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Instrument Rating Checkride PASSED (Very Long)



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 12th 04, 12:13 AM
Alan Pendley
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Default Instrument Rating Checkride PASSED (Very Long)

Instrument Rating Checkride PASSED





After many months of study and training, I flew my Instrument rating
checkride on 10 December 2004, and passed! What a relief! I am now the
proud recipient of a Temporary Airman's Certificate with an Instrument
Airplane rating.



It all started one year ago when I enrolled in an Instrument Rating ground
school at my local junior college. I took the class only with the intention
to learn about Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations. Then, when
returning from a cross-country flight, I had to divert and land at another
airport since my home base was closed to Visual Flight Rules (VFR)
approaches by the persistent Los Angeles marine layer. I made the decision
at that time to get my Instrument Rating.



I began training and flying with the Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI)
that I used for my Private rating, and we were soon flying instrument
approaches at many of the airports in the Los Angeles basin, with me wearing
a hood to prevent me from seeing outside of the airplane. Flying IFR is
much more demanding than VFR - you have to be very precise about maintaining
headings and altitudes, not to mention that you can't see where you are
going! I also logged a number of hours flying the simulators at the
college. During my training, my CFI took a seven-week vacation, which
delayed my progress in obtaining the required minimum of 40 hours of flight
solely by reference to instruments. During his absence, I took and passed
the required FAA written exam.



After I had logged all of the required flight hours, my CFI signed me off,
and I was scheduled for my checkride. The evening before the checkride, I
had a fitful sleep due to the self-induced stress over flying a checkride
(those of you that are pilots know what I mean). Plus, it rained all night,
and it was forecast to continue raining into the next morning. In the
morning, it was still raining with a low ceiling. Since the checkride needs
to be flown in VFR conditions, we had to cancel and reschedule the
checkride. (It is amusing to me that the weather must be VFR to fly an
Instrument checkride even though I am under the hood and can't see out the
windows in the first place. The reason is that the Designated Pilot
Examiner (DPE) who is Instrument rated that administers the checkride is
only a "passenger" for the flight, so we can't fly IFR since I am not
instrument rated until after passing the checkride. Go figure.)



The DPE's schedule was very busy, and so I had to wait for three weeks for
the rescheduled checkride. So another fitful night's sleep before the
checkride, and the weather for the next day again was forecast to be
marginal VFR at best. In the morning, I met the DPE at the airport, and we
started with the "oral exam" that is required to determine my knowledge of
IFR operations. He previously had asked me to plan an IFR flight to a
distant airport, and we began discussing the flight plan including weather
reports and forecasts. I told him that I would not fly that trip on that
day, since there were reported and forecast low ceilings and a low freezing
level, which invites icing. There was also a forecast of strong turbulence
and a strong headwind. Also, the distant airport was forecast have weather
less than minimums for ceiling and visibility, which required selection of
an alternate airport with forecast weather above minimums. He then asked me
questions about what instruments are required for IFR flight operations,
quizzed me about failed communication procedures, the Federal Aviation
Regulations, instrument flight charts, and aircraft systems. He kept
digging until he found areas for which I did not have a complete knowledge
or understanding, and then had me look up the information. After the
two-hour Inquisition, he allowed that I had passed the oral exam, and that
it was time to fly the checkride, which is documented in a FAA Practical
Test Standard (PTS). The Instrument PTS requires, among other things,
flying a holding pattern at a fix, executing recovery from "unusual flight
attitudes" and three different types of instrument approaches. Being
anxious to end the torture and to get my rating, I agreed to fly.



The weather was just barely VFR conditions, and we planned to go up to see
if we could fly any approaches. We took off and climbed to 3,500 feet,
dodging around and under scattered clouds along the way. As we were making
our way to the practice area, the DPE was getting stressed and stated at
least twice: "I hope we can get back to the airport" under VFR conditions.
In the practice area, I put on the hood and he covered the attitude
indicator and directional gyro as if the vacuum pump that powers them had
failed, and put the airplane in an unusual attitude, the first of which was
a full power descending graveyard spiral, and then told me to recover.
Using the seat of my pants and the rudimentary turn coordinator instrument,
I recovered to level flight. Then another unusual attitude, with the nose
high in a turn and approaching a stall/spin, and again I recovered.



He then looked over to a nearby airport, and saw that it might be possible
to fly the Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach and remain clear of the
clouds. Scattered clouds obscured other nearby airports, so he said we
would fly just this one approach, and the other two at a later date. With
me still under the hood, I called Air Traffic Control (ATC) and got a
clearance to fly the ILS. I was not fully prepared to fly this approach,
and felt rushed by the DPE. As we intersected the final approach course and
were descending down the glide path, I was handed off late by ATC to the
tower. Making matters worse, I did not have the tower frequency tuned and
on standby, and in an attempt to simultaneously tune the frequency and fly
the ILS, I exceeded the course deviation tolerance permitted by the PTS.
With FAA checkrides, as soon as you do something that is "disqualifying,"
the DPE immediately announces that you have failed the checkride. In other
words, no news is good news. Well, I got the news that I had busted the
checkride, and we dodged clouds back to my home airport in barely VFR
conditions, ending the checkride with a "Notice of Disapproval of
Application" which is otherwise known as a "pink slip." At that point, I
had passed everything but flying a hold and the three approaches.



In order to re-fly the checkride, I had to log additional flight training
with my CFI, and get signed off again by him for the checkride. I flew
three more times with him, got signed off, and rescheduled the checkride,
with another three weeks lost. On the appointed day, I met the DPE at the
airport, and the conditions were not VFR until an hour after we were
scheduled to fly. There were no clouds, but the visibility was barely 3
miles in haze, which is the minimum required for VFR. The examiner had
mentioned that he had to be at another airport in two hours time, and I
sensed that he was not anxious to fly. Not wanting to get rushed into
another bust, I elected not to fly. So, another three weeks goes by until
the DPE was available.



On the appointed day, the weather in LA was unseasonably warm (80 degrees
F), and the ceiling and visibility were unlimited, making it perfect for
flying. After yet another fitful night's sleep, I got to the airport early
to remove the tie down chains and to do the preflight inspection of the
airplane, and to get prepared for the checkride. I left the left wheel
chock in place to keep the airplane from moving, since the ramp was not
completely level. I made a mental note to be sure to remove the chock
before boarding the airplane. The examiner showed up, and so it was now
time to fly the three approaches and a hold. He told me that I was going to
fly a published hold at a fix, and approaches at two nearby airports, and a
final approach back to home base.



We got strapped into the cockpit, started the engine, and I called ground
control for clearance to taxi to the end of the runway. I then applied
power to begin taxiing, and the airplane did not move. I looked outside,
and saw that I had neglected to remove the wheel chock! I thought, "this
is not good, I may get busted even before I get off the ground." The DPE
told me he would hold the brakes while I got unstrapped, opened the door
with the engine running, and removed the chock. How embarrassing, but no
news is good news. I jokingly stated that I bet that had never happened
before, and the DPE said in his 13,500 hours in the air, this was the first
time ever (I knew it was likely to have happened before, and the DPE made
light of the situation).



We launched into a beautiful clear sky with visibility at least 50 miles,
and shortly after getting airborne, I put on the hood and flew out to the
practice area for the holding procedure. I had practiced flying this hold
both in the air and on the simulator, and so I confidently flew to the fix
and turned to execute a teardrop entry. Over the fix, I turned to the
outbound heading, and the instructor asked what I was going to do next. I
told him I was going to fly outbound for one minute, and then turn to the
inbound heading. He said, "I've seen all I need to see on this hold" even
though I hadn't even flown one complete circuit. Okay, one hold down and
three approaches to go. No news is good news.



I called ATC and got clearance to fly the ILS. This time, I had ample time
to get the radios set up and the tower frequency on standby. ATC vectored
us around, and I intersected the final approach course. In a couple of
instances, I was on the ragged edge of exceeding the tolerance allowed for
altitude and heading, but recovered in time. The DPE also helped me as if
he were an instructor, so I sensed that he really wanted me to pass this
time. We flew the approach to 250 feet above the ground, and I raised the
hood to see the runway right in front of me! No news is good news. We then
got clearance to fly a different type of approach, known as a VOR approach,
at another nearby airport. Along the way, I again was flirting with
exceeding the tolerances (10 degrees off heading or 100 feet off altitude),
particularly when trying to tune radios and fly at the same time. No news
is good news. We got vectored to the final approach fix, which requires a
30-degree turn to final over the fix. As I was executing the turn and
beginning my descent, the DPE again covered the attitude indicator and
directional gyro as if they had failed (part of the PTS), so I had to fly
this approach with limited resources. The magnetic compass swings around
unreliably when making a turn, but I staggered to the missed approach point
just short of the runway. No news is good news.



I then executed the missed approach, called ATC and got clearance to fly
back to home base, using the localizer approach, and still under the hood.
We were given vectors to fly, and I intercepted the final approach course.
Again, I flirted once with exceeding the tolerances, but recovered in time.
We began our descent at the final approach fix, and were handed off to the
tower. We were cleared to land with one airplane ahead of us. About two
miles from and 800 feet above the runway, the DPE said he couldn't see the
landing traffic, and told me to raise the hood to help him look for it.
What a relief that I didn't have to fly this approach down to minimums, and
I made a normal smooth landing. No news is good news.



After landing, I taxied back to the hangar, expecting to hear from the DPE
that I had passed the checkride. I don't know if he forgot to announce it,
or if he was intentionally extending the torture. No news is good news. I
parked the airplane, shut down the engine, and he jokingly busted my chops
by asking me if I wanted him to install the wheel chocks. We walked back
into the hangar, sat down and he started pulling paperwork out of his
briefcase. I saw that he was preparing my Temporary Airperson's
Certificate, but he still had not announced that I had passed, but I knew at
that point that it was a fait accompli. He then handed me the certificate
and said "congratulations." What a relief!



In summary, getting my Instrument Rating was much more challenging than
getting my Private rating. After I got my Private rating (which has been
said to be a "license to learn"), I learned a lot. I expect that to be the
case with my Instrument rating as well. Wouldn't you know it, the forecast
is to be severe clear in LA for at least the next week, so I will have to
wait for an opportunity to fly IFR in the clouds when the marine layer
returns. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to being able to see outside
the airplane in the interim; after all, that is what is all about for me in
the first place!



-Alan Pendley








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  #2  
Old December 12th 04, 12:35 AM
Chris
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Default


"Alan Pendley" wrote in message
...
Instrument Rating Checkride PASSED


Well done Alan, the checkride can be stressful as I too well know when I got
a notice of continuance due to a presidential TFR that popped up the night
before the checkride.

All was well in the end but boy did I curse a bit.....

Chris


  #3  
Old December 12th 04, 12:49 AM
Wizard of Draws
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Default

On 12/11/04 7:13 PM, in article
, "Alan Pendley"
wrote:


In summary, getting my Instrument Rating was much more challenging than
getting my Private rating. After I got my Private rating (which has been
said to be a "license to learn"), I learned a lot. I expect that to be the
case with my Instrument rating as well. Wouldn't you know it, the forecast
is to be severe clear in LA for at least the next week, so I will have to
wait for an opportunity to fly IFR in the clouds when the marine layer
returns. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to being able to see outside
the airplane in the interim; after all, that is what is all about for me in
the first place!



-Alan Pendley


That's good news Alan! Congratulations and welcome to the Airman's IFR
Retest Club too! We're always looking for new members.
Fly safe!
--
Jeff 'The Wizard of Draws' Bucchino
Cartoons with a Touch of Magic
http://www.wizardofdraws.com
http://www.cartoonclipart.com

The Wizard's 2004 Christmas newsletter
http://www.wizardofdraws.com/main/xmas04.html

  #4  
Old December 12th 04, 12:50 AM
G. Sylvester
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Default

In the
morning, it was still raining with a low ceiling. Since the checkride needs
to be flown in VFR conditions, we had to cancel and reschedule the
checkride.


I'm fairly certain you can take the checkride in IMC. Of course it is
also up to the DPE. I'm sure you need VMC for the 'bad attitude' parts
but otherwise why not shoot approaches in IMC. If he doesn't
feel confident to pass you under the hood, do you think he's going to
sign you off solo?

Gerald
  #5  
Old December 12th 04, 12:52 AM
G. Sylvester
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Default

congrats on passing. I'm coming to final part of my traniing and I
can't wait.

In the
morning, it was still raining with a low ceiling. Since the

checkride needs
to be flown in VFR conditions, we had to cancel and reschedule the
checkride.


I'm fairly certain you can take the checkride in IMC. Of course it is
also up to the DPE. I'm sure you need VMC for the 'bad attitude' parts
but otherwise why not shoot approaches in IMC. If he doesn't
feel confident to pass you under the hood, do you think he's going to
sign you off solo?

Gerald
  #6  
Old December 12th 04, 09:22 AM
Chris
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Default


"G. Sylvester" wrote in message
. com...
congrats on passing. I'm coming to final part of my traniing and I can't
wait.

In the
morning, it was still raining with a low ceiling. Since the

checkride needs
to be flown in VFR conditions, we had to cancel and reschedule the
checkride.


I'm fairly certain you can take the checkride in IMC. Of course it is
also up to the DPE. I'm sure you need VMC for the 'bad attitude' parts
but otherwise why not shoot approaches in IMC. If he doesn't
feel confident to pass you under the hood, do you think he's going to
sign you off solo?


The pilot on test is PIC and legally can only fly in VMC. The DPE is
basically an intelligent passenger


  #7  
Old December 12th 04, 12:30 PM
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Default

On Sun, 12 Dec 2004 09:22:53 -0000, "Chris" wrote:


"G. Sylvester" wrote in message
.com...
congrats on passing. I'm coming to final part of my traniing and I can't
wait.

In the
morning, it was still raining with a low ceiling. Since the

checkride needs
to be flown in VFR conditions, we had to cancel and reschedule the
checkride.


I'm fairly certain you can take the checkride in IMC. Of course it is
also up to the DPE. I'm sure you need VMC for the 'bad attitude' parts
but otherwise why not shoot approaches in IMC. If he doesn't
feel confident to pass you under the hood, do you think he's going to
sign you off solo?


The pilot on test is PIC and legally can only fly in VMC. The DPE is
basically an intelligent passenger

Are you suggesting that the DPE could not be PIC if he and the
applicant agreed for him to be?
  #8  
Old December 12th 04, 02:24 PM
Chris
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Default


wrote in message
...
On Sun, 12 Dec 2004 09:22:53 -0000, "Chris" wrote:


"G. Sylvester" wrote in message
y.com...
congrats on passing. I'm coming to final part of my traniing and I
can't
wait.

In the
morning, it was still raining with a low ceiling. Since the
checkride needs
to be flown in VFR conditions, we had to cancel and reschedule the
checkride.

I'm fairly certain you can take the checkride in IMC. Of course it is
also up to the DPE. I'm sure you need VMC for the 'bad attitude' parts
but otherwise why not shoot approaches in IMC. If he doesn't
feel confident to pass you under the hood, do you think he's going to
sign you off solo?


The pilot on test is PIC and legally can only fly in VMC. The DPE is
basically an intelligent passenger

Are you suggesting that the DPE could not be PIC if he and the
applicant agreed for him to be?


No I am not suggesting that but the practice is not recommended by the FAA
as per the examiners handbook;

9. STATUS OF EXAMINERS DURING PRACTICAL TESTS. An examiner conducts a
practical test to observe and evaluate an applicant's ability to perform the
procedures and maneuvers required for the certificate or rating sought. The
examiner is not PIC of the aircraft during a practical test unless acting in
that capacity by prior arrangement with the applicant or other PIC of the
flight.
The FAA does not recommend that an examiner agree to act as PIC of a flight
during a practical test.

( http://av-info.faa.gov/data/staticdocs/8710-3c.pdf ) page 54


That does suggest that flying in IMC is not what should happen on an
instrument checkride.


  #9  
Old December 12th 04, 03:19 PM
Mick Ruthven
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I took my instrument rating checkride (with a real FAA guy) with a lot of
the flight in IMC.

"G. Sylvester" wrote in message
...
In the
morning, it was still raining with a low ceiling. Since the checkride

needs
to be flown in VFR conditions, we had to cancel and reschedule the
checkride.


I'm fairly certain you can take the checkride in IMC. Of course it is
also up to the DPE. I'm sure you need VMC for the 'bad attitude' parts
but otherwise why not shoot approaches in IMC. If he doesn't
feel confident to pass you under the hood, do you think he's going to
sign you off solo?

Gerald



  #10  
Old December 12th 04, 06:29 PM
C Kingsbury
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Posts: n/a
Default


"Chris" wrote in message
...

The FAA does not recommend that an examiner agree to act as PIC of a

flight
during a practical test.

( http://av-info.faa.gov/data/staticdocs/8710-3c.pdf ) page 54

That does suggest that flying in IMC is not what should happen on an
instrument checkride.


To me it suggests that the FAA wants to limit its liability in the event of
an accident on a checkride.

-cwk.


 




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