently I've noticed some new weak areas in private pilot practical tests. They are NOT isolated to one flight school or one geographical area so I thought I'd bring them up so everyone was aware.
Takeoff: Pilots are flying speeds without reference to pitch attitude. One pilot was10 knots above Vy on a take off. He noticed the error and then pitched up abruptly and the airspeed bled off to Vy minus 15 knots. This was followed by an abrupt pitch down. This pilot was fixated on the airspeed indicator and was simply chasing airspeed. Another pilot was climbing after takeoff at Vy which was 78 kts. He experienced a simulated engine failure during the climb and instead of lowering the nose he raised it. Airspeed bled off very quickly and the stall warning went off. If you experience an failure on the takeoff climb you need to lower the nose to establish best glide!
Another issue is poor coordination. Simply not using right rudder during climb. One tail tell sign is the pilot trying to keep the airplane going straight during climb by using aileron and no right rudder.
Stalls: Pilot are slow to release back pressure and are too quick to add power during stall recovery Example: One applicant was doing a power off stall. He was raising the nose and just as the stall broke, he added full power. Of course the airplane yawed and rolled left and got worse as he turned the yoke to the left. It wasn't until I said "push the nose down" did he regain control of the aircraft. Correct procedure: as the stall breaks (the nose starts to drop on its own), release the back pressure, let the nose fall on its own. Then added power and right rudder to keep the wings level. Now you can start raising the flaps. The first notch or 10 degrees can be raised immediately, no need to wait for airspeed. As you approach Vx and/or Vy, clean up the airplane and climb back to your starting altitude. Remember to practice power on and off stalls with and without turns. I can't count the number of times that pilots have told me they've never done a power off turning stall.
Private pilot Instrument skills: The PTS is very liberal in the tolerances but lately I've a few applicants demonstrate very poor instrument skills. One applicant put the airplane in a spiral dive. At least he was humerus about it. I asked him to look outside, when he did he said, "Well this aint good". At the private pilot level these instrument skills are for getting out of a deadly situation, Inadvertent IMC. Inadvertent IMC is the number one killer of VFR pilots (for both airplane and helicopter). I run all private pilot applicant threw an inadvertent IMC situation. Most do well but a few have never been taught how to get out of IMC. So please make sure you have good instrument skill and have a plan for getting out of IMC. Plus it might be a good idea to make sure you use the correct recovery technique for unusual attitudes.
Emergency descents: Use the technique in the airplane POH. If the POH doesn't have one, use one of the two suggested in the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook. Don't just make stuff up!
Landings: I'm seeing some really bad landings lately. Lots of pilots are flaring way too high and the airplane stops flying and drops in. Some pilots are driving the airplane on the runway and end up porpoising on the nose wheel. Some of these problems are caused by pilots not looking in the correct area. Some are chasing airspeed and others are forcing the airplane on to the runway. One of my techniques is to ask the pilot to critique the landing. Some pilots can pick out their errors and correct them others can not. Mistakes can happen on a check ride but as long as the pilot and spot his errors and correct for them, they'll do ok. If the pilot continually makes the same mistakes, there is an issue. Sometime a little more instruction is needed. By the way, what ever happened to doing a go-around if thinks don't feel right? Go-arounds show good judgement.
G0-Arounds: We've seen a few tragic go-around accidents in the area. Either the go-around was executed to late and/or executed incorrectly. Please follow the procedure in your POH and practice them frequently with your instructor.
As my old guitar instructor would say, "Go home and practice"