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So here I am finally at the point where I will be tested by the FAA to be a private pilot.  I have graduated from my training school, received my graduation certificate and will be brushing up on a few skills.  I have also filed my paperwork with the government.  I am so close, yet always  learning and practicing.  Today I did some short field and soft field operations, and to be quite honest, my soft field landings could have been much better and they have been …. practice, practice and more practice is the only solution!!  See you on the tarmac smily-face1

So here I am nearing the end of my private pilot training and I need to take the End of course checkride with a senior flight instructor (and FAA examiner) at my flight school.   He and both my instructor ensure me this will be much tougher than my FAA checkride.  So now I am very nervous and hoping I don’t forget something major along the way.  If anything else, I will ensure safety along every dimension of the progress check. 

So it is a beautiful, but cold day in the Boston area and I have planned a flight to White Plains (KHPN) from my home airport (KBED).  I feel good about my plan and arrive at the airport at 10:00 a.m. to meet with my flight instructor for 2.5 hours of questions and review.  I then take a 30 minute break and sit down with the examiner for 2 hours of questions ranging from Airspace, to airplance systems, to emergency procedures,  to weather, to the proper recovery from spins and stalls.   I felt pretty good regarding my knowledge and he said…. ” you did quite well on this, “so let’s going flying”.

So I began with preflight, taxi and runup.  All went well, but I do have to remind myself to always account for wind and direction even while on the ground.  There was little wind but even with little wind, I should show and examiner that I am thinking about it by demonstrating.  I did a short field take-off which I might add was pretty near flawless and leveled off at 2500 feet on my southwest course.  Original plan was 6500 feet to White plains, but the day was getting short and my examiner adjusted the altitude.   From here we did a diversion, simulated engine failure, stalls, steep turns, unusual attitude recovery under the hood and s -turns.  We then headed back to the airport and did some touch and goes with soft-field and short field take-offs and landings.

All in all I felt great about my performance, especially my landings and communication, but will do a couple more flights to brush up on the use of Auto Pilot, diversions and keeping a better eye on my altitude through all maneuvers.  We ended with a debrief and I walked aout after 8 hours on fairly intense time at the airport …. I was exhausted but really excited about where I am to date.  WOOO HOOO !!!

Today was a beautiful day in New England for flying.  Recently, due to wind, rain, snow and ice it has been difficult to practice.  But today was perfect and I put it all together.  I took off from Bedford (KBED – Hanscom airfield) and headed to a small airport in Sterling (3B3).  The airport has a 34/16 runway that is much shorter and narrower than Bedford, as well as, trees on either end to help simulate those obstacles you need to clear on both approach and departure. 

If I do say so myself, the day went nearly flawless until a rather large hawk decided to cross our path on final approach … so we had to go full power climb and go around.   Not a problem, because the go around went well and we made an almost perfect landing.  

A couple of really good lessons/reminders today.  Communicate every position and intention throughout your flight when flying around an uncontrolled airport AND it is amazing how the smaller runway provides such an amazing illusion regarding airspeed.  I felt like I was going much faster than at my larger home airport. 

I learn something every time.  I am now going to have my end-of-course check ride to ensure when I go up with the FAA Examiner … I will be confident and well polished.