Friday, February 5, 2010

Blew the Ride :-(

I blew my first instrument checkride at about 45 instrument hours. I thought I could do it, but I went into it with a lot of trepidation. And I was putting a lot of pressure on myself - I've been staying home to fly while my family is in the lower 48 in our motorhome for almost 3 months. And I had some further training plans that I had tentatively scheduled on the heels of this with my family meeting me in AZ. And I had to go back to work out of town right away... so I REALLY thought I HAD to get this ride right and done that week.

The Examiner (DPE) intimidated me (and I let him, lol). He told me that I barely passed the oral and that he thought an Engineer (I don't know how he knew that because I didn't tell him) would take more pride in doing a complete professional job and not just "try to get by". I wanted to tell him: "Buddy, I have 2 college degrees, am licensed to practice Engineering in two countries and I think I f-ing know what I need to know. " Which I do.

Anyway, he had me so rattled and distracted that when we went to fly the first approach, I looked at the chart and just went blank. Uh.... turn and then turn again and something else... uh... :-) Really locked up. It was an NDB approach and I managed to get headed back inbound OK (not great) but flew through the inbound bearing, thought I had turned the wrong way to intercept (inbound to a NDB - can you imagine? The damn needle points the way and I STILL second guessed myself!), corrected the WRONG way because I was right to begin with and by the time I figured it out I was blowing by the missed fix about 40 degrees off. There was no ambiguity or subjective ruling by the DPE - I clearly blew it. In the real world, I would have gone to the hold and thought it through for a couple laps and made it fine on the second try. But the ride is one chance...

The deal is, you can repeat what you miss at a reduced examiner cost one time within 60 days. Otherwise you have to do the entire thing over. So I decided to try and get some more of the ride out of the way so I didn't have to redo the whole thing.

We went partial panel; unusual attitudes went fine, then headed for Big Lake for a partial panel VOR approach. BUT... it was getting dark and the compass light didn't work. You need the compass partial panel because the gyro heading indicator is covered up. Anyway, after some gyrations wandering about, trying to find a flashlight in my backpack (which I turned out not to have anyway) I said "Forget it - this isn't happening tonight". I maybe should have flown the ILS... I could have gotten ATC to give me my heading, set the heading indicator by that and the ILS would be easy without the compass, but I'd had enough so I didn't ask him if he'd want to try it.

Now.... as soon as I'd called it off the guy became all supportive and conciliatory. Told me I should get my commercial since I had so much time and how easy it would be for me since I was a good pilot.... I'm thinking "WTF? you just got through telling me I'm a slacker that lacks professionalism and I blew this ride but now you want me to fly for money?" Whatever. How about I give you the commercial DPE fee and you just get the hell out of my life? lol.

I was pretty disappointed when we got back on the ground. He told me he knew I could do it, explained how we'd retest and committed to working with my schedule (I'm out of town a lot) to make it happen in the time frame. Like he decided he'd pet the puppy after booting it across the room, lol. Although he did tell me that taking off 6 feet to the left of the centerline was further evidence of my lack of professionalism. Got that last dig in!

So, what I got out of the way was the oral and the unusual attitudes. I need to re-ride and demonstrate 3 different approaches, one partial panel, and a hold. No problem :-)

This will have a happy ending, one way or another. I'll pass the re-ride or I'll take a couple months off and do the whole thing again... with a different DPE.

But for now I have more dual scheduled so I can convince my Instructor that I'll pass on the 2nd try, and I'll be back in town in a month to do just that.