Private Pilot Training Done!

This morning’s flight marked the end of my flight training for my private pilot license. With all maneuvers performed perfectly again and three smooth landings, my instructor has officially signed me off for my check-ride flight Tuesday morning. Tomorrow we’ll meet up for a few hours of final preparations during a ground briefing where we’ll review my flight plan, navigation log, and do a once over of all the ground materials.

I have prepared for myself a mind map that I’ll use to guide the oral portion of the exam so I don’t forget any of the salient points and to show the examiner how I have been able to interweave the aviation concepts in my own mind. I have been told this examiner likes to approach the oral more as an aeronautical chit chat session to ferret out what the students know and to help identify areas of weakness that he can help fill the gaps with some of his hard earned wisdom. Apparently the examiner has even had to make real-life emergency landing, in a urban setting no less, and lived to tell the harrowing tale. In any case, am very much looking forward to the experience.

Exactly two months ago today, I walked bleary eyed into the training center at 4:30 am filled with a mix of optimizing and trepidation for my first flight. Almost immediately after completing that flight I began to be filled with fear, fear of an inflight failure resulting in harm, fear of letting my instructor and my family down, and fear of the dreaded check-ride that I knew was only a few months away. Even as this day neared, I wondered how I would feel going into the check-ride, and now I can honestly say I am completely ready and even excited for it. Do I know absolutely everything about aviation, not a chance, but do I know the materials required for this portion of my training, I believe i do, and more importantly I am committed to learning more every day. As many experts say, a good pilot is always learning.

Even looking back at just this last week, it’s been an incredible ride and I am very grateful for the self-reflection time I took last week to get my head screwed on right and to return committed to my training. I went into every single one of my flights and ground sessions this week with confidence and surprised even myself with how I performed.

PS. I forgot to mention that we finished off today’s flight with two intentional spins to show me what can happen in an aggregated uncoordinated stall. It was a pretty freaky experience as my instructor took the controls and put is into a power on stall and used full aft pressure and right rudder to basically out us into an inverted attitude that allowed the plane to start a clockwise spinning tumble straight down. The using a quick spin recovery maneuver or power neutral, ailerons neutral, opposite rudder (to the spin direction), and a hard forward motion on the yoke (elevator) the plane righted itself within two turns and we only ended up loosing 500 ft in altitude. Basically the Cessna 172 plane is designed (with dihedral wings) to almost right it self from the spin simply by pulling the power to idle. The crazy thing was that despite being inverted and then spinning straight down, even the baggage in the backseat remained in place as the maneuver is just barely over 1g.

Here is a video of a spin and recovery.

Here is my mind map for the oral exam…

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Here is a look at the route I have mapped out for the practical exam…
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