Like many pilots on vacation, I often find myself staring skyward and wishing I could stop at a local FBO and sign out an airplane. Doing so isn’t especially difficult, but it does requires a checkout and enough paperwork to make the endeavor more chore than adventure.
But thanks to OpenAirplane and its Universal Pilot Checkout concept, I can now easily rent from about 100 operators in more than 32 states using little more than my iPad.
In October I passed my private pilot checkride after 18 months of flight training.
I scored well on my written exam, but by the time my instructor signed me off to take the checkride I felt a degree of uncertainty. Part of this was due to high expectations I set for myself, and part of it was based on my knowledge that the examiner I was scheduled to test with had recently failed a number of students for various reasons.
I’m fortunate to have trained with a flight instructor who drives high standards and expectations. In addition, she’s a natural teacher who is able to communicate complex information effectively. Rather than just memorizing fragments of information, my CFI taught the whys and hows of systems, operations and regulations. But the checkride exams –– divided into an oral and a practical flying segment –– filled me with uncertaintity.
I channeled my nervousness into more studying and more flying. The end result paid off. I performed well and was issued my pilot’s license; When my examiner shook my hand and told me the job was well done, I felt like I had let out a breath I had been holding in for weeks.
To help other student-pilots out during this grueling process, I prepared the following guidelines on what to expect on the day of your checkride. I also provide a list of likely questions and topics that will come up during both your oral exam and your practical test.
Ever wonder what student pilots carry in their flight bag? (from left to right): Cessna 172 Pilot’s Operating Handbook; emergency glow sticks; navigation logs; kneeboard containing local airport info, emergency procedures, comm frequencies, notes, etc; San Antonio sectional chart; contact lens rewetting drops; Smith and Wesson red/white LED aviation flashlight; sectional chart clips; pens and pencils; notecards; checkbook; laminated procedures checklists; replacement batteries for headset/flashlight; pilot logbook; Texas Airport and Facilities Directory; E6B flight computer and manual; navigation plotter. Not pictured: Bose A20 aviation headset, flight bag.