This post will share some aspects of my flight training that I am currently struggling to get to grips with. With my Check-ride looming, this may just be my way of easing anxiety/pressure but if it helps someone out there that would be a bonus. I’m starting to feel more confident as a student pilot but there are still some aspects of the ACS (Airman Certification Standards) I need to work more on.
Soft Field Landings - Landings I believe I have finally conquered, after months and months of trying in my C152. The closer it gets to checkride the more me and my instructor have been trying to practice soft field landings. The whole concept behind soft field landings revolves around the fact that there are many unconventional runways located around the world. Some made of snow, dirt, and grass where a conventional ‘landing’ won't suffice. Soft field landings allow the aircraft's wings to support the aircraft weight for as long as it can, so the nose has minimal impact when it touches the ground. I can land the plane softly without slamming it down on the ground but keeping the nose wheel off the ground is tough. I know that practice makes perfect but it requires so much precision that even if I get it right once I fail to keep it consistent.
Diversion - Diversions I feel as if I’m slowly understanding, its just the sheer quickness of obtaining everything in a checkride situation. Fuel burn, new ETA, magnetic heading and distance all need to be calculated to a rough estimate. It's important to note that whilst trying to get to your diversion airport you can conduct a 360 degree turn or fly to a visual checkpoint and take it from there. This will allow you more time to process how you are going to get to your diversion point. It’s definitely been helping me as I don't need to focus various things at once.
Steep Turns - This is the one manoeuvre that I struggle to stay consistent on. Power on/off stalls, emergency descents and slow flight I can execute with a high degree of competence. I’ve looked at all the videos online of how you need to look outside and ‘slice the horizon,’ whilst conducting the maneuver but whilst doing this I lose too much altitude. It’s tough to practice on the simulator too as it isn't the same as the realism experienced in the plane. Some videos show that trim helps whilst conducting the manoeuvre so this might be worth a try when next going up.
The closer it gets to my Check-ride day the more I start demanding perfection. I’ve spoken to many instructors about the private pilot Check-ride and they’ve said that, as long as you stay within the limits of the ACS and operate to a high degree of safety you should be fine. For the oral portion of the Check-ride I’m feeling confident, I’ve used the Oral Exam Guide and have been going through practice questions on the internet.
If you are reading this and are in the same position as me you should talk to other pilots who have had a Check-ride with the same examiner you are taking your exam with. You’ll be able to gain better insight into what the examiner wants and expects. All examiners are different. Confidence is key for the Check-ride, just think of it as showing what you have learned to a passenger. Remember, once your instructor verifies you are ready for the Check-ride he is granting you the license, the examiner is just verifying that your instructor is right. So don’t stress, relax and go get that license!