Monday, April 25, 2005

Instrument Checkride

Ok, it's finally time to talk about the Instrument Checkride I took last week.

I got up at my usual time (5:45) Wednesday morning to go to my 7:30 flight time (this is of course the night after the Creative Date and I hadn't stayed up late to study because I was too tired from the date). On the way to the airport I explained to my instructor that I was nervous enough about the checkride that I would rather spend all morning preparing for it than start our flying for Commercial maneuvers (noting that I was too distracted with the instrument to focus on commercial stuff anyway) and that I had run out of cross-country planning sheets, so I didn't have my cross-country planned (I was required to plan a one-way flight to someplace over 250nm away so the examiner could test my planning ability). My instructor agreed, so as soon as we got to the airport I got to work planning a flight to Akron, OH.

As soon as I finished that and spent some time talking over the checkride with the instructor, I left for the AvTech library to spend the rest of the morning studying for the Oral (as I've said, I wasn't really concerned about the flight part). When I got to the library, I stopped to talk to my boss for a few minutes and to ask her to pray for me (she's a believer), and she offered to help in her own way. You see, traditionally she buys a Subway sandwich for each of her student workers during finals week, so she offered to give me mine early because she knew I wasn't going to get a chance to have lunch before the 1:00pm checkride. The way the logistics worked out was for me to ride with her to Subway about 9:45 (she was leaving to head to a meeting), pick up my sandwich, and walk back (it's just short of a mile). I brought my Instrument Oral Exam Guide along so that I could study as I walked back, and ended up studying for 15 minutes while waiting for Subway to open at 10. Then I walked back and crammed on the Guide and on some review sheets my instructor gave me until 12.

At about 12:15 I walked over to Hanger Six to check the maintenance logs on the aircraft and preflight the plane before we started. Then the test began... (Cue the ominous background music)

We started out with the Oral and spent about 45 minutes sitting in his office (the examiner was Larry Gross) with him interrogating me on the minutiae of instrument flying. I got a good amount of it correct, but also made some mistakes by either simply forgetting some detail (Alternate minimums for a field with a precision approach are 600 and 2, not 600 and 1 like I said) or when I had a question on something I hadn't studied (in the Oral Exam guide, the part that talks about Low-Altitude Enroute Charts uses the legend from the charts published by the government, and I was carrying a chart published by Jeppson. Apparently there are a few differences in how they depict things). Overall my performance on the Oral was, as Larry put it during the debriefing at the end, "a little weak" (meaning it was acceptable but not a strong performance). Then we walked out to the airplane and started the flight portion of the test...

At this point I was feeling ok because, to my knowledge, the worst was over and I was surviving thus far. My first mistake was that I didn't program anything into the GPS units before we started the flight, simply because I blanked on how best to set it up for the clearance he had given me. We took off and started flying east to pick up an airway in the direction of Indy, then proceeded to hold at OCKEL (an intersection on the airway between here and Indy). My hold was pretty good, even partial panel, and my unusual attitude recoveries went well.

Then I was cleared for the GPS 28 approach to runway 28 partial panel (my Attitude Indicator and HSI were covered by post-it notes to simulate a failure). I made the mistake of not reporting to "ATC" (Larry pretending to be air traffic control) when we were leaving the hold and when I started my descent for the approach (two required reports that I just blanked on). The approach went well, even though I was fighting some very strange wind gusts from the north on final approach (almost straight west). There was a thunderstorm about 12 miles north moving in causing the weird winds.

We did the missed approach up to Boiler VOR to do the VOR-A approach full panel. The approach went well and we missed out to EARL (the local NDB) for a practice ILS 10 approach. During the missed we hit an updraft caused by the storm, so we were climbing at over 500 feet per minute with a level attitude for over 10 seconds (I announced we had hit an updraft and explained why I believe it was such so that he wouldn't dock points for "poor altitude control"). The ILS was the weakest part of my flight, because I continued having problems flying perpendicularly through the gusting winds and keeping the needles centered, especially when we got down close to the runway. As you may or may not know, and ILS approach is like flying into an ice cream cone, the closer you get to the end the narrower the course is, requiring more precision on your flying. Towards the end, it is only about 10 or 20 feet wide to be on course, small enough that a gust of wind can knock you off. If you get far enough off course that one of the guide needles (horizontal or vertical) goes all the way to one side, you have to abort the approach and try again. Right around 200 feet about DA (Decision Altitude, where you look up from the instruments and; if you can see the runway, you land, if you can't, you go missed approach), I was centered one second, and the next I had full deflection on my glideslope. I told him I had full deflection and would have to go missed (thinking that I probably had failed right there), and he took the airplane to bring it around and set up for landing on runway 28 (which he had me do).

After we had landed (a little hard), we taxied onto the ramp and I shut down the engine. He had been perfectly silent during the taxi-back, so I was beginning to think that I had failed with that ILS approach. Once the engine was off he said "Well, you did ok." Because I didn't know what he meant by 'ok' and his tone of voice was very neutral, I asked "Is 'ok' good or will I see you another day?" His response? "Well, I hope that you'll see me another day, but you passed." We went into his office and did the debriefing where he told me everything I did wrong (with my instructor standing right there listening), and that was that. I don't know what my exact grade is yet (I haven't been out to Hanger 6 to see it), but I think I only passed just barely considering my weak oral and the problems on the flight that I mentioned.

Now I get to spend the next week and 4 flights preparing for my Commercial Checkride, which promises to be even harder because the Oral covers more material and the flight portion is on maneuvers I haven't done since last fall, and then in a different airplane. That and I have to study for my Flight Instructor FAA Written Exam, practice Nolan's ARTCC (Air Route Traffic Control Simulator, part of the lab for my ATC class), and study for my other exams, all in the next two weeks. Basically, for a lot of people around here thing start winding down for the last couple of weeks of the semester. For me, things get busier and busier.

Link Time!

A friend was recently commenting on my using some term that she'd never heard in actual speech before, and being something of a linguistics buff she decide to try to identify what dialect of American English I speak. Thus, when I found this little quiz online, I decided to post it here for your viewing pleasure. (Actually, this is a good topic for the suggested comments today, click on the link below, take the quiz, and post your results)

Your Linguistic Profile:

75% General American English

15% Upper Midwestern

5% Midwestern

5% Yankee

0% Dixie

Many of you have heard me saying that I'm planning on buying a Tablet PC this summer to bring to school next year (which will greatly help my note-taking in class next fall). I think I've finally found a model I would be happy with (I've been researching them since last fall and they just announced this one). I haven't decided exactly how I would configure it, but those of you who are computer buffs will enjoy looking at the specs on Toshiba's product page (for those of you who aren't as into computer specs, but like pictures, you can see more pictures of the unit by clicking on the Product Tour link on the right side of the page):

Like to know what's popular on Google these days?

Or, ever wonder how exactly Google works so well and almost always finds what you're looking for?


At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Rebecca said...

Interesting quiz indeed.

55% General American English
20% Yankee
15% Dixie
10% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

There were several questions on there I couldn't answer very well. I am generally a confused person. Having lived in California and England, having my dad from Illinois and my mom from Arizona doesn't help much. So basically, right off I know there's a problem, because I know there is a distinction between a cellar and a basement. A basement is sealed, generally dry, and may be used for hobbies such as woodworking. A cellar is usually not sealed, so may have humidity problems, and is mostly used for storing things, like canned goods.

I may say either "kitty corner" or diagonal, but I think there is a distinction here too. Diagonal is more of a linear direction, while kitty corner is more like a grid... like how the dorm room across the hall and one door to my left (that is if someone actually lived there) would be kitty corner from mine.

I would say either "tennis shoes" or "sneakers". And as my bosses and coworkers discovered over the summer, I can really use them to sneak... surprised my boss (inadvertently I'll admit) a few times that way...

I say "y'all" occasionally, but not as often as many people will. And I won't use it for one person. It is convenient sometimes though.

"Pajamas" is different every time I say it, I think - same with "route". So my results may or may not be accurate.

They should put a question on there "sofa" or "couch"... but I would be confused on that too unless they had an "either" option.

So good luck with your dead week. And surviving it.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

65% General American English
15% Upper Midwestern
10% Yankee
5% Dixie
5% Midwestern

This thing is screwed up, There is no way that i speak more yankee than dixie. Good luck with your finals and dead week.

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous amy c. said...

Your Linguistic Profile:
80% General American English
15% Yankee
5% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

This thing is so wrong... I've never lived anywhere BUT Midwestern/Upper Midwestern area... How did I develope any other accent but those? But yet it tells me I have a 5% Dixie accent? Weird, wrong, etc.


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