Help me prepare for my private pilot checkride!
February 18, 2010 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Help me prepare for my private pilot checkride! What should I prepare, what tips do you have, any good resources...?

I have 45 hours in, and I need 3 more to finish all my requirements. It's getting to the point where I've only got a few more weeks to go (I fly quite frequently), and I'm starting to think about my checkride.
I was hoping someone could elaborate on their experience- useful tips, things to study, or provide links to sites that have this information.

posted by pyrom to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't forget that you'll be PIC. The DE is a passenger. If he/she asks you to do something you think is not prudent, don't do it and say why. That's not a bad policy in general, to say out loud why you're doing something.

Don't be nervous. If you weren't ready, your CFI wouldn't have signed you off. Relax.
posted by phliar at 5:07 PM on February 18, 2010

Oh, you haven't been signed off yet. In that case, it's the same old story: practice, practice, practice. You should be flying at least twice a week.

How many CFIs have you worked with? If only one or two, fly with a couple more. Ask one of them what you should work on. With fresh eyes he or she might see something your regular CFI didn't.
posted by phliar at 5:12 PM on February 18, 2010

Be prepared to estimate your ground speed using ground reference points, the sectional chart, and the E6B that you just so happen to have within reach.
posted by dws at 5:27 PM on February 18, 2010

  • For maneuvers, remember these steps: clear the airspace, configure the plane, execute, and recover. Don't forget a clearing turn before every maneuver.
  • Don't be afraid to go around (like if you're coming up long on the short-field landing).
  • Know the PTS well (PDF link).
  • Start off on the right foot by providing a pre-flight briefing (SAFE mnemonic: Seats & Seatbelts; Air vents (and instruct not touch anything else without positive exchange of controls); Fire (where is the extinguisher, and no smoking); Exit (how to))
  • Likewise, brief the examiner on the abort plan (what you will do with engine failture before rotation, after rotation with runway remaining to land, after rotation without runway remaining to land)

  • It will help if you can talk to people who've used the same examiner to see what their checkrides were like.
    posted by exogenous at 5:33 PM on February 18, 2010

    Congratulations! I'm working towards my checkride too, and have been saving links to things that seemed useful prep. Here's two: 3 ways to make your checkride easier and A License to Learn.
    posted by Nelson at 5:50 PM on February 18, 2010

    (1) The practical test standards (PTS) book is your friend. You either meet the 'pass' criteria for each maneuver or you don't, so, when practicing, ensure you're practicing with that standard in mind. refer to the PTS before and after each lesson. The PTS also lists all areas of aeronautical knowledge you'll be tested on in the oral portion of the ride, so review those areas. Also review those areas in your written test results that you were weak in, and freshen up in those areas.

    (2) Your instructor should be prepping you on what to expect. Your instructor may introduce you to the designated examiner, or may tell you about what the DE is like.

    (3) Consider having another CFI, or better yet, a senior or chief instructor, give you a mock checkride. For many, the biggest hurdle is nervousness/lack of confidence stemming from flying with someone unfamiliar who is an authority, and in this area, practice helps.

    (4) If your DE is anything like the ones I used to work with, he'll want you to take him through the airplane's logbooks to substantiate that the aircraft is current on its annual and 100-hour inspections, where the real weight and balance for your specific aircraft is, the radio station license, etc. Depending on how your flight school manages maintenance, if your A&P is in-house, see if you can get a brief sitdown with him about how they log required maintenance and what he thinks about a private pilot's role and responsibilities when it comes to verifying airworthiness. You'll learn a lot :)

    (5) Do your next several lessons in the aircraft you expect to use in your practical exam. Are you flying to the DE's location, or will he be at your location? If you're going to him, arrive early. Have all your flight stuff put together the night before. Get a good night's sleep, yadda yadda.

    (6) If you're asked a question, and you don't know the answer, don't try to BS him, admit what you don't know, and look up the information. You are expected to use all the tools and resources at your disposal, that includes looking up a reg or two if you're not sure.

    (7) Last but not lease, if you get the sense you failed one maneuver, don't give up and try not to lose your shit. He may ask you to demonstrate the maneuver again (a second chance), or he may have you go on to the next maneuver. If you bust the sixth out of twelve maneuvers, get the seventh one right, and the eighth etc... so that, if you do have to come back for a retest, you're only having to retest on the failed items. Other items may also be retested at the DE's discretion, but he'll generally limit a re-test to the necessary maneuvers.

    I sent many students through the process, and have a 100% pass rate, mostly because I don't send them unless I think they're ready, and also, as you may have guessed, I'm a preparation nazi. Pretty much every student I had came back to tell me the checkride wasn't as bad as they feared it would be. That said, stuff happens, and even the best pilot can bust a ride on an 'off day', so don't take it personally if it happens to you, just study, practice, and go on back for another shot. Good luck!
    posted by 2xplor at 7:11 PM on February 18, 2010

    Talk out loud. Everything you do, describe it. Don't assume the DE knows what you're doing/thinking. This is especially true with short field and soft field take offs.

    Also, practice doing the diversion you'll get during the cross country. Practice doing the calculations, balancing the kneeboard, working the E6B and keeping the airplane level and at proper air speed.

    Have fun! There's nothing in the world like having your ticket!
    posted by Jandasmo at 7:54 PM on February 18, 2010

    It will help if you can talk to people who've used the same examiner to see what their checkrides were like.

    Seconding this. All the DEs I've flown with tended to use similar checkride "scripts". Quizzing a few other pilots who flew with them first gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect. Good luck!
    posted by tss at 11:01 PM on February 18, 2010

    Excellent suggestions so far. Some other things to think about:

    -Bring all of your cockpit tools with you to the oral exam (kneeboard, E6-B, etc.). Your kneeboard is the kind that has all the handy facts on it, right? Like emergency transponder codes and what the light gun signals mean? When the DE quizzes you and you don't know an answer, saying, "Well, I'm not too sure about that, BUT it's right here on this kneeboard that I carry on every flight..." you can then look at your kneeboard and give him the answer. This is totally acceptable.
    -Read your checklists out loud, every step. In fact, do this every time you go in the airplane.
    -Preflight the aircraft before your exam so you're not scrambling to find another airplane if yours isn't flyable. Then preflight it again in front of the examiner if he asks you to.

    The two checkrides I've had were very, very different. For my private, the DE grilled me for about an hour on theory. During the flight, if I did something wrong he would suggest a better way of doing it and let me try again.

    My instrument ride - the DE talked at me for an hour about how he was a United pilot with 10,000 hours and he was so much more experienced than me that I'd better listen up, sonny! And then told me all the terrible ways I could die if I ever attempted single-pilot IFR without an autopilot. Then he almost failed me in the flight because I didn't immediately start briefing the approach when the tower cleared us for it (we were something like 15 miles out, just having taken off from my home airport).
    posted by backseatpilot at 11:49 PM on February 18, 2010

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