Check-ride Oral Busted…
Going Around!

keep-calm-and-go-around-12Bad news folks…  I busted my commercial check-ride yesterday. Although the day started off very promising, with me full of confidence and a good night’s sleep, when the line of questioning turned to the examiners favorite style of scenario-based, I quickly started to get confused, frustrated and panicked – not fun places when you are talking aviation. It became clear pretty fast that the examiner was going to have to work really hard to extract the knowledge from my head in this manner, and I often started second-guessing my own answers, even when they were right. All to say that it was a pretty raw adventure and one that left me feeling like I had been put through a meat grinder.

During the debrief with the examiner and my instructor, it was really disheartening that I fell victim to this kind of examination when I did have so much information tucked into the recesses of my mind. However as the examiner pointed out, if as pilots, we can’t find a way to access that “stock” information and use it to dissect the situation at hand, its not all that helpful. I also got a bit chastised for being so prepared for the exam, with all my materials and study notes at hand, but not using them! As this is an “open book” test, the examiner fully expected me to use all available resources when needed to confirm my answers and help refresh my memory as necessary. Having had very few exams of this nature in the past, it still isn’t top of mind for me to access the materials when they are needed and that’s another thing the examiner reinforced, never be afraid to draw on all resources you have at your disposal both on the ground in pre-flight and in the air. This is why a pilots’ ipad is never far from their reach and they are usually traveling with a few aviation reference books in their flight bag.

After the examiner left, I spent another couple hours with my instructor further analyzing the day’s events and starting to formulate a plan for the next go-around. I also came to the conclusion that if I think of this merely as a go-around, then its not nearly as painful as calling it a fail. You see, go-around is a term used in aviation when a landing can’t be safety met and in the big picture that’s exactly what yesterday was, a big go-around. When executing a go-around, the pilot carefully overflies the runway, evaluating what went wrong and then setting up properly for a perfectly executed traffic pattern to line up and perform the landing again. Starting today, I am flying over the runway, quickly licking my wounds and preparing for the next phase, the traffic pattern to do it all over again.

Over the next few days, I’ll be working with my instruction to fly that perfect traffic pattern as we solidify the core concepts that I had troubles accessing during the exam and fleshing those out with some of our own scenario-based questioning so that I am able to break the problems down and mentally work them through piece by piece drawing from the knowledge base I have worked so hard to develop.

Tower, Travis is going around!

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