Passed Private Pilot Checkride 7/1/2008


Well-Known Member
Hey all,

I just wanted to inform everyone that as of yesterday, July 1, 2008, I am officially a licensed private pilot. I have been pursuing this license sporadically for the past five years. I started my training at one flight school in 2003, when I was still active duty in the Air Force. I left active duty in 2004. I tried to finish my training at a flight school near home. I had ran out of money at that point. I flew out of a flying club in 2006 and had only accmulated a few hours there. I left because there were only two part-time CFIs who only taught one day per week there. Another reason was that the club only had one aircraft. At that point, I had logged 42 hours and had never soloed. I felt that I was going nowhere with my flight training.

I always was considering a career in aviation. After researching the current conditions in the industry, I felt that it was not for me. My original plan after leaving the military in 2004 was to get all of my ratings as quickly as possible from a Part 141 school since I have veterans benefits. The VA does not cover flight training for the Private Pilot license, however. I worked a few odd jobs, then got a job working in the Post Office. The Post Office has great pay and great benefits, however, I was bored there. I was considering law enforcement. I found that was not for me. I have always had an interest in aviation. I worked on aircraft as an aircraft electrician in the Air Force. I still do, being in the Air Force Reserve.

I was on active duty orders with my reserve unit for two years. I had saved a lot of money at this point. I am single, never married with no children. After not flying for almost two years, I re-started my training at the American Flyers school in Morristown, NJ (MMU). I heard about their finish-up programs on the internet. I thought that this would be a great time to take a look at that school since the airport is only 30 minutes from where I live. I met with the director of the school in late April. He looked at my logbook at recorded everything down. I got an in-flight evaluation with a CFI a few days later. The CFI said that I did very well in the flight and ground portions on my first day. The CFI and director told me how much more work I needed to get my license. I had just gotten off of active duty orders in April because I got a job in law enforcement. I quickly found out that I did not want to pursue that career, however.

I logged an additional 40 hours with American Flyers throughout the past two months. I finally soloed for the first time during the second week in June. I flew at least three times a week. I have had numerous flights cancelled during those two months due to weather. I completed all of my required solo flights during the second week in June. I had completed my written exam in mid-May, after taking a weekend ground school course. I scored in the 80s on the written. In late June, my CFIs thought I was ready for the checkride.

My checkride was yesterday in the afternoon. I had my simulated cross-country planned the night before. I also made sure that I had all of my supplies and required documents the night before. I arrived at the airport four hours before my show time. I got my weather briefings and did some studying. I was also nervous during that time. My examiner arrived later than scheduled as she flew in on her Bonanza. She is a retired 747 captain. She was very "laid back." We went over the maintenance records for the aircraft, my medical, logbook, and required paperwork. Then came the oral. It was about 30 minutes long. She said that I did very good. I had my operating manual for the Cessna 172, charts, AF/D and FAR/AIM with me during the oral portion. I then received an abbreviated briefing from the FSS. It looked suitable for VFR flying. I preflighted the aircraft about 15 minutes later.

The flight portion of the checkride was uneventful. The examined told me to do a soft-field takeoff out of MMU, which she said was good. About 20 miles out of MMU, she pulled the engine which simulated an engine failure. There were two non-towered airports near me. One was closer than the other. I picked out that airport. She asked me if I can make that airport. I answered yes. I followed my procdures and checklist. I landed a little fast but made the runway. Next came a short-field takeoff, S-turns, steep turns, and stalls (power-off and power-on). All of these manuevers were successful. Then came instrument references ("hood work"). This included normal flight with sole references to instruments, unusual attitude recoveries, and VOR triangulation. These were done successfully. Then back to MMU we went. Before landing, she said that I passed.

After about five years "off and on" with this and four different flight schools, I am happy to say that I am a pilot now. Even though it was expensive, it was worth it. I will never regret spending the money. The staff at American Flyers are very professional and will get the job done. I thank the staff very much. I will be enrolled in the combined instrument commercial program at American Flyers. I have my first instrument lesson tomorrow morning when I will be in the simluator. I hope to enroll in their CFI Academy program afterwards. Now I can utilize my VA benefits.

I apoloigize if I bored anyone with my lengthy post. This is only my third post on this site as I have been extremely busy with my flight training. Good luck to everyone whatever you are doing. Stay focused and keep pursuing your dreams. Listen to your heart. Thank you.

God bless,