Monday, January 24, 2011

Check ride

Saturday morning at 2AM I finished my training in the simulator. Tired. I drove home mostly awake. Once home I emailed my wife a message, "If I am not awake by 9:30 AM please buy me a Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddle meal with Coffee." I don't eat McGriddles often. Haven't had one in over a year. My wife knew why I wanted one. Check ride.

Before every check ride I have had this same meal. It started by accident. I was in a rush for my private pilot check ride and forgot to eat breakfast. I stopped by a McDonalds and saw "McGriddle"...and ordered it. I passed the check ride the first time. Every since then I have eaten the same breakfast....and passed each check ride.

I woke up around 10:30AM to a luke warm breakfast. I quickly ate it, mostly to get it over with. Wasn't very good.

Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing and doing everything but studying. If I didn't know it then I would never know it.

I left home 45 minutes prior to my check ride....even though the simulator is just a 10 minute drive away.

Sitting alone in the briefing room I listened to a podcast on my phone. A man walked in. I asked if he was my Captain/Non-flying pilot. Negative. He was the examiner. Nice.

We had a little small talk and then got down to the oral. The oral was optional as I just had ground school. In fact of the three prior checking events, only my initial had an oral.

I wasn't at my best. I was thinking too hard on fuel and hydraulic system questions. He was looking for an easy answer and I was trying to build the airplane. Finally got through it. I could tell he wasn't digging my knowledge. I was just off. I've never stumbled through an oral like that.

Finally got to the simulator. My non-flying pilot was the Captain that trained me the last few days and I had flown with in the past often.

Started in JFK. Reduced visibility takeoff. Normal takeoff, then given a block of airspace for air work. I briefed each of the three stalls (clean, takeoff and landing) before demonstrating them. They were my best stalls ever. Done.

The flight plan was to fly to DCA. Changed. Now returning to JFK. First was a 2 engine ILS to ILS 4R. Briefed and set up. Once the wheels touched the runway, go around was issued. Away we went. Textbook go around.

On the missed we entered the hold at DPK. Then told to expect a GPS to 22L. I briefed the approach. The approach can start at DPK (nice coincience eh?). Hand flown. Short final a plane pulled onto the runway. Another go around.

Flying around the right engine caught fire. Called for the checklist. Shut it down. Time for a hand flown single engine landing to ILS 4R.

There has been an issue for a while with pilots mucking up the single engine ILS requiring a go around. Most of the time it's because when they go visual at 100 feet they don't see the normal sight picture (single engine is flaps 20 versus flaps 45 for a normal two engine,  thus the deck angle is different) and push the nose forward. They are then too low, get unstable and around they go. I did this my first time in the sim 3 years ago.

Flying single engine isn't a big deal once the plane is settled. A little right rudder (I prefer to use the rudder manually versus trimming the rudder as I have a better feel for the plane) and all is good. I just put in stone that when the thrust goes forward my foot goes forward and vice versa.

When the runway was called in sight I kept my head inside for one additional second then looked outside. I didn't move any controls even though the sight picture wasn't normal. I cut the power at 30 feet and made a firm landing. Heavy brakes and minimal thrust reverser. Done.

Next up....V1 cut.

V1 cuts are one of the most over trained maneuver's. I taught a lot of them while I was an instructor for the ATP RJ course. I am pretty good at them.

Right at V1 the right engine failed. Right rudder pressure and I steered the nose back to center line. I then made sure the plane was stable and slowly rotated. There was no need to rush as I was on a long runway. Nice takeoff. Text book call outs. After the climb the checklist was run and the engine restarted. Nice.

Final approach was the VOR 4 into LGA. This approach was a little tricky as the MDA was 600 but there was a step down from 700. Almost caught me. I left the autopilot on until 500 feet. Landed and thought I was done.

"ATC" AKA the sim check airman stated to roll to the end and line up for another takeoff. I thought I had screwed something up and had he wanted to see me fly a bit more. My Captain was smiling and almost giggling when I began setting up V speeds and running the pre-takeoff checklist.  Lined up, I advanced the thrust levers.

He made the 80 knot call, and then it happened....I lost all my flight instruments. Immediately I pushed the yoke forward and said, "abort, abort, abort!" Done. The last item on my check ride was an aborted takeoff. The Captain knew it, thus his smiling at my worried tone and actions.

The check airman said he really liked my flying and control, but to brush up on my systems knowledge for next time. I missed the takeoff alternate for the first reduced vis takeoff, forgot to call for the climb checklist once and I exited the hold with a bit too much airspeed. That's it. Check ride passed.

I'm legal for another year.


  1. Can you explain "Flow through" agreements to me/us please... Say you work for ABC company that is a owned by XYZ?? I comfused as all heck... Thank you


  2. Congrats on the pass!!

    I flew on your type airplane this morning (just another airline) for the first time in a while and I gotta say it's a great plane... loved the takeoffs and climbs especially. Can't wait to be up front.


  3. Congrats on the successful check ride. Glad the McGriddle worked again :-)

  4. This is probably my favorite post to date. I laugh every time I hear you talk about the McGriddles, mostly because I know what's coming.


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