I’m a Private Pilot!

I just passed my private pilot checkride with Peggy. She signed off on it and printed me out a temporary certificate. Woo!

We started a little late, but the gave me some time to get everything setup and load up on Hershey’s kisses. The oral exam lasted about 1 hour at the end of which she gave me the hold short question – which side of the hold short line do you hold short on. The solid line side!

So we went flying. The plan was to fly the first part of a trip planned to Williamsburg, VA. I planned it to transition through Morristown’s airspace. When we got off of Caldwell, I called up Morristown and they said, “677DM, stay clear of the Class Delta.” Doh! I pulled out my chart and tried to figure how far their airspace goes. I also took a look at the GPS distance to make sure we were more than four miles from the airport. We got around it and were back on course.

Around Somerset Airport, Peggy pulled the engine on me. I flew over the field and planned a left traffic pattern. By the time we got there, we were at pattern altitude. I turn downwind, then base, then turning final realized I was way too low. I kept it too wide. So, I did a go-around. I am not happy about that, especially cause we had practiced many forced landings during training.

Peggy gave me another shot at it. This time I kept it too close and was slipping it to the max to try to get down to the runway. We would have touched down beyond midfield, and it wasn’t that long of a runway. So, I hit the power and we went on to the other maneuvers. I was not too happy about that either.

The other maneuvers went fantastically, though. We did some S-turns, then headed up North. We did some slow flight, power on and off stalls, and a steep turn. She then put me under the hood and had me do a climb, decent, and some turns. After that, some unusual attitudes. Those all worked out and her comments on the checklist were “Very Good.”

She had me pinpoint our location while I was still under the hood. We happened to be over Boonton Reservoir. From there, Caldwell’s easy to spot.

On downwind, Peggy said she’ll give me another shot at the forced landing and she pulled my power. So I called up to request a short approach and started emergency procedures. I ended up slipping a lot and touching down long, but we made it. That was the first time I had to get off at Gulf after landing on 22.

And that’s all! It was a great day and now I’m a pilot. Thanks to all of the instructors that had flown with me and all the private pilots that had taken me flying with them.

My blog is now the “Adventures of a Private Pilot.” I imagine there will be more pictures from now on.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW
Duration: 1.3

Final Stage Check

Ooo.. getting really close now. I went out with Kyle, another instructor, so he can evaluate all these fun maneuvers. Beforehand, though, he gave me an oral exam on all this flying stuff.

What kind of engine does the plane have? What instruments can you do without? What planes can’t you fly? Tell me about Hypoxia. What does all this stuff mean on the chart? etc…

Then we went flying. We basically went through all the same stuff in the review flights. A simulated emergency at Somerset, maneuvers, navigation, and landings.

On our way back, Caldwell was really busy. Combine that with a trainee controller and you get “677DM, stay clear of the Class Delta.” Wonderful. So, we circled around out to the Northwest. There were about 4 planes in the pattern and we heard two others besides us coming in.

Eventually, we prompted the controller and he gave us a runway assignment.

Kyle signed off on the flight, so next up is the big one: the FAA practical exam.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW – SMQ -
Duration: 1.5

Hudson River Tour

This was a treat! I flew the Hudson River Corridor with Kate, Valerie, and Tanya, from Russia. Since I don’t yet have my license, Brian came along as the instructor. We had to take two trips, but hey, that’s just more practice for me.

I was able to do some new things on this trip. I flew with one other passenger, which made a noticeable difference. Then with two, which really made a difference. That felt like a really heavy plane and the climb rate was really low.

We had been depriving the plane of fuel for that entire week so that we can get the weight off. We had about 40 gallons on the first flight and 30 left on the 4 person flight. Hoorah for weight and balance calculations!

The other new experience was piloting in the Class Bravo. I went through all the procedures with Brian before the trip. When it came down to it, talking to ATC was pretty easy. They were really friendly and accommodating.

We started out at Alpine tower, flew down the Hudson River, took a turn at the Statue of Liberty and flew up the East River. We then cut across Central Park, flew over Teterboro and then direct to Caldwell. Twice.

The landing with Kate was a smooth one on Runway 28. Unfortunately, I think I made the other girls a bit nervous. Tower gave us Runway 4, which had a direct crosswind. The plane was floating a lot and we were being pushed around, so we did a go-around. The second landing wasn’t as bad, but not terribly smooth. In retrospect, we should have taken 28, if not the first time, at least the second.

Plane: N491WS (C172)
From: CDW
Duration: 1.0


Plane: N491WS (C172)
From: CDW
Duration: 1.1

More Review

I went out with Tom again for more review. This was basically like our last flight.

He pulled the engine pretty early this time. We just made it to pattern altitude at Somerset, but it was windy and I kept it in too close. I was trying to keep the turn really tight onto a very short final, but it didn’t look too good. I hit the power and did a go-around. Tom claims we could have made it and mentioned we could have tightened the turn even more if we had dumped the flaps in.

We did try it a second time and all went well. But, I didn’t re-trim before I took off, so I had to hold a lot of forward pressure. Tom knew this. I saw him look back at the elevator and wrongfully assumed that he re-trimmed it. Thanks Tom.

The rest was just like the first review, but the shorts and softs were better. Although, the soft field landing can use a bit of work.

Plane: N491WS (C172)
From: CDW — SMQ -
Duration: 1.6

Solo Review

I went out alone today to practice all the maneuvers. I had to get through two lessons and decided I might as well do everything in one flight.

I started off with some takeoffs and landings at Caldwell. Soft takeoff, normal landing, normal takeoff, short landing, normal takeoff, go-around. I then left the pattern and headed for the onion fields.

I practiced some slow flight. It took me a few tries before my turns were smooth.

Then some power-off stalls. I did these twice to check them off the lists. The second was better than the first.

Then some power-on stalls. It is really hard to do a power-on stall without Tom in the plane. It’s so light that it took me three tries to get it to stall.

Then some steep turns. I did these twice. I lost about a hundred feet on the first one. The second was better. Maybe +/- 50.

Then I descended towards the fields and found a barn to turn around. There was barely any wind, but I never really had a problem with ground reference maneuvers. I flew to a line of trees and did some s-turns. They were very small S’s.

I flew back to Caldwell and did a stop and go for the short field takeoff and then a forward slip to a full stop.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW
Duration: 1.9