Flight Lesson 26: Pre-solo Checkride

Today I flew with Tomoharu for my pre-solo checkride.  Upon entering the school, I said hi to Tomoharu and proceeded to check the weather.  The following was the METAR, which indicated a crosswind condition if runway 4/22 is in use:

KCDW 151753Z 31007KT 290V360 10SM OVC050 21/09 A2994

Tomoharu asked if I was comfortable flying under those conditions, and I said, “Sure, my landings may not be the prettiest, but I’ll get us on the ground”

We then proceeded to do a weight and balance (believe it or not, the first one I’ve performed up to this point) together.  We were within limits and then proceeded to the plane for preflight.  I preflighted the plane and then Tomoharu asked me what documents do we need in order to fly?  I replied, “Student pilot certificate, registration, airworthiness certificate and operator’s manual”.  Tomoharu corrected me by saying I needed:  registration, airworthiness certificate, original copy from the factory of the operating limitations of the aircraft, and a weight/balance calculation.

A TFR was in place over Greenwood Lake due to the airshow so we planned to fly west instead.  We then departed using runway 28 due west.  I kept the plane below pattern altitude over Square Lake and below 2000 feet due to ILS approaches being in use for Morristown.  En route, Tomoharu pulled the power to idle and said the engine is out.  I went through the emergency procedure and identified a golf course as our landing spot.  We then resumed our travel to the west and once clear of the Class Bravo shelf, went up to 3500 feet.

We proceeded through the maneuvers (slow flight, power off stall, power on stall, and steep turns) all of which were done to Tom’s satisfaction.

We then headed back to CDW for some touch and go’s.  We flew back down to 2500 feet to clear the Class Bravo.  Once past Morristown approach, I started to descend and Tom said I should wait until we get over Boonton Reservoir to descend and contact ATC.  Descending too early gives you less options in case an emergency occurs and you need the altitude to reach a safe landing spot.

We then did a couple of touch and go’s.  I also performed a go around.  Not my best landings either although I did get us on the ground safely as I promised.

Afterwards, Tomoharu and I debriefed while Tom Fischer listened in.

Tomoharu’s Talking Points:

  • My ground track around the pattern was sloppy due to the crosswinds and my lack of applying compensation.
  • The landings were “survivable”
  • ATC in Class Delta only have separation responsibility on the ground (i.e. takeoffs and landings).  Don’t let them dictate how to fly a plane, unless they give specific instructions.
  • I should start the pre-landing checklist earlier on the downwind instead of abeam the numbers so I don’t get behind the curve and fly to far down before completing the list and making the turn to base too late.
  • I need to watch the bank angle when turning from base to final.  This is the most dangerous part of the flight since the additional aircraft loading inherent with turns will increase the stall speed.  I often had to make steeper then sensible turns when going from base to final because I waited too long to turn and also because of the crosswind pushing me.
  • Although my airspeed management during my approach was generally okay, my last approach of the day I was going too slow.

It looks like I “passed” with the caveat that I clean up my landings and pattern work more before I solo.  I’m looking forward to addressing this shortcoming and hopefully soloing soon.