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Preparing For Check Rides
I recently took a 141 Chief Instructor check ride with the FAA. I have taken numerous check rides in my career, but was again reminded about the apprehension in being tested. My check ride brought back the vivid memories of how nervous I was for my first few check rides and also how it has gotten easier over the years. Being nervous and intimidated for an upcoming check ride is normal because by the time a check ride approaches, a substantial amount of time and money has been invested into training. In addition to the investment, I am passionate about my goals and being within reach of those goals. The emotional investment in such an achievement is high. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help reduce the stress of being tested and having a successful check ride.
1. Know as much as you can about what the practical test will be like. A thorough reading of the Practical Test Standards is essential. The PTS will tell you exactly what the examiner will go over with you in the oral and flight portion of the test. It tells you the limitations and standards on how well you are expected to fly each maneuver. This will help prevent any surprises on test day.
2. In the PTS, use the applicant Practical Test Checklist. There are numerous items that you must have prepared for the day of the check ride. Have all of the items on the provided list completed and in an organized folder days before your check ride is scheduled to take place. Your instructor can help you with this and also give you additional items to have completed, like weight and balance, flight planning, and takeoff and landing performance. The PTS also contains a section called Special Emphasis Areas. The examiner is required to go over this list of safety critical topics so review this ahead of time.
3. Go on a mock check ride with an instructor that you have not flown with before. Treat this session like it is the real thing. Go through the paperwork that you are required to bring. Do a full oral exam prior to completing a full flight exam. This will help give you the confidence that you can handle the situations that will come up during your actual practical test.
4. Treat the flight like any other lesson. The examiners are experienced CFI’s and want to make the flight a learning experience. They have to follow the PTS but they are also looking to make sure that the applicant is a safe and capable pilot.
5. Keep in mind that the worse case scenario is that you will be unsuccessful in your first attempt. This is usually caused by an error during a flight maneuver. It doesn’t mean that you are not a capable pilot. Your flight instructor would not send you for a check ride if you weren’t fully qualified. You can generally retake the portion of the test that didn’t go as planned after very little retraining.
Following these simple steps will help prepare you for the day of your check ride. Combine this with the training and experience that you have received will make for an uneventful and positive check ride.
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