Date: 2004-10-25 01:16:00
Tags: flying
private pilot checkride
This year has been an especially disappointing year for soaring. Between uncooperative weather, my summer vacation to Spain, occasional lack of instructor, a tow plane accident (bent propeller), and other little details, I have been able to do very little flying. My original plan was to get my private pilot license this spring, but I wasn't able to fly at all until may. I had pretty much decided to wait until next year to get my license.

Two weeks ago I flew with Rich and he said that if I wanted, he would sign me off for my checkride. Getting my license wasn't really on my mind at the time, but his saying that that sort of kicked me back into gear and I decided to go for it. Two other students (Scott and Roy) had already taken their written exams and scheduled their checkride with an FAA examiner. So, as soon as I got home that day I hit the books and studied for my written exam (which is 60 multiple choice questions). I took the exam on the 15th and passed.

That same day I called the FAA examiner to schedule the oral and practical portions of the exam. She was already coming out to the glider field for the two other students, so I just scheduled myself in for the same day.

I did my oral exam three days ago on friday evening, which went well. Since officially the oral portion is part of the checkride, there was no indication of pass or fail for that portion.

On friday night, a line of thunderstorms came through and dumped about two inches of rain on the glider field. This wasn't good, because rain makes the field too soft and muddy. Soaring was cancelled on saturday due to low cloud cover (I had hoped to get another practice flight or two in there). The weather forecast was marginally better for sunday, but it was still questionable.

Scott did his checkride first, and passed successfully. While he was doing his followup paperwork, it started to rain! The visibility was dropping too. Roy was next, he decided to go ahead and do his preflight inspection while it was still raining, hoping that it would clear up. Since it was still raining a bit when he was done, I did my preflight inspection immediately after his. Finally the rain let up a bit so it was only barely drizzling, and Roy made the call to go. We looked at the weather radar and it didn't look very promising for another flight. By this time I had resigned to postponing my checkride until another day. Roy disappeared into haze not long after taking off.

Surprisingly, and contrary to the weather radar indications, the low clouds cleared up a bit more and the conditions improved. Roy completed his flights, and I was up next! My flights went very well, except I was a bit too high on landing and exceeded the spot landing target by about 10 feet. On my second flight I was much better though. I was pleased to find that I wasn't nervous at all about having an examiner in the back seat; flying the plane is much more important than worrying about somebody looking over your shoulder.

All three of us were successful and now have a Private Pilot license with a Glider rating. In practical terms, this means that I can fly whenever I want without needing instructor signoff, and I can carry passengers (or a passenger, since gliders with more than two seats are rare).

That was the good news. The bad news is that I got a speeding ticket on the way home, for 41 in a 30 zone. Oops. Fortunately I can just take a driver safety course to dismiss that.
[info]eliset : Drivers Safety Slacking
Some time ago, I had to take a driver's re-ed course, and I chose the online route. I copied and pasted all the course materials into a .doc file, so if you decide to go that route, let me know and I'll email them over to you.

Also, if you use Mozilla, the "You must stay on each page thing and not multitask" doesn't apply - it doesn't recognize when you open up other tabs or look at other applications. :)
[info]ivo : Re: Drivers Safety Slacking

the way that I fooled them was typically open a or page with a long article, and then window-focused on the driving page in the browser. You can still read stuff in unfocused windows.

By the way, greg: CONGRATULATIONS!

Time for a new LJ icon!
For those of you who have no clue what this is about, mduell is making a reference to the "yaw string" used on sailplanes, which is one of the simplest yet most useful instruments. It's just a piece of yarn taped to the canopy. When it's straight, you are flying most efficiently. You can see it in action in this photo:

If the tape comes loose during flight, and the yarn heads to the great sweater in the sky, does the plane crash? :)
No, you just have to coordinate your turns by feel. But since an uncoordinated turn loses more altitude it's a bad idea in a glider.
Hmm. So, in theory, the loss of the yarn could be reason enough to terminate the flight as (relatively) quickly as possible? I guess it just seems odd and interesting (not in a bad way) that with all the technology that goes into designing a glider, it's use could be limited by a piece of yarn (or lack there of). :)
No, that would be the equivalent of terminating a powered flight just because a bug hit the windscreen which would make it less efficient.

(Ok, crappy analogy, but best I could come up with.)
It might be a really big bug! :)
Sorry to hear about the ticket... man are the cops out in force lately, I'm not sure what is going on but I see someone using radar almost every day now. I used to be able to go for weeks without seeing radar... odd.

I started pondering a mapquest kind of web site with the ability to enter addresses or upload GPS waypoints to show where cops have been seen radaring... at the very least it would show points to be wary of (and would be nice to download as danger waypoints into your GPS :)) and at best it might show monthly cycles and times to pinpoint more accurately the locations to be careful of.
Did you see this?
OMG that is so cool! I see tomorrow morning I need to be careful leaving my house and on friday I need to watch Oltorf again... excellent site!
The officer who stopped me was a Williamson County sheriff with a front-facing moving radar unit. He was travelling the opposite direction on the same road, and turned on his lights and did a U-turn. Unfortunately, a map of radar locations wouldn't have helped. :)
Greg Hewgill <>