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WelcomeLearning to Fly!Pilot AdventuresMichael's Private Pilot Checkride

in the morning, I gathered all of my materials together and headed to the Santa Monica airport where I would meet the examiner for the oral portion of the checkride followed by the flying practical examination in the afternoon. After sitting in rush hour traffic on the 405 freeway on my way to the airport, it reminded me how awesome the experience of flying is rather than sitting in traffic! Thankfully I made it to the airport with time to spare.

After meeting Joe Justice, the examiner, and going through the application paperwork, it was time to start the oral. We started with verifying that the airplane for the afternoon flight was airworthy. It turned out that the airplane had just come out of its 50 hour inspection and all the paperwork was in order. We went through my logbook to verify that I met all the requirements for the certificate and had the appropriate signatures. Then the questions began! Aeronautical decision making, aircraft systems, weather, stalls and spins, weight and balance and everything in between was covered. I felt well prepared for the questions and even learned a few things from Joe through the discussions over the course of the morning. The oral exam finished with going over my flight plan to California City (L71) and discussion over  how I chose the route, which altitude to use, and which airspace to avoid and why.

After a short break for lunch and a call to the Flight Service Station for a weather briefing, it was time to do some flying! When I saw N796SP for the first time, I was relieved because it looked very similar to the other C172’s at PSA. I did the preflight and it was time to taxi to the runup area. The plan was to follow my flight plan out to Agua Dulce (L70) where we would then do the maneuvers and landings. After lifting off of runway 21 and turning north over the coast, I was able to pick up flight following to California City. Joe cancelled the flight following over the Newhall Pass after confirming that my flight planning was accurate, and I turned the airplane towards the practice area. Unfortunately we were getting some light turbulence to the point where it would be hard to conduct the maneuvers within the given parameters. So, we headed over to Camarillo in search of smoother air while doing hood work enroute. Once in the practice area near Camarillo, I was asked to demonstrate slow flight in straight and level and then descent. A power off stall was performed followed by a power on stall. I then performed an emergency spiral to land on a patch of straight road and did a go-around at the bottom of the descent. The maneuvers finished with a turn around a point, steep turns, and unusual attitudes. After the maneuvers, he asked me to pull out a chart and tell him the time, distance, and fuel burn required to get to Whiteman airport. After answering that, he told me to take him to Whiteman. Great I thought, of course he would choose one of the few airports in the area I hadn’t been to before! Oh well, good experience nonetheless. After transitioning through Van Nuys airspace, I had Whiteman in sight. After a landing that was not as smooth as I had hoped it would be, we were on the ground in Whiteman and heading back to the runup area to discuss what he wanted to do next. Once there, Joe requested a soft field takeoff with a soft field landing in Burbank. Once again, I had never flown into Burbank, but I was familiar with the class Charlie airspace. Plus, Whiteman to Burbank was such a short flight that the whole thing was over before I knew it! After taxiing back to runway 15, it was time for the short field takeoff and my nemesis, the short field landing at Santa Monica. Joe held me at 2,000 feet so that I could perform a slip to intercept the glide slope. After touching down on my target, the thousand foot markers, I was relieved to have made a good short field landing! After taxiing off the runway I got clearance back to Justice Aviation. Close to the hangar, Joe took the controls and said the long awaited words, ‘congratulations, let’s do some paperwork’. While putting away the airplane, it hadn’t quite hit me yet that I was now a private pilot!

A few weeks after getting my certificate, I took an airplane out to Riverside to celebrate Father’s Day with my Dad. After being a passenger with him on American Airlines for years, it was finally his turn to be my passenger in an airplane! What a blast that weekend was and it has certainly been a dream come true to get the private pilot certificate!