pilot, airplane pilot, aircraft pilot, hire a pilot, I just took my umpteenth checkride yesterday. And it got me to thinking…

How many times have you broken out into a sweat just by thinking about your upcoming checkride? Even when the checkride is still months away, just thinking about it approaching can speed up our heart and cause our palms to sweat. We  start thinking about what we don’t know…I’m not sure how we think about something that we don’t know, but Defense Secretary Rumsfeld explained it best: “There are things that we don’t know and there are things that we know that we dont know”…???…or something like that, you get the idea.

Well, a checkride is just an oral and flight test. In the case of an initial checkride, the examiner or checkairman is charged with determining that you have either attained all of the knowledge and skills to safely fly an airplane. Or that you still have the “right stuff” would be the case in a recurrent checkride.

I think the apprehension comes from the fear of failing the checkride. Nobody likes to fail at anything, but failing a checkride can happen to even the best of pilots for various reasons. The good news about failing is that it gives you a chance to learn something about your own abilities and more about something that you love, flying. More good news is that even after failing, you will only have to get instruction in the area you failed. Now simply demonstrate this new knowledge or skill to the checkairman to pass. Not so bad; you have now passed the ride and you are a better pilot in the process.

It all stems from your attitude in how you approach the checkride. If you have studied the material, received training and practiced flying the airplane, you should be ready. To be sure, spend some time with a good flight instructor. Ask for him to evaluate you. Listen open hearted and with the right attitude at what he offers in the form of a constructive critique. Any good Instructor will then begin to instruct you in ways to improve on any areas he feels could use improvement.

Now back to the checkride. Here are some things to keep in mind. Your checkairman is just a pilot too, Albeit probably a very skilled and experienced pilot. He shares the love of flying with you. You have that going for you.  So relax and talk about something that you both enjoy talking about…flying.

Now a few more words about the thing that we are all afraid of…the fear that the checkairman will ask us a question about something that we don’t know anything about. And that will lead to our failing the checkride! Well, you can relax about this too, because every checkride I have ever taken, I came out of knowing more than when I went in. How did that happen, you ask? I’ll tell you. It goes back to what I said earlier about attitude. Going into every checkride as prepared as you can be, but also go in with an open heart and be ready for the checkairman to teach you a little more. Every checkairman I have ever seen, that was worth his salt, is looking for an opportunity to share just a little more knowledge with you to add to what you have already amassed own you own.

So answer all of the questions you can as knowledgeable and as confidently as you can. And whenever the checkairman ask the occasional question that you don’t know the answer to, admit you don’t know the answer. And look for the opportunity to learn from the checkairman’s explanation. You will both become better pilots and gentlemen in the process.

Oh, and about my checkride I took yesterday…I passed again…for the umpteenth time.

Tailwinds, Tim

Tim McConnell

Director of Aviation Accounts

tmcconnell@flyssc.com