The time has come to take the CFII check ride. More about that in a minute.
As you may know I did an accelerated course over 4 days to prepare for this. I had also studied for and taken the Instrument Instructor written exam the day before starting the class and scored a 94%.
I felt good about the class and we were using the G1000 FTD after class to become familiar with the button pushing or “knobology” as I call it. We logged almost 5 hours over the 4 days learning how to load flight plans and fly the plane while loading approaches and using the GFC700 autopilot.
The following weekend we actually flew the plane with the G1000 and the practice was time well spent as all that we learned in the “simulator” transferred to use in the plane. On Saturday and Sunday we got some actual IMC during our flight and we were filing IFR to be in the system as the weather was marginal VFR down low and IMC at 1500′.
Norcal gave us vectors to the IAF and we had plenty of time to get the GPS programmed and ready to fly the approach. All went well and I felt prepared to take the check ride.
However life tends to throw us a curve ball when we least expect it. The ground portion of the check ride went well and after some question and answering on IFR flying we were ready to go fly.
I pre-filed an IFR flight plan and we picked up our clearance at the runup area. After two quick handoffs we were told we were being vectored for a visual approach. We needed to do the ILS but ATC told us the ILS was not authorized. This never came up in my briefing an hour earlier.
And so began my falling behind the aircraft. The DPE settled on a VOR/DME approach to a nearby airport and I had very little time to reprogram the GPS to get that setup.
The lesson I learned was even with a DPE on board I was the PIC and I needed to act as such. I was letting the DPE help with the radio work to get what we needed from ATC but in so doing I gave up some control. I fell further behind the aircraft but managed to fly the approach to acceptable standards.
However we needed to fly an ILS and rather than go to another nearby airport to do so I allowed the flight to end as I wasn’t flying up to the standards I knew I was capable of achieving.
it was very disappointing to realize that I wasn’t going to pass that day but I also know that there are times we need to acknowledge our limitations and abide by them. I have been listening to Rod Machado’s audio books and one thing that stands out regarding pilots that have accidents is that while we may regard them as good pilots that they weren’t as good as they wanted to be on THAT day. So it was proved to me on my check ride day, I wasn’t the skilled pilot I knew I could be on that day.
To say it was humbling is an understatement. To be able to fly, teach, talk to the DPE and ATC was a little overwhelming to say the least. And for me that is the downside of the accelerated course. There was so little time to put the polish on these finer points. Our instructor is a very seasoned and great instructor, but we have only so much time to absorb the information and be ready to teach it.
I will finish up next week as I have just 2 approaches, a hold and unusual attitudes to do. As always on a check ride the pilot is the PIC and needs to act as such. Take control of it and don’t let the situation or the DPE et you into a corner that you don’t want to be in. ATC is a resource and needs to be managed as well. It’s a delicate dance at times but we must realize that ATC is safe and secure on the ground while we are in motion.
It’s okay to ask for a delay vector as needed to assure a safe outcome to our flight.
In the end I got a discontinuance and will finish up soon, stay tuned for the final update next week….