The Skills Test

3 months, 18 days ago

The skills test both excites and terrifies me, whilst it means the last step, it also means a light at the end of the tunnel…and at the end of the tunnel lies exciting flying (without relying on instructors and my flying school!). The day before I got a call from the examiner, Barry, he’s a really nice guy and has explained what will happen before so I was prepared. He told me we were flying to Bishops Castle for the first leg of the navigation section, then onto Stone for the second leg (expect a diversion). He never told me where the diversion was, so I was pouring over the map, trying to plan every last little bit of where it could be from and to. I ended up staying up quite late, I tried to play some Zelda but just couldn’t stop thinking about what lay ahead of me. I was cross checking my planning again and again, thinking I must have forgotten something important (I hadn’t it turned out).

The Morning

I learned from the qualifying cross country that running helped, I was up at 6:00am (which has become my morning routine), ran my usual 2.5 miles, cold showered and drank a pot of tea whilst I checked the MET Office General Aviation website for METARS, TAFS, Winds Aloft, NOTAMS, Fuel Required and fiddling with my stupid flight computer trying to work out the wind correction angles. Everything looked ok, so Emily tried to get me to just relax a bit and play a game…which I did for around 15 minutes until I ended up just driving to the airport.

Before The Test

Whilst I thought I was calm, as soon as I walked into the flying school it just hit me again that this is the test that was the decider of if I got my license or not! I tried to chill myself out, but talking to the other people at the school just made me more nervous…it’s something about being told it’ll be fine that makes you think it wont be, even more.

The Test

The test consisted of…

  1. Navigation – After checking the plane out and going by the book through all the relevant checks, including a “Do you want the safety briefing for engine failures during take off?”, we began the navigation going to all the relevant way points on the way south to Bishops Castle.
  2. Diversion – The second leg had a diversion from Much Wenlock, I got told to figure out the heading for Chirk (a little microlight field).
  3. Manouveres – Consisting of…
    • Stalls.
    • Steep Turns, 45° not 60° since we both wanted to keep our breakfast down.
    • Spiral Dive Recovery.
    • Simulated Instrument Conditions (looking inside with a map at the windscreen so you can’t see out).
    • Practice Forced Landings (PFL).
      • Plus an engine failure after take off (EFATO) on climb out from the last PFL.
  4. Circuits – Consisting of…
    • A Go Around.
    • A Flapless Landing.
    • A Normal Landing.

That was it, it was over and we “called it a pass”. Which I was shocked about since the wind picked up and made my circuits a little rough around the edges…I assured him my landings were LOADS better when noone was watching of course. I began the application the evening of the skills test. The CAA charged me £200 for the initial application…a little steep but it had to be done.

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