Final Dual Test Prep

After our last flight, I spoke with Gene and was able to schedule my checkride for July 4th, but I got a call from the examiner this morning and found out that Burlington would be closed. We could either meet at another airport north of Burlington, in which case I would be planning a different cross-country trip, or we could reschedule. I really wanted to get done with it, so I spoke with Gene about it before our flight. He wasn’t too crazy about the idea of going to a different airport because of the added stress of the unknown, but he left it up to me. I decided to wait until after today’s lesson before making the call.

Already stressed about the upcoming checkride, and now even more because of the scheduling, I wasn’t able to concentrate during our flight. Gene had us go straight out over the lake to test the VOR at Raleigh. I’m not sure why, now that I think about it. I wasn’t really paying close attention, but we spent some time fiddling with that; it wasn’t picking up the VOR at all. Hmmm…

After that, on to some stalls. I fumbled around, forgetting the procedure to get set up for the stalls. I couldn’t believe it; neither could Gene. After that, on to some more steep turn practice. I was all over the place, unable to maintain altitude, losing well over the practical test standards required to pass. Not good and I was feeling progressively worse about the whole thing.

We followed that with some instrument work, and I actually managed to do okay. I’ve never had any problems with that. We did an unusual attitude recovery; nose high and I forgot to add full power. Sigh.

Gene started looking around and I knew what was coming. Throttle back and time for a simulated emergency. This procedure was really frustrating for me when we first started working on them last year, but it didn’t take too long to get a good feel for how the plane handles without power; how far it will go, how fast it will descend, how much turning I can do, etc., so I feel quite comfortable with them now.

I looked all around, but didn’t see any fields that I thought were good enough. Everything was too small. Then I spotted a nice large field about a mile away, so I headed for it. Gene asked me what I was doing; said he thought I’d use one of the fields below. I told him I thought they were all too short and I was going for that long one over there. It turned out to be a grass airstrip next to a road. In fact, it was the same grass strip that we used for one of our first lessons on power out emergencies. Gene said that was fine, but it’s better to circle around instead of trying to go for something far away. I said “ok”, but I thought to myself… “What?! We’re less than a mile away from an actual grass runway, with another 1500 feet in altitude to drop, and he’s suggesting I circle around a small field instead?” I didn’t get it. As we approached the grass field, I thought we had enough time to do a circle, but I gathered that Gene would’ve had me descend faster, earlier. It was too late for that, so I circled to the left and we came around lined up for the runway. Not only were we in a great position, but we were still high enough for me to need a little forward slip to get us down. I went around and I continued to be stunned. Further frustrated, I said “Let’s go home.”, so we did.

My final landing was a short field landing. Gene have me a point to land on or beyond, but it registered in my mind as a point to land and stop before, so I did. Well, at least I tried. Surprised at what I’d done, Gene explained what he meant. On the test, I would be given a point at which I could not land before and must land within 200 feet after. Ok, but not once (that I recall) did we practice short field landings with a focus on the actual touchdown point. One more for the stress bucket.

After 1.2 hours, I have 73.3 total hours, but feel like I have ten. Not a good day at all. In spite of the mess, Gene signed me off to take the checkride, but I decided to reschedule and use the time I have the plane tomorrow to do some solo test prep and see if things get any better. I sure hope so.