Sunday, 5 February 2012

FAA PPL: Complete

After a long long wait it's finally done - the FAA Private Pilot's License (PPL).

When we started flying, back in early June we had a number of goals to complete before concluding our single engine flying which we hope to do by mid-March this year. These included the following:

  • First solo flight
  • JAA check ride (PPL equivalent)
  • FAA PPL check ride
  • JAA CPL level Navigation progress test (the last flight before starting the multi-engine flying)
For those of you who have been following the blog for some time I completed the first two before starting the ATPL ground school stage back in August of 2011.

Since then, due to a number of different factors I have been unable to get the flight completed and have indeed continued the flight training beyond the check ride.

The check ride consists of two parts: an oral on the ground followed by a flight test.

The oral is conducted on the ground and is basically a one on one chat with the examiner. He'll initially checks the paperwork such as the flight plan and calculated performance figures before asking about the conditions along the route, the airspace (it's characteristics and minimas) along the flight path before moving on to more technical questions involving the aircraft (such as the make up of the engine and electrical systems) followed by questions focused around the human factors of flying (hypoxia etc.)

This usually lasts around 45 minutes to an hour.

Dependent on whether the questions are satisfactorily answered, the examiner will then let the student sit the flight test.

Departing from Melbourne airport on Runway 5 we headed on to the downwind to start the navigation flight at my starting point - above an old airfield just south west of the city. Before I reached this check point the examiner diverted me to Valkaria, an airport I have visited many times.

We entered the pattern to complete three landings. One soft field, a short field and finally a normal landing. Having done this we headed out into the practice area to do a number of different maneuvers.

Firstly he had me complete two steep turns - one left and one right. Then I was to fly a heading of 270 degrees and enter slow flight.

Slow flight is applying full flaps and reducing the speed to almost it's minimum before stalling.

Following this I conducted one stall with no power and one stall with full power (raising the nose to a much higher attitude than the former).

It was after this he cut my engine - simulated engine failure. As discussed last week I ran through the procedures and picked a spot to land. Shortly after running through what I would do he seemed satisfied and asked me to level off at 1,000ft to demonstrate a couple of ground reference maneuvers.

These basically involve solely flying with visual reference to the ground - usually a fixed spot (or a cow, as I've previously done) or a road. The idea is to keep equidistant from the point at all times, taking into account the winds to determine whether a steep, medium or shallow turn is needed.

Turns complete, it was time to head back up to a suitable altitude and go 'under the hood.'

Going 'under the hood' means putting on a pair of goggles which are designed to only allow the student to see the instruments within the cockpit with no visual reference from outside of the aircraft.

At this point he had control. He then put the plane into an unusual attitude which I had to recover from. Seeming satisfied he asked me to follow a heading and descend to 1,000ft. At this point I could hear him tuning into the radio the relevant frequency for Melbourne - we were going home.

"Maintain 030 and descend to 500ft."

Moments later: "Take your hood off."

I looked outside of the aircraft and in front, only a couple of miles ahead lay Runway 5, the same strip of tarmac we had taken off from only 54 minutes earlier.

Landing complete we returned to the stand where he duly congratulated me on passing the FAA exam and explained he would complete the relevant paperwork when we were back inside the building.

So, now I await the all important license through the post...the single engine stage of training moved ever closer to it's conclusion.

1 comment: