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Today, September, 27 2006, one of the biggest dreams of my life has come true - I'm a pilot!

I was pressing hard to get done this week as I had no other chance. I'm leaving Seattle area end of week. The FAA checkride initially scheduled to 8AM Wednesday was rescheduled to 1PM which added to my time pressure.

It started with paperwork and then ~1.5 hours of oral part. All usual stuff you'd expect: Federal Aviation Regulations, pilot responsibilities and limitations, legalities, airworthiness, currency. Then charts, airspaces, weather and airplane systems. Hands-on tasks on density altitude and performance calculations. Then review of cross country flight planning (PAE - 27W - EAT) and explaining my decisions. With this part completed flawlessly we headed to the airplane where all I've learned to date would be put to practice.

Started with short-field take-off and departed eastbound on planned course. Nailed first two checkpoints and was asked to stop climbing (I was supposed to fly at 3500 ft first legs before the mountains). It messed up my speed calculations a bit as I leveled off earlier at 3000 per his request. Then interesting stuff begins once we past Monroe. He asks if I know where the Sultan is (my next checkpoint). Sure, I say, we're heading right there and it's at 12 o'clock ahead of us. He is like, lets see... and we keep flying. Now, I've never flown past Monroe to the East so this area is new to me. Sultan is really small village and the land area lacks prominent landmarks. When he asks me again after several minutes, I tell him we're already over Sultan. Ok, he says, there should be an airport here, find it. Ok, I look at the chart, here it is, unpaved strip on the NE side of the Sultan. I look out of the left window, right window and don't see the damn airport. Well, he says, were are we then? May be it's even a wrong city. Here I'm getting that unpleasant feeling of uncertainty (it's never a good thing to get lost on your checkride). I do the circle, and pretty sure I'm where I am supposed to be. I don't see the damn airport! He asks again - where it is? I look out, check the chart and answer with confidence - It's right under our belly I just can't recognize it. He smiles and says - Then, lower the wing. I bank and he points out something like a little driveway on the back yard of the house surrounded by trees on both sides (yes, very narrow driveway alley). And it's right under our belly! I was right but who'd think that this thing is called Sky Harbor airport! :) So, good job, he says, and let's divert to Arlington. No problemo, I draw the line on the chart, figure out new heading, turn, mark the time and calculate distance and fuel. Then the same story - prove me that you flying to _that_ airport. I had to pick out all possible landmarks and indications to back up my course. No instruments here - pure visual pilotage, he's big on it and I had fun doing that too. Then steep turns, slow flight, power-off and power-on stalls, turns around a point and ...oops, engine “failure”. I set best glide, did checklists and flew to the nice field with base to final turn and brought flaps in. Go around at 400 ft, climbed and performed turns around a point. Then flight under the hood, unusual attitudes recovery and then lost operations. I dialed PAE VOR, turned to it but the needle was so shaky so I told him we're really near the airport. He took hood off and here we go - Paine Field is 8 miles in front of us.

Went back to the airport and did soft field landing which was not pretty at all but he was satisfied. Then short field with the 50ft tree that grows out of numbers. I did nice approach, nailed speeds but when leveling off  ballooned badly! Shame, shame, I performed a go-around, but was a little slow with bringing nose down so the examiner expressed a serious concern. That's were I started sweating twice while feet going cold. “That's it, I failed” - was dominating thought in my head. First, so-so landing, then sloppy go-around, what's next? Next, he said, try it one more time. I set good approach, cleared the obstacle with 25 ft margin, and planted the plane firm again. Well, for short field, that's how it's supposed to be, right? I said to him humbly: Sir, I don't know why, but me does not want to flare much today :). You're all right, he said, you passed, you're a safe pilot. Oh my God, what a feeling!

Almost 4 months of training at about 55 hours of flying time was pretty challenging to share with overtime work and family with small kids. I'm grateful to my wife she understands what it means to me. I'm worn out but the reward is great. It's like standing on top of the mountain after steep brisk climb - tired and happy at the same time. Now the real learning begins. :)

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 11:32 PM Aviation | Back to top


Comments on this post: I got my wings!

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
Paul,
Congratulations!!!!! See, I told you that you would do fine. :-) Enjoy the "license to learn." Sounds like you made fewer mistakes than I did. :-)

Congratulations again,

-Wade H.
Left by Wade H. on Sep 28, 2006 6:03 AM

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
Pashka, Hi.
Congratulations on conquering the skies!!!
So, when are you buying a sailboat??? :O)
Lexa
Left by Lexa on Sep 28, 2006 7:00 AM

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
Thanks, Wade!
>Sounds like you made fewer mistakes than I did.

But they looked big to me :)
Left by Paul on Sep 28, 2006 7:04 PM

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
>So, when are you buying a sailboat??? :O)

Already looking 8-)
Left by Paul on Sep 28, 2006 8:47 PM

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
Congratulation sir!

Good luck and happy flying :-)

cheers,

ET
Left by ET on Sep 29, 2006 6:37 AM

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
It's amazing!!!
Your dream come true!
Congratulations!!!
Now you can fly to siberia! Why not? We are waiting...;o))
Left by Valera Fomin on Sep 29, 2006 10:42 AM

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
The mistakes may seem big to you, but like he said, "You are a safe pilot...", which is the biggest thing they look for. If you made the same mistakes and flew in an unsafe manner, you would have gotten a "pink license" instead of a "white license" :-)

They don't call it a "license to learn" for nothing. :-)

-Wade H.
Left by Wade H. on Sep 29, 2006 2:31 PM

# re: I got my wings!
Requesting Gravatar...
The title tricked me for a bit. I thought you really grew wings (yes, its possible)! Do you want to: http://poll.pollcode.com/ogmam
Left by Whitewing on Aug 16, 2013 1:06 PM

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