Philippe knocked out his private pilot exam this summer before he left for freshman year of college. I asked him to write up his experience while it was still fresh in his mind!
The check ride:
Whoa! What a windy day it was! From what I remember it was somewhere around 340 degrees (north northwest) at 15kts gusting to 23kts. I haven't practiced in such strong cross winds which made the test more demanding.
We started out with the oral exam. Thanks to you I had the blue private pilots license oral exam study guide, which helped tremendously. All of the questions that the examiner asked were somewhere in that book. I don't know if this is the case for all examiners but my examiner approached the oral part of the check ride as a story. He told me that one of my friends was gone for the weekend and that I could use his plane. From there he asked me questions like, can I fly it? What does the plane need in order to fly? What are the weather minimums? etc. The oral took about 2 hours. Nothing unexpected, I simply answered his question without saying too much or too little.
Then came the flight. He gave me a 10 minute break to check everything including weather and doing last minute planning. I could feel my heart pounding, trying figure out how I was going to pass the check ride with such strong winds. I pulled myself together and went out to the plane for the pre-flight. The examiner asked me a couple of questions about the airplane systems and I started the plane up.
I started with the cross country flight he had asked me to plan as homework, and to my surprise (thankfully) he didn't make me work through an E6B (flight computer including wind correction angles, fuel burn, etc.) problem. All he asked for were my checkpoints and if we where on time- comparing GPS groundspeed to planned groundspeed).
After my second visual checkpoint he told me that the cross country phase was over and asked that I put the foggles on for some work solely by reference to instruments. We did some instrument work and he asked me to find KMMK (Meriden Markham Airport) using VORs; I did what he asked and flew there. Enroute, he had me perform stalls, slow flight and steep turns. I got the KMMK radio frequencies dialed in, listened to the ATIS (automatic weather broadcast), and got ready for a short/soft field landing. The wind was kicking in and I knew from the beginning of the approach that the landing wasn't going to be great. I met the short/soft field landing standards requirements, but barely. We took off again, staying in the pattern and he had me complete a go-around on the next landing approach. We then headed back towards Bridgeport and enroute he asked me to do turns around a point--I could really see the point of the exercise since my upwind and downwind bank angles were very different.
Heading back to Bridgeport for a final landing, with the strong crosswind, I knew it wasn't going to be a greased landing, but I landed safely and that's all that matters. He signed off my certificate and I’m now a private pilot!
A couple weeks after his exam, we went flying and actually had to split the flight time, now that he's a private pilot! Congrats Philippe!