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Ready for the checkride?

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Active member
Jul 13, 2002
How do you really know when you are ready for a checkride?

My instructor seems to believe if I am close to PTS on the PPL, I'm ready. Sometimes I get the feeling he just beleives in shipping his folks off and if they pass great if they don't just try again.
The vast majority of instructors out there won't sign you off unless he felt you were ready. Still, I suppose there are a couple out there that just don't care all that much.

First thing I'd do is go line by line through the PTS and make sure you're comfortable with everything in it. Doesn't mean you have to be perfect, but you do need to make sure you fall within the guidlines.

Another thing you may want to think about is getting some dual with a different instructor to get his/her opinion about your performance. If he thinks you're ready, it may give you some more confidence.

Good luck!
My instructor knew that I was ready before I knew it.

Those of us who strive for excellence may never feel 100% ready, so the instructor often has to "push us out of the nest" when it's time for us to fly.

Of course, that hasn't stopped me from being over prepared...
One more bit of advice might be to find out the number of students your instructor has signed off and his pass rate.

Good luck.
I Passed Mine Today!

I just got back from passing mine today.

I was a little worried about that too. Although I wasn't the best in doing the maneuvers in the given deviations (+/- 10 degrees, etc.) my instructor signed me off.

I got a little nervous during the oral when the DE hinted that he was going to be tough during the practical. But both the oral and practical turned out very nicely and I passed.

During the practical, he really didn't check the headings and stuff very much. The only trouble I got was when I was starting my x-country and I was flying 110 degrees instead of 95.

All in all, I think your CFI knows what your DE will do. Your CFI may have sent dozens of his students through the same examiner and he might have had the same examiner too. So he knows what you need to be prepared for, and he won't send you out unprepared.
I can remember mine like it was yesterday. A hot August afternoon, a cherokee 140, and an examiner well over six feet tall. A customer at the big and tall shop, he was maybe 280 lbs.

He was sweating from the heat, and I was sweating from the checkride and the rolling moment his bulk added to my maneuvers. What a day.

Congrats on the ride. Now, on to the instrument...
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Checkride readiness

One way to tell if you're getting close to signoff is if your instructor says little or anything to you after he/she asks you to execute maneuvers. If your instructor is still barking at you to hold heading, watch airspeed, altitude, step on the ball, etc., you are not ready.

A good, conscientious instructor will demand virtual perfection. He/she will keep honing you on maneuvers that are barely within standards. I did that (1) because it sets up the precise flying habits and thought processes you'll need to fly advanced aircraft down the road and (2) as a hedge against nervousness during the flight test, to ensure that on that day your performance meets standards. Also, a good instructor will hammer you on the oral and ensure you are prepared. Well-prepared Private applicants usually find that the examiner was not nearly as tough on them as their instructors.

I still remember my Private ride, in Chickasha, Oklahoma, nearly twenty years ago. My instructor knew all the gouge, so I knew what to expect. The examiner only looked briefly at MCA, one stall, and one ground reference maneuver. My soft-field landing was horrendous. In any event, the oral lasted maybe .7 and the flight .9 (he wrote down 1.0 in my logbook). It was much, much easier than I expected.
Are you part 141 or 61? If you are part 141, hopefully, your chief pilot has been doing stage checks.

If you are part 61, go to your chief pilot and explain that you don't feel ready and would like him/her to evaluate you. Don't bad mouth your CFI or say anything about him/her trying to ship out students.

You have a copy of the PTS. If you are so close to the checkride, you can fly solo. Take the plane, go out and do the maneuvers. Can you do them to PTS standards?

Do you know the systems of your airplane?
Do you know the FARs? AIM?

Here is something else you can do. Take a flight plan you've made before, sit with the PTS and go through item by item and see how it applies to your flight and if you can explain it. Start out with how you chose your route, airspace, landmarks, items on the map, weight and balance, day or night? what makes the airplane legal to fly at all? legal to fly in the day? night?

Do you have the Private Pilot Oral Exam guide? Go through each question. If you are getting a lot of it wrong, thats a good sign you are not ready for the oral.

Don't go to a checkride unprepared.
It's always better to be overprepared than under. I like to walk out of checkrides thinking "man, that was easy," instead of walking out thinking that I should have put a little more time into something I felt I was weak at. People seem to have a tendency to study what they're strong at because they feel uncomfortable working with what they need help with.
Unfortunately, we will always be nervous before a checkride because as much as you prepare, you might get stuck with a confrontational examiner and there's nothing you can do but crash and burn.

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