Monday, June 27, 2022

Flying IFR - Not Exactly The Checkride

So this morning, bright and early, I got up and did all the calculations -- by hand --for a pretend route of flight from KPTK to KMDW via the CCOBB2 Departure and PANGG3 Arrival. That's the preferred route from Pontiac to Chicago Midway per the Chart Supplement, so I could easily defend that choice of route.

Why did I do that route?  Because I was assigned that as the test route for my checkride and today was the day.

That took about a bit over an hour and a half to get all the wind correction, heading adjustment, speed, flight time and fuel burn calculations in for the 2 pages worth of the Nav Log for the flight .  I also calculated time and fuel burn to my selected alternate, KDPA. An eraser and choice language was used quite a bit.

I also drew the route in pencil on the paper Low-Altitude IFR map.

Note that in the real world, you do this in Foreflight or another flight planner application in about a minute, and it will be more accurate.

I had previously done the weight and balance by hand this weekend in preparation for the "flight" and had that all written out and ready to go. Again Foreflight makes that a lot quicker.

I also ran and pulled a full flight brief and downloaded that as well.

Then I had a couple eggs for breakfast and headed to the airport and checked in at DCT and set myself up in the test room at 9.  The test begins at 10, but DCT wants you there an hour early.

Looked like a nice sunny day but with a fair bit of wind. 

Unfortunately DCT didn't have the airplane logbook all tabbed out for the test so that was a major PITA finding everything, especially as it didn't arrive before 10 am.  Very fun and off to a great start.

So I got logged into IACRA, produced all my documentation proving who I was, and that I was qualified to take the IFR checkride and the oral portion of the checkride then began. 

I correctly answered question on what I need to be able to legally fly, what the airplane needs to legally fly, weather, lots of IFR related questions, IFR chart questions, how an altimeter works (it has aneroid wafers inside which is the key answer there) etc.

We went over my flight plan and he ran it and the numbers worked, so I passed my flight planning.

But, I still had a couple brain fades and got stumped on some questions, including this one:

"What is the white D in the black square in the airport diagram at the bottom of the approach plate?"  

I actually knew the answer to this question back in January, but it apparently left my mind in the meantime and never registered that it was gone and needed to be re-memorized. So with all attempts at mind data retrieval failing, I had concede that I had to look it up. 

Yep the D at the top of this diagram:

I proceeded to tell him everything else that was on that entire approach plate not, just this small diagram that was a part of it, but could not remember for the life of me what the fargin' D was for

That D means that declared runway lengths are available to look up for the airport.   So now you know too.  This will clearly make your life better.

As a GA pilot I will never actually use nor need to use declared runway lengths and you don't need them to fly GA IFR, so this is all part of the mind-f___k that is the oral portion of a checkride. They keep asking you stuff until you can't answer it, regardless of its actual utility to show you that you don't know it all. 

I already know rather well that I don't know it all, thank you very much. The stuff I don't know can and does fill volumes.

So, after that bit of demoralization, I then learned I had passed the oral.

I then went out to preflight the plane, and noticed the winds were getting pretty gusty, as I was doing so got a text from my instructor whoi was up flying with another instrument student that the wind gusts were pretty bad, it was very bouncy and turbulent along the route and hard to maintain altitude, and that I should probably discontinue the test at this point.

After all, if turbulence drops or lifts you beyond the 100 foot above, zero below the set altitude you still fail regardles that it was turbulence rather than you that did it.

So what to do?  I had the feeling of get this checkride-over-with-already- warring with the feeling do -not-screw-this up  and I chatted with Mr. B for some advise.  After all, when in doubt, consult a friend.

I also called Flight Service to see what they had and they reported rather gusty at ground level and no sign of it letting up.

I did end up deciding to discontinue as it would have been dumb to go up on a checkride with conditions stacked against me.

Unfortunately, the examiner's next availability is not until July 15, even as tomorrow's weather is forecast to be perfect.  So I will be hoping that July 15 offers better weather. 

So, yet again, this is not over. It's going to take yet more time, require more lessons to maintain proficiency, and as usual take much longer than I would like which seems to be a recurring pattern with my flying instruction.

There's 60 days available in a discontinuance and after that I have to do the whole thing again and pay a whole 'nother full fee for it, so I'm hoping I get an opening and decent weather at the same time in the next 60 days, which is gonna be hard as he's booked solid.

There may be an end to this, but it sure ain't here yet.


juvat said...

Are these examiners FAA? They sure sound like typical bureaucrats these days. Asking questions til you screw one up. Inferiority complex anyone?

In all honesty, I'm not a fan of government at almost any level right now. After our recent city council election, the winner had to withdraw a week or so later for newly discovered health reasons. Rather than install the runner up, they appointed someone who hadn't even run for the office. The runner up had lost by very few votes, so had some measure of public support. But giving the office to someone who didn't even run?


juvat said...

Sorry, forgot my manners.

Very Best of Luck on your check ride.

Old NFO said...

Sigh... Hang in there!

Aaron said...

juvat: No not an FAA, but a Designated Pilot Examiner following FAA guidelines for testing.

That does sound rather ridiculous, and sounds like they knew what result they wanted.

Thanks for the good luck.

Of course, today, unlike yesterday, the conditions would be just great for a checkride, dammit.