The first thing I have to say is that this checkride was the best one I've ever had and I totally enjoyed it. It was an awesome flight! Not because it was easy, on the contrary; it was fair, and as the 'checkride ought to be like a skirt' saying goes: short enough to be interesting, but still long enough to cover everything.
It all started on December the 2nd in my introductory flight in the Beechcraft Duchess. The weather was perfect: Few clouds and cold. It was even colder up there. Bill, my instructor, introduced me to slow flight, stalls, steep turns, an emergency descent, a Vmc demostration and how the Duchess handles with a simulated one-engine-inoperative. He even demonstrated a steep turn to both sides with one engine simulated inoperative. Cool stuff! I laugh when I think about it, because some multi-engine instructors tell their studentes to only turn to the side of the operative engine. Mexican flight training is full of satires. I'm sure a book full of flight training satires can be written.
The next four flights I practiced normal takeoffs, slow flight, power-on and -off stalls, accelerated stalls, steep turns, emergency descents, flying with reference to instruments, and some simulated one-engine-inoperative work to get used to the feel of it.
On the next flight, the sixth one, I practiced short-field takeoffs and landings, an engine failure during takeoff before Vmc, a simulated one-engine-inoperative pattern, and Bill demonstrated a simulated one-engine-inoperative ILS approach. The next flight was one of my favourites since we practiced more Vmc demos and I practiced my first real engine shut-down, feathering, securing, and restart. I also practiced my first simulated one-engine-inoperative ILS, and I only had one point deflection the localizer and the glideslope! Tons of fun.
I reviewed all the tasks required by the PTS to get the multi-engine rating on my commercial pilot certificate on the eighth flight. When I reviewed all the tasks in it to get endorsed for the practical test, my instructor didn't like my short-field landings. I floated too much. After talking with other pilots in a hangar party at Montgomery Field, I then demonstrated a good Vmc demos, very good short-field landings, and an engine-out pattern at Gillespie, the next day. Bill then scheduled the ME commercial practical test for monday the 23rd.
On that monday, I woke up at 7:00am, had a good brakefast, rode to the flightschool and met Bill, who signed my ME practical test endorsement and my IACRA application. The examiner arrived to the school and we began by reviewing my papers and the IACRA application. I then showed him the Duchess' maintenance inspection logs to show the airplane was airworthy.
Then, he continued by asking me certification and currency requirements, as well as the can/can't do's with a commercial ME rating. He asked me about certification of multi-engine airplanes, engine-out aerodynamics, systems, performance, abnormal and emergency situations, and we finished by discussing how the plan of action was going to be. I decided to do all the maneuvers west of Carlsbad, over the Pacific Ocean. I then had to do a simulated one-engine-inoperative ILS to Palomar Airport, make a full stop landing, do a pattern at Palomar, and return to Montgomery Field. I also asked the examiner who the pilot in command was going to be and who will fly the airplane in case something abnormal happens. After making everything clear, we decided to meet in a few minutes, when I was ready.
I checked the Duchess, checked the weather, NOTAMs and copied the performance with the present conditions, while eating Thai noodles with chicken.
After putting my bag on the right rear passenger seat, buckling up and organizing my stuff, I started the engines, copied ATIS and started my taxi. After contacting ground, requesting taxi and stopping on the runup of runway 28R, I did the before-takeoff procedures, was cleared for takeoff and did a short-field takeoff.
We flew over the coast at 4500ft and got to my chosen practice area, where I first demonstrated slow flight with a turn to the left and to the right to clear the area.
I then recovered from slow flight and did a power-off stall, followed by a power-on stall. He then asked me to do a Vmc demonstration, which I did After demonstrating steep turns, we climbed to 6500 feet to demonstrate an emergency descent. And then the fun part started.
We flew northeastwards towards Valley Center, passing over Palomar Airport, and he asked me to demonstrate an engine failure, so I cut the mixture of the left engine. Pitch, mixtures, props, throttles, pumps, flaps up, gear up, identify: dead foot, dead engine; verify with throttle, troubleshoot? no, and feather.
I secured the left engine, trimmed the airplane, and then followed the engine air start checklist with unfeathering accumulators. I picked up a bit of speed, brought the propeller lever out of the feather position to the high RPM setting and as the propeller started to rotate, I brought the propeller lever to midrange. The checklist goes more in depth than this, of course, and be assured I went through the checklists and procedures as efficiently and effectively as possible ;)
After giving the engine some time to warm up, we continued normal cruise flight and prepared for the one-engine-inoperative ILS approach into Palomar. Chart in the yoke clip, approach activated in the GPS, all the frequencies tuned in and OBSs set, identification of navaids, and approach briefing performed. I requested SoCal a practice ILS to Palomar and got one vector heading to the localizer. I was cleared for the practice ILS to Palomar and the examiner then simulated a failure of an engine. I was flying right on the localizer and a dot above the glideslope. That made it a nice stabilized descent towards the FAF, where I lowered the landing gear, put 10 degrees of flaps, reviewed the before landing checklist, and flew the ILS to minimums (526 feet MSL). At minimums, I continued visually, put another 10 degrees of flaps and landed on runway 24. I exited on N3 and taxied to runway 24 via N and did a magneto check on 24's runup area.
When cleared for takeoff to do a traffic pattern, I taxied to the runway's centerline, held my brakes, brought the power to 2000RPM, released my brakes, put full power and a few seconds later, the examiner pulled one of the mixtures which made me close both throttles to abort the takeoff. He gave me the engine back and we continued the takeoff. After crossing 400ft above ground level, he simulated an engine failure and I continued on the pattern on one engine. I then approached to runway 24 and on short final he gave me the power back on the simulated failed engine and instructed me to go around. After the go-around, we flew up to 3500ft over the coast, copied Montgomery's ATIS, and contacted the tower over Mount Soledad.
I was instructed to make a left downwind to runway 28L, following a Warrior. After completing the approach checklist, I slowed down and made a wider downwind to maintain a good separation with the Warrior. After being cleared to land as number two, I reduce the power, lowered the landing gear abeam the numbers and put 10 degrees of flaps. I then noticed the gear in transit light was on and no three greens. I quickly checked the circuit breaker, and as assumed, the examiner pulled it out and I pushed it in. Three green! Before landing checklist.
Now on final with flaps full and stabilized, I brought the prop levers to high RPM and made a final GUMPS check. Crossing the threshold with the throttles back to idle, I felt a wheel touch down very soft and after some milliseconds, I touched down with the mains, applied some pressure on the brakes, brought the nosewheel down and exited on taxiway G. After completing the after landing flows and checklist, I contacted ground control and taxied to the school. "Good work, Daniel" said the examiner.
Beautiful flight! Surely one to remember.