Saturday, September 7, 2013

Single-engine Commercial Pilot Practical Test

I passed my single-engine land commercial checkride!

I was going to do it on monday, but as the examiner and I were checking my hours in my logbook, we found out that my 2 hour 100NM dual night cross-country flight was actually a 99NM flight, so I had to do it again. I scheduled a flight in the Archer with an instructor that night, planned a flight to Apple Valley, off we went to the wild black yonder.
The weather was nice and we completed the flight without major issues. I then scheduled the checkride with the examiner for wednesday.

On that morning I made a shake which stirred my stomach. Maybe I felt like that because of it or because I was nervous. I didn't feel like that on monday, so it was probably the shake.
We then checked my application documents, the hours, and went into the classroom.
The oral began with statements the examiner had to make clear. We then discussed about the assignment he had given me days ago. He asked about CFIT considerations, Part 135 requirements for the pilot, airworthiness of the airplane (we used the Arrow II for it), weather, abnormal scenarios en-route, etc.
We then talked about systems like the constant speed propeller, landing gear, engine, pressurization, oxygen and gas masks. His last question was "What is RVSM?" It was strange since that's normally not a commercial level question, but maybe he wanted to test my knowledge. I answered straight away and he seemed satisfied. We then agreed on meeting again when I finished eating something and finished the exterior inspection of the Arrow.

It was hot and humid in San Diego, so yhe Arrow was a sauna in the entire flight. Even with all the vents open the heat was uncontrolable. I straped myself in, organized the cockpit, I briefed the examiner as if he was a passenger and started the airplane up.
While taxiing I said the takeoff briefing out lound and completed the before takeoff flows and checklist on the run-up area.

He told me to start the flight as if we were going to pick the passengers up at Fallbrook, so we took off (simulating a soft-field takeoff) and flew to Fallbrook.
Just before getting there, I checked my top of descent and started my descent to Fallbrook. I selected the advisory frequency, reported my position and heard that there was a Duchess doing landing practices in there. I joined the traffic pattern, made my before-landing checks and performed a short-field landing. As I taxied out of the runway, I reported clear of it and taxied short of the runway. Fallbrook is a sweet little airport with the runway lying over the terrain below, like an aircraft carrier. I told my examiner that it was my first time there and that I liked it. I did a quick check of the engine, configured the airplane for a short-field takeoff and adviced my departure on the frequency.

After a good short-field takeoff, he told me to fly to Hemet. I climbed and maintained a correct cruise altitude on my way there. As I approached French Valley Airport, he told me to divert to Blackinton so I started circling and measuring the distance, getting the magnetic course, time and fuel consumption. I first started flying to Pauma Valley but then I corrected my heading. I got there within 10 seconds of my estimate and we prepared to do the commercial maneuvers. I made a clearing turn, reported my position, set the airplane up for steep turns, and performed them.
After the steep turns I did the lazy eights, power-on/off and accelerated stalls, and flew my way down simulating an emergency descent. I then climbed to an appropriate altitude for the steep spiral over Blackinton. He told me to select an altitude which will position the airplane at 1500ft AGL when completing the steep spiral. I didn't know how much altitude you lose, but I flew at an altitude that I normally used for steep spirals. As I flew over Blackinton, I then cut the power and entered a steep spiral. As I carefully maintained a constant radius and completed the three turns, I was at 2000ft AGL. He said it was fair, so we proceeded with the eights on pylons. I had a perfect point to do them so I entered downwind and started my first pylon turn to the left. As I completed a full eight, he seemed satisfied and he told me to fly back to Montgomery Field.

On our way there he gave me a simulated engine failure and put the Arrow on a nice final from a field I had selected. He was satisfied and we climbed back up. I then requested a transition through Miramar's airspace and then contacted Montgomery tower. I requested a short approach but was denied since there was a lot of traffic going in and out of the airport. I flew a left downwind to runway 28L and set the airplane up for a soft-field landing.
As I was on short final he told me "there's a truck on the runway" so I applied take-off power, retracted one notch of flaps, retracted the gear with a positive rate of climb, and retracted the flaps as I accelerated in the climb. First time doing a go-around with the Arrow.
The tower controller then asked us if we wanted a short approach and the examiner requested 28R. I joined a right traffic for runway 28R and prepared for the power-off 180° accuracy approach. I cut the power abeam the designated touch-down point and began to glide towards it. I turn to base sooner than appropriate, but I entered a forward slip as I turned final. I touched down within 200ft beyond the touch-down point, so I met the standard.

As I taxied back to the school, shut down and secured the airplane, the examiner helped me cover the airplane and we headed to the office. Everybody started to ask me if I passed or not. I didn't know so I just said "I don't know. Ask him..." As we sat down and everybody went inside he said "well I have good news! He passed, but we have to talk about some things". He then started pointing out the details and going through his notes, what he liked, what needs to be taken care of, and he signed my logbook entry. He then printed my temporary airman certificate and congratulated me.

Coming up next: Beechcraft Duchess flying!

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