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Location: Massachusetts, United States

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hang a left at the gator

I was sweating bullets in the stuffy Seminole cockpit 4,000ft above the Everglades trying to pinpoint my position over the sprawling swamp. Next to me, in the left seat, was the examiner responsible for deciding my fate as an instructor candidate. And with precious few landmarks around us, I could feel that pink slip draw closer and closer.
There's something to be said for uncluttered landscapes where features stand out more. In this case, however, all I had were two highways running east and west, both with a reasonably similar bend in about the same spot. It took a couple of minutes, but I finally found our position and headed back in for short-field and single-engine landings.
In the past hour, I'd taught the examiner turns about a point, steep turns, stalls, a Vmc demo, slow flight, a full engine shutdown and an emergency descent. Except for the first series of steep turns, all went reasonably well and I still held hope of being an instructor upon our return to Fort Lauderdale.
My short-field landing was spot on the numbers, but far from soft. Up we went again and at 500AGL I failed the left engine and ran my "student" through the emergency drill before putting in a little power to simulate a feathered prop. Came around and made a decent landing. The examiner took the controls and I had to critique his take off and landing.
Minutes later, having flown a passable but far from perfect checkride, I was a multi-engine instructor.
Strangely enough, joy wasn't the first feeling I experienced. Rather, a soothing sense of relief came over me as I tied the Seminole down. The initial CFI checkride is said to be one of the toughest, if not the toughest checkride in a pilot's career and with only one incredibly intense week of studying in CFI school and little flying I felt utterly unprepared for the the big day.
Spin training a few days before made for a fun break. I love spins!
Monday morning came and I flew myself from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, a pleasant flight with some actual, a nice view of the Daytona Speedway and the Kennedy Space Center. After landing, I rushed to the hotel to study more as time inoxerably rushed by me. Even after a week of prep, I wasn't sure where to start. Stability? The drag charts? Perhaps a final review of my lesson plans? Oh, crap, how about weather? And those regs could use a little more brushing up on.
At 5:30 a.m. yesterday morning, after only a handful of hours of sleep, I awoke feeling overwhelmed.
"Who am I kidding, I'm not ready, I can't do this," I thought.
Exhaustion had caught up with me and the monumental task ahead seemed insurmountable.
I arrived at the airport at 6:30 and loaded up on caffeine before starting the oral half and hour later.
The examiner seemed friendly, greeting me with a pleasant smile. We chatted for a bit and as the questions came my way I grew more and more comfortable. A lot of the knowledge sprung out from dark recesses in my brain, odds and ends I'd forgotten I'd stored there.
All in all it was a great experience and the examiner couldn't have been nicer. He also taught me a few good tricks to help my students along.
I should be going for my CFII checkride in the next couple of days, then on to the single-engine add-on. I'll then head home to reunite with my wife and teach.
It's definitely been a trip. A long one.
The last three months feel like a year.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are the BALLS!!


-Red Sox Hater

7:22 PM  
Blogger John said...

Congratulations, again.

Is there an echo in here? :-)

7:51 PM  
Anonymous phil said...

and I thought my ppl checkride was stressful. great job!

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrates. It is still good i am not the only person thinking about make the this major move. It is nice to read and understand that this is not just a pipe dream of mine, that there are others who have the same dreams and are in the process of completing them.

1:31 PM  

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