Private Single Engine add on


Well-Known Member
Okay, I’m going to set a bad precedent by posting a longwinded account of a short check ride. Think of it as debriefing therapy.

I know there are a number of twin engine pilot mills that do all training after solo in twins so the student ends up with AMEL but no ASEL. I f you don’t return to the program immediately for the rest of your ratings, you’re left with a ticket that is very expensive to use. So it’s back to school for a single engine add-on. In the PTS, you’ll find that in theory the check ride could end in about half an hour without ever leaving the pattern. Of course, as an examiner, would you sign off on someone you never even got out of the pattern with? There’s a nice little statement in the front of the PTS booklet that allows a more reasonable test.
“At the discretion of the examiner, an evaluation of the applicant’s competence in the remaining AREAS OF OPERATION and TASKs may be conducted.”
In other words, the examiner can make it a thorough initial check ride if desired.

So what was mine like? The oral consisted of a weight and balance, T/O and landing performance for a high and hot airport. Elevation and Temperature were chosen so only very simple interpolating was required in the C152’s performance charts. There was some discussion about what inspections are needed for this flight (100hr: No, Pitot/static test: no, Transponder Test: Yes). Took a look at the Airframe log book.
The actual ride was done at a low and cold airport <200’ MSL and about 8°C. Both the examiner and I have considerable years of accumulated body padding, so I told him he’d have to leave behind his hypothetical 20 lb bag unless we drain a gallon and a half of fuel from the wings. No problem. He brought himself and his David Clamps.

It was a weekday morning and the normally extremely popular airport was deserted and the air was perfectly smooth. In fact the only bumps felt were from hitting our wake at the end of the steep turns. So during the taxi there was a discussion of which runway to use. Information not to be found in the AFD, but in the airport policies dictated by the city is the preferred calm wind runway. So we taxied past the runway that points directly at the practice area and did a short field take off in some other direction. When we finally got to 2,000 ft, the examiner got bored with the climb and we started maneuvers.

Slow flight: nothing remarkable here except that I got so far on the back side of the power curve that full power and no carb heat was not enough to maintain altitude. I had to lower the nose and gain some airspeed.

Steep turns: With a wrinkle thrown in. Make the first one a 720° instead of a 360°. Boy was he right when he said a single 360 is easy but everything goes pear shaped the second time around. After smashing perfectly through our wake, I got fixated on the instruments and spend a hellacious 30 seconds chasing the horizon line and air speed needle. I probably busted both altitude and airspeed on that second revolution but he let me off. With a 3,500 ft overcast and numerous banks of thin fog all around there were no landmarks and a very faint horizon visible. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Power off stall: nothing remarkable here. He didn’t ask for a turning stall so I did it straight ahead. While recovering he said, go ahead and do a
Power on stall: with a turn. Again, nothing remarkable. In fact it was probably the best one I’ve done.
Power off stall: What, again? This time with power pulled back to idle. This was another thing I’ve never done. He just wanted to see if I actively pushed the nose down in recovery. 152s are so stable that you don’t have to take much action to recover from most untoward happenings, but other planes are not so forgiving. This maneuver immediately turned into a
Forced landing drill: With only about 800 ft between us and the ground, this was a pretty short maneuver. Even with the closest field very near, the turn to final would have been well under 500 ft so I just explained away the rest of it as I climbed out.

Turns around a point: Threw that one in since we were already down low. Not much challenge in the calm air even though I’d never done it before in a single. Just set the bank angle and watch the earth go around. He said that’s enough after ¾ of the turn.

That was it for maneuvers. Back to the airport for landings and pattern work. Actually had to climb back up to pattern altitude on the way back. Still not a single other plane in sight. Silence on the radio, and silky smooth air.

The soft field landing: Very nice. Not the perfect one where you have to ask if we’re down yet, but plenty good enough, and on the centerline. Rolled right into a
Soft field T/O: It seemed to take forever to get the mains off the pavement and it was the longest I’ve ever been in ground effect.

Short field landing: The ugliest one ever. Failed to keep on top of the airspeed control through most of the approach and had to add quite a bit of power at the obstacle to make it to the TD zone. Got several feet off the centerline dealing with the power issue at the end. Only pretended to apply brakes because the shimmy damper on the 152 is approximately worthless.

That was it. I managed to taxi back to the ramp and park without destroying too many other aircraft and buildings. Shut down and pulled out the check list for the last time and the examiner said I could relax now.

I told him afterward that I hope to learn as much from each future flight as I did in the past hour. He replied that he doesn’t give any instruction on check rides. Yeah, right. He said I fly the plane very nicely. The only criticism, and a very valid one at that, is that I tend to forget the right rudder when other things are going on. On this plane the ball sits slightly right of center when on the ground, so it’s too easy to pretend you’re coordinated when the ball is on the right.

I paid my bill, added another .9 hours of PIC to my log book, shook hands all around, and scurried down the road to decompress in front of a video game.