My commercial rating was finally bagged, unexpectedly, two days ago. Woohoo! I say unexpectedly because the weather was forecasted to be between MVFR and IFR and so, mentally, I was preparing to only get the oral portion completed.
Mother Nature changed her mind! Gasp! By the time the oral exam was completed, it was misting but the ceiling was 6,500 feet, winds calm, visibility more than 6 miles. The examiner was ready to fly. It was up to me to decide if we were going to take the flight portion or reschedule. In my mind, there was a risk if we went out to fly because I had walked into that check ride fully expecting NOT to be flying that day. It made the exam a lot less intimidating. I’d pushed aside the stress, worry and fears associated with the required flight maneuvers segment. If we didn’t go, that just meant that I’d have to carry that weight around until the examiners next date of availability. The holidays are upon us and that meant it could be another week. Did I really want to have this hovering over me for at least another week? An emphatic “no!” Knowing what a relief it would be to be completely finished, allowed me to announce that we would definitely be flying! I was all in. In my mind, the flight would absolutely be finished successfully today and I would be a commercial pilot.
Check rides are always stressful for me. It took me way too many hours to finally feel confident enough to take my private pilot check ride. I don’t even want to know the amount of money spent on extra lessons, fuel, etc., just to bolster my confidence. Oh-the cross country trips that could’ve been taken with that money!!! Grrrrr. Every persons journey is different, however. That’s what it took for me.
Meeting the DPE (designated pilot examiner) is always intimidating. What will this person be like? Will he be mean? Will he yell at me? Will he ask me questions that only Charles Lindbergh would know? Most importantly: Can I make him laugh? Being in a room with someone for 2+ hours is really going to be torture if we can’t enjoy some laughter. I have to break the ice fairly quickly with some kind of ridiculous sarcasm, cheesy pun or joke. That’s one of the first things I like to do because I need to gauge how rigid this person is.
From Me To You…
Tip #1) Don’t sign up for the check ride unless you thoroughly know your stuff for the oral portion. You may be completely comfortable with the airplane maneuvers but that’s not going to get you through. Study, study, and study some more. I would crawl under the table in shame and be completely embarrassed if I lacked knowledge on any of the subjects for this exam. There are too many resources to be unprepared. Yes, studying isn’t that much fun but it is what gets you to your goal. It’s a small amount of time in the whole scheme of your life. Besides, if you weren’t studying, what else would you be doing that would be even remotely close to getting you one step closer to your dreams? Watching Netflix? Posting on Instagram? Drinking a beer with friends? That last one sounds pretty good right now, actually. The point is: Invest in yourself by investing in study time!
Tip #2) Getting through the oral portion of the exam means only answering the required question. Do not elaborate. I repeat: DO NOT ELABORATE! Don’t try to sound like you know more than you do because they will probe for more details and then you run the risk of flubbing the whole thing. Answer and then zip your mouth shut. Literally say to yourself, “be quiet” after answering the question. And smile. There’s probably nothing more annoying to an examiner that has a gazillion flight hours then some new pilot who wants to sound like they know everything or that they know more than they actually do. I bet the examiner is just saying to himself “Hmmm. The longer he/she talks, the more entertaining this is going to get. How long will it take before they completely screw up?” Don’t be the examiners entertainment that he can annihilate the next time he’s hanging out with his pilot friends that also have a gazillion flight hours.
Time On My Hands
It’s been two years of non-stop flight training for me to get to this point. Becoming a CFI is not on my “to-do” list. I won’t say “never,” because life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Who knows if I’ll eventually take that route or not? People ask me why and there are three reasons.
- I’ve heard it’s hard.
- I’m not excited about sitting at an FBO all day when the weather isn’t cooperative for flying.
- I’ve heard it’s hard. Wait. I already said that.
Right now, it’s an adjustment to NOT be studying. There’s a slight hesitation when sitting on the sofa without an aviation book or notecards. What’s wrong with this picture? Something’s not right. What will I do with my time now? How about fly just for the sake of fun and accruing those hours?!?! Most of my flights lately have been for lessons. I’m ready to take some fun trips to visit friends or go to new destinations or maybe just some leisurely flights to some local airports.
However, knowing me…..I can’t sit still for long. That’s just not my nature. Onward and upward! My next step is obtaining my multi-engine rating. That will be very different and it sounds really fun and challenging to me. There are schools that offer accelerated courses where you can get through within a week. That is attainable. Plus, there are school locations in sunny destinations. Studying, while basking in the sunlight, sounds like my kind of school! Let’s call it a schoolcation.
The End Of An Era?
So much has happened and I’ve reached many goals in these past two years. Most of my full-time student pilot life is over. The airlines do not interest me. There are other ratings I’d like but most of those are typically accomplished within a few days. My hours are creeping up to a point where I’m hirable. There have been a few connections reaching out to me about flying for the fleets that they manage. This is the beginning of many new things for me. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 19 years. I’ve never worked outside of the home. What will that be like? I’m excited about learning to fly new airplanes and continuing to learn more about aviation. This may be the end of the bulk of my student pilot training but I feel like it’s the beginning of a whole new world of unforeseen opportunities for me. I’m pretty giddy about it. ☺️