Monday, February 23, 2009

Long time coming

Well, after not being able to complete my CFII due to the unfortunate events that took place during my training at ATP, I had finally committed to going for that final checkride, and fortunately for me, I passed. I am now, finally, a Certified Flight Instructor with an Instrument Add-on. And for those who don't know, the instrument add-on allows me to instruct students training for their instrument rating.

I was very pleased with the checkride. I scheduled the checkride the same day as my brother's Private Pilot's checkride so we could fly together to the airport where the examiner was. Maybe not the best idea after all was said and done. It was by far one of the longer days of my life. Not only had I been preparing myself for my CFII checkride, but also making sure my brother was to succeed as my first student to take his/her checkride.

I went first once we arrived, and we ran into some small glitches, but we got underway with the oral portion of the test. Having been an instructor for over a year, helped incrementally with my confidence to "act" as an instructor on a checkride. I also took the majority of my time getting to know every GPS regulation and operation with the particular GPS in our Cessna, the KLN 94. I've previously only used the Garmin 430 in our Piper Seminoles, and upon switching to the KLN 94, I thought it wouldn't be that much of a difference to have to really pay attention. I was wrong. There are many differences in the two units, and I'd have to say that the Garmin is far more user intuitive than the KLN. However, I did very well on the portion of the oral where the examiner had me talk about the GPS, and I'm glad I took the time to go over it. The rest of the oral portion basically tested my general knowledge of IFR flying, but with a teaching prospective, which went well. The oral lasted a little over 2 hours, and finally the examiner said to pack my things up and preflight the plane.

I wasn't too worried about the flight portion of the checkride, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy either. As always, I forgot some items during the flight that I beat myself up later for forgetting. Like forgetting to check the RAIM availability before the flight, which I practiced a hundred times. Our first approach was the ILS back to the airport we departed from, which I flew pretty strongly. I also wasn't pleased, however, with my partial panel, VOR approach afterwards. Partial panel is where the examiner, or instructor, covers up the attitude and heading indicators. One must rely on the turn coordinator and compass for bank, and altimeter and vertical speed indicator for pitch. Keeping straight and level, and standard rate turns wasn't difficult, but shooting the approach was. I used timed turns on every turn in the approach, however when trying to keep my CDI needle centered throughout the approach, all I did was turn a bit for correction. This was incorrect. The examiner later showed me how this technique is by far less accurate than using timed turns. Apart from that, my approach was mediocre. We then went out and the examiner had me teach timed turns with the examiner flying the aircraft, which I did and ended up saving myself from the approach previous. I then instructed the examiner on a GPS approach back the our departure airport where we did a full stop and taxied back.

Ask anyone, and they'll say that one never flies their best on a checkride; I am not an exception. Not only do you feel bad about how poorly you flew, but the examiner does a pretty good job critiquing your flying to the point where they seem disappointed in you. It doesn't ever feel good. So when the examiner said I passed, it wasn't the most excited I could have been, but mostly due to the fact that I had my brother doing his checkride next. This was going to prove whether or not I can succeed as an instructor.

I was able to sit in on my brother's oral portion of the test, and was very proud of his knowledge. A few things the examiner told me I needed to emphasize, but overall, he performed very well on the oral. It was definitely a good prospective to sit in on a checkride of one of my students for the first time. Afterwards, I went to grab lunch while they prepared for their flight. Once I got back, they had just began to taxi out to the runway. I ate, tried to sleep, but failed, and soon enough I heard a plane's engine and looked out the window of the FBO were we were, and saw the plane taxi back. It seemed a bit early for them to return, and thus worried me that he had failed. I stared out the window to find any cue that would tell me whether or not it was a pass or fail. My brother walked to the other side of the plane, which was odd, stood by the nose while the examiner walked away from the plane. I thought, what is happening? I see the examiner then take out a camera and take a picture. He passed.

At that moment, all the preparation of both checkrides, the fear of not being a successful instructor, was suddenly taken off my shoulders and it was a big sigh of relief and celebration.

We began our flight back home, flew into some light precipitation, and finally returned from a 11 hour day. It was worth it.