Monday, December 12, 2011

Instrument win!

Passed my instrument checkride today! The writeup is going to be way shorter than the one for private, mainly because this checkride was easier.

YES, IT IS POSSIBLE. Instrument can be easier than private. I'm not sure how, but it was.

I've noticed a few trends in my checkride-taking.

1. The weather will be terrible on the first scheduled day. This day will be followed by perfect weather.
2. Someone somewhere is going to write on my paperwork that I am a guy.
3. I need a checkride hug from someone I've flown with.
4. There must be a stuffed animal in my flight bag, named after either an instructor or an airplane.

So, first, I had to scare Eric by jumping at him for my hug because I was freaking out so much. He was in a meeting and left for a bit to come make sure I hadn't hyperventilated into a coma. I felt very much like a lost puppy. "It's okay! You're okay! You can do it! You'll be fine!" "MYERRRRRR."

My checkride examiner was Mike Rogan. He's really laid back and treats everything more like a conversation than a question-and-answer thing. I've heard this is fairly true of most instrument checkrides; it's about scenario-based stuff and not as much have-you-memorized-all-the-things (memorizing all the things is so you can pull them out of your brain when you need them). He had me plan a one-way cross country to Wenatchee. It has some interestingly awkward approaches. We talked about why I picked the one I did (VOR/DME-C because the ILS is hard to plan and not really for us anyway), what altitude to use, why we never get to have Auburn's departure procedure, and some things on the approach plates. He had Jeppesen charts and plates, so when he was asking me about a few things like what did each missed approach point correspond to, I just looked at him funny until he showed me that what he was talking about was only on his charts.

The oral took about an hour, and most of that was going over paperwork and talking about planes and telling stories. "I don't know what to say; you know all the answers." "Oh geez I wouldn't say that." I learned some cool side notes like how CFIIs stay current and how many magnets are in the compass (four). He definitely likes old school instrument flying more than the new GPS stuff.

For the flight, we did the ILS, same approach as a localizer, and GPS, all runway 17 at Tacoma Narrows. The ILS was fine except when they threw me for a loop by telling me to fly the Narrows One Departure for the missed procedure. I didn't have it handy and I don't have it memorized, but the examiner was nice about it and found the one in his approach plates and just read it off to me. Did that, went back to hold at SCENN to get ready for the localizer. They were really busy, so I figured sitting in a holding pattern for a bit would make someone's life easier. It helped. I did partial panel holding for maybe one turn around the pattern, then he gave me the instruments back for the approach. I asked for the published missed out of habit, then I had to go and fly it wrong. I missed the part that said to fly a 290 heading until intercepting the radial off of Seattle, but he didn't fail me for it, just asked where we were going and mentioned it again on the ground.

(If you're following this really closely, you're going to want to open this in a new tab: )

The GPS was where some stuff almost happened. The controller asked if I wanted to start off of JUYCU or FAVDA; I requested JUYCU, but he ended up giving us FAVDA. Problem is, FAVDA is only an intermediate fix, and I couldn't make the GPS sequence from there because it's not an IAF and I'm not magical when it comes to working this thing. You'd think that with all my computer skills I would be a wizard at the GPS, but I spend most of my time arguing with it about why I'm right and it needs to stop being derpy. So the controller told me to go direct FAVDA and start the approach from there. I could get the GPS to either activate the approach - which would have taken us back to JUYCU - or go to FAVDA, which required discontinuing the approach. I switched it back and forth two or three times, then I remembered I could make it do vectors-to-final and fixed all my problems. Well, that's life. No checkride is perfect. We circled to land, did a decent touch-and-go, and ran away back to Auburn. We did unusual attitudes on the way home. Nothing major.

All in all, it was pretty chill. I highly recommend Mike as an examiner. I called Ross and told him how I did. He sounded tired. I think his new job is already zapping the life out of him. Silly instructors. Don't you know that if you stick around and just fly with me, you don't have to do stuff like that?

I got a stuffed sea lion at the zoo the day before yesterday and named it Ross. I sent actual Ross a picture and he was very happy. He was also texting me while he was in class. This must be difficult to do when there are only three people in the class.