The Monster Under the Bed

Passing My First Practical Test

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Last Sunday I passed my practical test for the Sport Pilot certificate. And what an eye opener it was. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect and, on top of that, I had managed, very methodically, during the few months leading up to that day, to work myself into somewhat of a tizzy about The Event. It didn’t help that I imagined that all FAA examiners were big, scary I’m-going-to-make-your-life-miserable monsters. Or that I knew that my brain had been dulled by an education system in which multiple-choice testing was the standard. The thought of a one-on-one oral test was knee-shaking — I couldn’t help but wonder if my brain would hold up under pressure. There’s so much information to learn and know about flying, he/she could ask me anything … practically!

These fears, I realized, were ultimately of my own creation, thanks in some part to my psychosomatic fallibilities — and in part to the fact that because of this Great Unknown I had fashioned, failure could be a possibility. My friends and colleagues reassured me that it would OK if I had to do it over. And I am a big believer that even with failure you can win big with lessons learned. But somehow I don’t think I would have taken it so well in this case. I had invested a lot of time and heart into this and knew that the investment wouldn’t be ending any time soon, God willing. In a word, I was committed to the lifelong success of this relationship I had renewed with aviation. That investment and commitment (not to mention the training!) alone should have been enough reassurance for me to know that I could overcome any monsters.

Sure enough, the Great Unknown revealed itself as The Event unfolded that day. There was no monster. Instead there was what I suspected to be a model examiner, one whose job was to be sure she would sign off on a safe pilot and no less. There were no mind games or tactical silent stares to break me down into quivering mess. Just real-world scenarios that I had to either converse about or aviate through. My examiner’s congratulatory handshake officially informed me that I had performed competently and passed my first practical. For sure, the next one will be much less scary (at least she said so!)!

_Do you remember your first practical test? Did it seem like a big unknown as far as how the examiner was going to approach it? Did you worry about the outcome or did you handle it with aplomb? I'd love to hear about it!
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