Hello everyone. Remember me? It's been a while since I've posted, but there's a semi-good reason behind it. Since my last post in August, I've earned my Private Pilot's License! The experience was tense yet exciting. After getting my license, I took some time off of flying to focus on school and to pay off the rest of my training. Although it was hard to sustain life without aviation for a few months, I made it through. Before I explain how the big day went, I'll explain the month or so leading up to it.
I spent almost all of August preparing for my checkride. At the beginning of the month, Dana and I called Mr. Bob Clarke and scheduled the test for September 5th; my 17th birthday. Having a concrete date set, helped me keep my eye on the prize. My first prep flight was August 21 and consisted of the usual takeoff and landing exercises; short and soft field takeoffs and landings. I started taking a more aggressive practice schedule about a week before my checkride. I met with Dana for three days straight to try and clean things up. We worked on everything in order to sharpen my skills. Takeoffs, landings, steep turns, stalls, ground-reference-maneuvers; you name it, we practiced it. In those three days, I ended up flying 3.2 hours with 15 landings! The Monday through Friday before my checkride, I took out time at school and at night to study up on the ground material and airplane procedures. I focused on the regulations and document requirements a tad more since I had struggled with them in the past. The day before the checkride, I took to the practice area one more time for some "cramming". This also gave me time to ensure all of the paperwork was correct and in the aircraft. Needless to say, sleep did not come easy that Friday night.
Since my checkride was scheduled for 9:00 AM Saturday morning, I arrived at the airport at 7:00. This gave me time to fill out all of the paperwork and do more studying (The online application for a pilot's license won't let you submit the information until your 17th birthday). Once the paperwork was e-filed, Dana shook my hand and gave me some words of encouragement. There was no turning back now. Bob arrived at the airport at 9:00 sharp. At first I was extremely nervous and shaking, but after he introduced himself and we sat down at simply talked, I started to relax. He was an older man but very nice. We began the oral portion of the test about half an hour after his arrival. I knew all of the topics fairly well except the emergency procedures. I had troubles remembering what to immediately do in scenarios like engine fires and electrical malfunctions. Bob helped me work through figuring out what to do using logic though. At that point I thought I failed, but I had done better than I thought. To start the flying portion, Bob asked me to show him that the aircraft was airworthy. Thanks to my preparation the night before, I had no problem showing him the proper papers and logbook entries. We started the flying portion by flying a point around a turn. With approximately three quarters of the turn completed, Bob pulled my throttle back and announce that that "engine had failed". He instructed me to pick a spot to land and set up for an emergency landing. I picked a field that I thought was soy beans and headed towards it. Bob inquired about my selection before I realized it was actually corn. Pretty dumb mistake. We continued the checkride by doing the usual steep turns and stalls. After a half-hour or so, we headed back to set up a short field landing. I entered the pattern right on cue, at a 45 degree angle on the downwind leg, and started slowing down, way down. Bob noticed before me and had told me that we needed to go around right away. That was probably the fastest go around I have ever done. After climbing back into the pattern, I had such a pit in my stomach. I was certain I failed. I tried again at the short field landing and did a mediocre job. After we landed, I pulled off of the runway so Bob could tell me I need improvement. He mentioned things I could work on...right after he congratulated me on passing my checkride! I was shocked beyond belief! It was such a relief knowing that my hard work had finally paid off. I fueled the plane then met Bob back inside to fill out the paperwork. After another hour of paperwork, I had my temporary pilot's license in hand! It was such an amazing feeling and I will never forget that day!
I decided to take a look back in the log book for the sake of numbers. Including my checkride, it took me 137 landings and 43.7 total hours of flight time. Further breaking down my flight time, 12.8 hours were cross country, 40.6 were in the day time, 3.1 were at night, and 3.1 hours were simulated instrument practice. I had 31.5 hours of dual instruction and 12.2 hours as pilot in command (solo). As far as cost is concerned, I spent $3,961.18 on aircraft rental, $945 on flight instruction, $100 on my written test, $350 on my checkride, and $597.02 on miscellaneous supplies totaling to painful $5,953.20 (give or take $100-200)! I'll tell you though, the knowledge, skills, and privilege I've earned are worth every penny. I'd like to thank everyone for their constant support throughout my journey. All of you have helped me out tremendously and I am very thankful for it. Thanks for reading!