Wednesday September 23rd 2015 became the day where to prove everything that I learned during the past 12 months. It was the day of the skill test – or you could call it the final practical exam.
The skill test is a 3 hour test of both theory questions and the practical carrying out. It consists of multiple elements, some mandatory and some randomly chosen by the examiner. The high level elements are:
- Preflight briefing with flight planning including route, fuel/weight and balance calculations, start/landing distances, weather forecasts, NOTAMs etc.
- Navigation where the focus is on the ability to plan and execute a flight plan, find and follow way points and use different navigation instruments.
- General handling and maneuvering og the aircraft is tested by executing different kind of maneuvers and airwork e.g. steep turns in different configurations, stalls in different configurations, recovery exercises etc.
- Emergency procedures are tested during the entire skill test and the simulated emergencies can arise at any time during the flight.
- Positioning exercises can both be “find out where you are and find your way home” and it can be “we need to land soon, find the nearest airfield and land there”.
- Landing circuits are carried out with minimum 3 landings, which normally would be either power-off (glide landing), flapless landing, crosswind landing and maybe just a normal landing.
I arrived 9am Wednesday morning to the airport with two hours to do the aircraft preparations and the last minut adjustments to my prepared flight plans and documentation.
I was a bit concerned on the weather reports that I got for Roskilde airport with temporary periods with low hanging clouds in 1200 feets. Not enough to cancel the skill test, but it was not going to make anything easier. The good thing was however the calm wind:
- TAF EKRK 230822Z 2309/2318 20008KT 9999 SCT020 TEMPO 2309/2310 BKN012=
- METAR 230950Z AUTO 17007KT 9999NDV FEW014/// SCT017/// 15/12 Q1006=
Problem was however that bad weather was approaching from the south west and would actually hit the area of my destination with low hanging clouds in 500-800 feets were I had to cross open water, so I decided during my planning to give it a “no-go” (we were not able to reach the destination flying VFR).
The preflight briefing went well except one thing. The examiner caught me in having a wrong version of the landing distance charts from the aircraft manual. Serious stuff actually, but he actually addressed my instructor (who was also present) rather than me, insinuating that this was a point which on the flight school would need better procedures.
Then we headed out for departure in OY-BLZ and in less than 200 ft the examiner pulled the throttle simulating an engine failure. I was completely unprepared because instructors during training normally would ask tower for clearance to perform simulated engine failure after departure, which would give me some seconds to prepare mentally. But this time the examiner had prearranged that with the tower. I quickly configured for landing and landed safely straight ahead on the runway again. We taxied back for a new take-off.
After take-off I had to stay a bit below my planned altitude to stay within the vertical cloud separation limits. After leaving the control zone I got generator fault and responded to that. I followed my flight plan and when reaching the west coast of Zeeland I got low oil pressure. I responded by checking oil temperature and advised that we needed to land at nearest airfield in Korsør. Fortunately I had actually studied this specific airfield the day before because I had considered using it as a way point, so it went pretty smooth to find and approach it.
Because of the clouds were were not really able to go any higher than 1400 ft (right below TMA), so I was not able to conduct all the airwork that usually requires minimum 2000 ft, but we did some different exercises and it went pretty smooth. Under way the examiner asked questions in different topics and again pulled the throttle for a simulated engine failure. I followed the emergency procedure to restart the engine, but it didn’t work, so I prepared for emergency landing on a field. I went straight on a nice base and simulated the mayday call etc. After that the examiner was happy, and asked me to find my way home to Roskilde. I had already set up a VOR that I could follow inbound so I just did that without thinking too much of were I was. when the DME came alive I could easily position myself on the map.
Safely back in Roskilde I joined the landing circuit directly on the base and did first a normal landing, then a flapless landing. There was no less that 5 aircrafts in the circuit, so I was really busy keeping track of all the planes and when to turn behind what aircraft and who to follow. And due to the intense traffic we were not able to get clearance for a power-off landing.
Safely back in the briefing room, the examiner told me that he overall was very satisfied with the performance. There were some buts and whys, but in generally the performance was smooth and safe. E.g. he told me that I had joined the landing circuit in a too high altitude. Because of the ground elevation of 146 ft, the downwind altitude is 1150 ft, and I joined on base in 1150 ft. I should have joined lower, when joining directly on base. Also he had comments regarding my approach in Korsør which were too high.
All in all I passed. The examiner wrote my temporary pilot license and did all the paperwork, and of course congratulated me. What a relief.
First flight with fiends
Already on the Saturday I went with a couple of friends and had my first flight on my own with no instructors or anything … just me and my friends. What a wonderful feeling that was.
I did however learn the importance of advising my passanger of any maneuvers like turns and configuration changes to prepare them on the aircraft movements, which are more severe that in large jets. I had almost forgotten how I felt my self when I started flying lessons myself back in February when I really felt uncomfortable when the instructor grabbed the controls and performed unexpected maneuvers.
Here is the video of my first flight with friends: