We editors at Flying all strive to grow as pilots, continuously learning new things and gaining new ratings. Within the past year, we’ve each achieved new pilot certificates. Here’s what our experiences were like and some tips specific to each rating that may help you get through yours successfully.
>>> By Connie Sue White
For many pilots, the Private Pilot check ride was their first. For me it was my second (I had taken the check ride for my Sport Pilot license just over a year prior – see my “Monster Under the Bed” blog). In comparing the two, having experience going into the second ride made a big difference for me in that I knew generally what to expect for the oral and practical test as far as basic procedure. And I had the same designated examiner, Janeen Kochan, with whom I had developed a rapport, so I knew there would be no monster lurking there to do her best to scare me into a pink slip. Finally, the check ride was in the same airplane, one with which I was even more familiar with than the last time — I had logged quite a bit more time in the Remos since my sport check ride.
However, an intricate layer of plain ‘ole nerves still remained. One of the keys for me was to not work myself into a tizzy thinking everything on both the oral and practical had to be perfection. That isn’t the mandate and the Practical Test Standards gives tolerance limits for performance. The goal for the examiner was to see that I had the knowledge and skill to safely operate the aircraft. And, if on short final it looked like I was going to botch the short-field landing, I knew it would be the perfect time to demonstrate the go around, just as it should be — and as my instructor, Chris Esposito, taught me.
>>> By Pia Bergqvist
After gaining a stack of pilot ratings over my nearly 13-year flying career, the Seaplane certificate was by far the most fun. Though it had been several years since my last rating, I knew what check rides are all about, so my stress level was lower than it generally is during tests. And with the seaplane rating, the main focus is takeoffs and landings, which in my opinion are the most fun phases of flight.
The seaplane rating can be attained in a weekend. But if you really want to enjoy your time on the water I would highly suggest doing some pre-arrival studying. Read the practical test standards and obtain the knowledge you need to pass the test. The FAA has published a training manual called Seaplane, Skiplane and Floatplane/Ski Equipped Helicopter Operations Handbook. Study these two FAA publications and you’ll be well prepared for the oral exam.