Friday, November 2, 2012

Instrument Check Ride - The Freak Out

After many months of training and hours of simulated instrument time (and .4 hours of actual) my instrument check ride finally came this week on November 1. Before the ride though, there is always the preparation, study and pre-check ride nerves. This time was very different from my private check ride for me. This time I was nervous about the oral and less nervous about the flight portion. That is because I'd already done a complete mock instrument check ride and proven I can pass the flight portion. The oral portion was another story.

The night before the check ride I was freaking out about the weather portion of the oral test because when I went through it with my CFI I did really bad. However, I think that was what I needed to refocus my brain. I went back through the notes I made when I did my PPL check ride. When I reviewed those notes I started to remember the right way to do the weather portion. It was just like my CFI reminded me. OK, maybe I could pull that off. 

I was also freaking out a bit about all of the stuff you just need to know to do instrument flying. The rules, charts, procedures, lost com procedures, aircraft systems, failure modes, different types of icing, a better understanding of weather, currency (or is that recency?) requirements, etc., etc. What would I have to explain to the DPE? How would she ask the questions? Oh boy, I kept thinking. Oh man, oh man. How was I going to do this? 

I worried about the cross country I had to plan. I started that off with a big fail. I misread the email from the DPE telling me what airport to plan the flight to. So, I spent an hour planning a flight to the wrong airport! Fortunately I talked to my CFI about that airport and he pointed out - wrong airport! Good thing about that was, doing that plan got my cross country planning juices flowing. I re-planned to the correct airport. I did two plans actually, one for an approach using one runway, one for the other runway in case the winds favored it. Something important to think about, you never know which approach you will actually get. And then of course, I had to plan for the alternate and the route to the alternate and the fuel and time to the alternate. By the time I got done with all of that I was feeling a bit cross-eyed and tired. I didn't do the fuel and time calculations because I wanted to do that based on the weather the next morning.

I reviewed my study notes for the instrument ride one last time, and found I knew it. Have you ever read something and as you read each word you knew what it was? You didn't have to read it to know it? That's what I found myself doing.  Word after word, fact after fact, regulation after regulation and procedure on procedure, I knew it. That made me feel better.  It was getting late and I had to get up very early the next morning to get and print the weather for the check ride.  I went to sleep feeling more confident, at least I knew what I knew and that was no small thing.

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