Saturday, January 20, 2007

Commercial: Stick A Fork In It

I guess the image above answers any questions. Thanks to good fortune and a lot of hard work, I am finally a commercial pilot.

The check ride went pretty well. Before we took off, I mentioned to him that weather along the route wasn't looking good for VFR. There was ground fog and snow flurries about 15 miles South of Gateway and it didn't look too good. He said that we would depart towards the destination and he would divert me when necessary.

My first checkpoint was Coolidge Airport (P08). We ended up between a layer of fog and the ceiling on the climb out and I leveled off. I stated right there that 1. I wouldn't have taken off if I were actually going to Sierra Vista and 2. If I were en-route and came upon this on a VFR flight, I would divert now or cancel. He acknowledged and asked me to proceed. OK then. It began to snow. This was my first time flying in snow and it looks cool. It wasn't accumulating on the wings, but I could not see Coolidge or the sky above. I had a VOR radial backup and steered for it and used DME to measure my distance from Gateway. Dead reckoning and NAV radios said we were there, and just as I was about to tell the DPE that we should be over Coolidge, the fog cleared and Coolidge was below us.

At this point, I expected him to divert me. Nope. He had me go on to the second checkpoint, which was a cool little mountain called Picacho Peak. It was another 7 minutes away. So I steered for Picacho and enjoyed the view of the mountains covered with snow and fog. I wish I had time to snap a few photos, it was gorgeous. When I got on top of Picacho, he diverted me to Phoenix Regional (A39). I kind of expected to be diverted there, just not from so far away. We got into snow and MVFR visibility again and I found myself making sure the VOR backups were setup. I grabbed every ground reference point I could. My calculations were exactly on and we got to Phoenix Regional 17 minutes after starting the diversion. He complimented me on the accuracy of my diversion, especially considering the weather conditions. That felt good to hear.

At Phoenix Regional, we did the typical engine out maneuvers, short, soft and power off 180 landings. They all went off without a hitch and I was pleased.

We then departed North and did eights on pylons. In my second turn, the throttle got bumped and decreased manifold pressure by 2". I adjusted my altitude for the decreased speed and it worked out just fine. He said that I did the right thing.

Then we did slow flight, stalls, Chandelles, Lazy Eights and Steep Turns. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Gateway. On the way back he cut my engine at 4,500' and I picked a dirt crop dusting strip that was about 4 miles away. We made it with altitude to spare. Nice.

After that, we headed back to Gateway. He just asked me for the nicest, smoothest landing I could give right on the numbers and exit at taxiway Lima. That was as perfectly reasonable request and a great way to end a successful check ride. We parked, he said "You did great, no suspense. I'll see you inside after you shut down and secure the aircraft."

3 for 3! With any luck, I'll be ready for my multi-engine add on in the next week or so. I have to say, it feels good to be a commercial pilot!


the fam said...

Congratulations!! That is awesome and we are proud of you!

John said...

Sounds like you nailed the entire ride and got a bit of adventure as part of the bargin.


Jason said...

Sounds like the ride was a touch of flying perfection! Way to go!

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Thanks guys.

I was fortunate to have a DPE who isn't a ball breaker. It could have just as easily gone the other way. As bad as the weather was, I think it was good for me to have the added stress. It kept me from becoming too relaxed and complacent, when the mistakes really happen.

Jason - I like your blog and have added it to my Blog Roll.


Paul in the CA Desert said...

I'm a bit late but congratulations! Sounds like an awesome ride.

Teller said...

Hey Mike, big congrats! Hopefully I'll have a similar piece of paper before too long. Good luck with the Senecas! See you around the line.