Checkride Fears

Paul Hamilton is one of the first persons to become a DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) for sport pilots. As a full-time author and sport pilot expert, he writes books and produces DVD's for Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA). Now Paul has graciously agreed to answer your questions here. Thanks Paul! For more information about Paul, please visit www.Paul-Hamilton.com and www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com.

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bryancobb
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Location: Cartersville Georgia

Checkride Fears

Postby bryancobb » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:10 pm

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to say a few words about the Sport Pilot segment of general aviation, and the attitudes of students, instructors, and examiners, as it relates to someone's FIRST experience taking a checkride.
I took my initial Private Pilot Checkride, for Airplane SEL, in 1985, at Peter O'Knight, in Tampa, with Mr. James Leslie.
I took my Private Pilot add-on Checkride for Rotorcraft Helicopter, in 1993, at Peachtree Dekalb in Atlanta, with Mr. Rich Hull.
I took my Commercial Pilot Checkride for Rotorcraft Helicopter, in 1995, at Fulton County Charlie Brown in Atlanta, with Mr. Mike Chumley.
I took my Instrument Airplane Checkride, in 1997, at Polk County Cedartown GA, with Mr. John Mann.
I took my Commercial Pilot Airplane SEL Checkride, in 1997, at Polk County Cedartown GA, with Mr. John Mann.
I took my Initial CFI Sport Pilot Airplane SEL, in 2007, at Cartersville GA, with Mr. Ben Methvin.
I have Six Checkrides with five different examiners under my belt so I think my opinions are valid.

I'm going to put Mr. Methvin in "column A" alone, and all the others in "column B."

Then I'm going to list things that pop in my head that pertain to "A" versus "B," for the purpose of trying to contrast the "SPORT CHECKRIDE EXPERIENCE" with "PRIVATE AND ABOVE CHECKRIDE EXPERIENCE."

A
PTS in-hand and by-the-book
Very Formal in Nature (Friendly Conversation but somewhat formal)
Went by FAA checlist to conduct every aspect of test
Checking off squares in required PTS items to insure completeness
Based on THE FAA's OPINION of wheither I was a safe, knowledgeable pilot or not
Oral Seemed to treat each area of questioning as pass/fail criteria per PTS
DPE acted as if he must conform to the FAA's idea of how to conduct a checkride
DPE Avoided anything that could be percieved as TEACHING

B
PTS nowhere to be found
Very Informal in nature, "Go preflight and I'll be out in a minute."
Conducted "Off-The-Cuff" and never used any referencees to FAA Pubs
No square checking was apparent
Based on THE EXAMINER's OPINION of wheither I was a safe, knowledgeable pilot or not
Oral seemed to be for the purpose of getting an "OVERALL PICTURE" of my knowledge level to be a safe pilot
DPE acted as if the FAA trusted his opinion as an expert and didn't try to conform to any FAA suggested format
DPE was enthusiastic about increasing my understanding of a maneuver, procedure, or topic

My OPINION is that Sport Pilot applicants are MUCH more nervous about their practical tests than are Private and above applicants.

A and B above clearly show why. I think Sport DPE's could really benefit from adopting the attitude that they are an expert, and they have the experience and knowledge to evaluate someone's piloting skills, without letting the FAA's "I can teach a monkey to fly a spacecraft" checklists, drive the conduct of the checkride.
Bryan Cobb
Sport Pilot CFI
Commercial/Instrument Airplane
Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter
Cartersville, Ga
bryandcobb@att.net

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Paul Hamilton
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Postby Paul Hamilton » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:05 pm

Wow. How you got to "I think Sport DPE's could really benefit from adopting the attitude that they are an expert, and they have the experience and knowledge to evaluate someone's piloting skills, without letting the FAA's "I can teach a monkey to fly a spacecraft" checklists, drive the conduct of the checkride."

This statement undermines the complete system.

If you are a qualified pilot, you know that Checklists .....

Even though we/DPE's use checklists to assure all the areas are covered, we have to assess the rote, understanding (maybe monkey level), application and correlation to pass an applicant for a pilot license. Not sure exactly since I do not teach monkeys, but I would believe monkeys cannot get to the application level and surely not the correlation level would be my “guess”.

I just got done with a DPE seminar. I heard of plenty of your Option B people going to jail, paying high fines or getting their DPE revoked for not doing their job the FAA has asked. In some cases, applicants who took checkrides with your Class B DPE were revoked and the applicants were left high and dry. They studied long and hard, spent all this money, took a checkride and passed it, and later found out that the checkride was invalid and all their time and effort was wasted and they would have to start over again. If they felt less nervous during the checkride, I hope it was worth it to them. Anyone who took a checkride with your Class B DPE, if what you say is true, may have their license revoked in the future for an invalid checkride.

If the DPE's on your list actually operated as you say like Class B, they are liable for the rest of their life and I am sure they will not be happy to have you report them as not doing their job. Who are you trying to help? If an applicant is scared of a checkride because the DPE will use a checklist and operate as your Class A, so be it.

If DPE’s are going to their 2 year DPE training and taking it seriously, they will be operating as Class A as you describe which is how all DPE's are being taught to do their job.

If you can find one DPE who will say they operate like Class B, I would be surprised.

Please talk with your listed Class B DPE's and see if they agree with our opinions. I am willing to listen to their experience and opinions but I think you are over reacting to your Class A type checkride.

Everyone is nervous doing a checkride, even the DPE's who have to do one every year.
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.
See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites

bryancobb
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Location: Cartersville Georgia

Paul You took me all wrong.

Postby bryancobb » Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:26 am

I am not saying that the "B" DPE's didn't go by a PTS and use the FAA's checklist to make sure all the bases were covered. It just was not visible and it wasn't aparent to me that it was being used at all. This had the effect of making my "B" checkrides MUCH LESS FORMAL, which in-turn, don't give them the reputation of being intimidating and stressful.

I am quite sure that if unsafe performance were to reveal itself as a problem with the large group of pilots who were lexamined by the "B" DPE's I named, the FAA would act.

I have been very close to the FAA during the last 20+ years. I have not tried to avoid them. I consider the FAA my friend.
I was a owner of a 40 y/o certified helicopter and physically went to the FSDO to have my records reviewed to get a replacement Airworthiness Certificate. I had to prove to them that I didn't build it from "pieces." I did most all of the work on it myself and they knew that too. It was inspected by an AI.
I worked closely with, helping an ASI in Texas, write an AD on the inspection of Brantly tail rotor drive shafts.
I have gotten 2 Experimental Amateur-Builts' Airworthiness Certificate by "the FEDS," not a DAR."
I went through the Special Issuance process to get my medical back after a suicide atempt in the 80's.
I even went through an INSPECTION of my shop at my house, by a FSDO ASI because an ex friend complained that I was doing an annual on a certified helicopter, even though I am NOT an A&P, and that I installed uncertified auto store Fafnir bearings in the tail rotor.

I have NEVER had a single Violation issued for flying or other actvities.
(The Fafnir bearings were in auto store boxes but came from Brantly Helicopters and I had the receipt. My work was being inspected by an AI)

As you can see, I don't mind complying with the rules of a bureaucracy, buy I am just trying to help come up with ideas to help keep the Sport Checkride from getting a "REPUTATION" that makes applicants worry worry worry lose sleep lose sleep lose sleep, more so than GA applicants do. It's just not neccesary.

I AM NOT REPORTING ANY OF THESE GUYS' NON-COMPLIANCE. I AM QUITE SURE ALL COULD PROVE THAT THE PRACTICAL EXAMS THEY CONDUCT ARE BY-THE-BOOK. I AM JUST SAYING IT IS NOT VISIBLE TO THE APPLICANT AND THE RIDES ARE ARE A LOT LESS FORMAL.

By-The-Way, Rest in peace Rich Hull, he was killed in a mid air collision, at a towered field (FTY) in FEB 1995, in VFR wx, while giving an IFR helicopter checkride. He called out "missed approach" which required a climbing left turn as the initial action. There was a C-152 with IP and Student turning base to final on an adjacent parallel runway. Neither could see each other. FOUR SOULS DIED.
LESSON-TOWER CONTROLLERS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING TWO VFR AIRCRAFT SEPARATED IN VFR WX
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

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Paul Hamilton
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Postby Paul Hamilton » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:02 am

Bryan,

It sounds like A performed a checkride exactly as the FAA asks and the B's did almost everything the FAA is trying to change. This may eventually come around to haunt them and all the applicants/pilots they passed including you.

You as a CFI representing the feds, you specifically listed names and areas that these DPE's did not follow FAA procedures. You have pretty much said that there is a question as to whether your checkrides are invalid by not being performed per FAA procedures. As a CFI you are required to know these procedures as specified in the PTS introduction.

If you want to give applicants something to worry and be nervous about, than it is an invalid checkride where their licenses can be revoked as you suggest DPE's do per items in B.

How it works is that everything is fine until there is a problem. Than the lawyers and the FAA dig in and find claims such as yours and then the DPE's are investigated for performing invalid checkrides. They go right to the DPE and the applicants and ask if the checkride was performed as you specified.

I do hope and assume you are exaggerating here a little bit to prove a point. It is hard to believe your claims are valid for this many checkrides and this many DPE’s. If I were you, I would be worried about going on public record as you have with these claims.

The statement I remember that sticks in my mind from my last DPE training is "everything is OK until someone scratches the paint"
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.

See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites

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Paul Hamilton
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Postby Paul Hamilton » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:22 pm

All that said above aside, here is my suggestion that works well for anyone about how to ease fears of a checkride.

Simply do some training before hand with the examiner. Some DPE's do, some do not. Nothing wrong with going up with an examiner before the checkride for flight instruction. I highly suggest it. This does two things.

First the examiner acting as a CFI can instruct, provide tips on how to pass the checkride, go over some of the maneuvers. The applicant gets used to the aircraft and flying in the area. Any areas the applicant is weak on can be worked on and fixed.

Second, the applicant gets used to the examiner as a person/CFI, and not the big bad "by the book" FAA examiner.

This makes a huge difference for the applicant to ease fears.

Yes during a checkride the DPE must wear a different hat and go by the book to provide consistent standards. It must be understood that the DPE is designated in place of the FAA and therefore cannot make up their own rules. They simple follow the PTS so in theory, every checkride is the same.

This is a suggestion for the applicant to ask the examiner and for the recommending CFI to suggest.
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.

See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites

bryancobb
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:35 pm
Location: Cartersville Georgia

I respect you

Postby bryancobb » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:36 pm

Paul,
Of course I am exagerating "a little" about my group of "B" folks.

The PRINCIPLE is what I'm getting at here.

I doubt you or anyone can produce a single individual that had their checkrde "invalidated" after the "paint got scratched."

I have heard of FEW pilots who were required to be retrained after they were violated by the FAA for safety or reckless operation.

I have never even heard where they went back to the examiner who gave their flight test to try put some of the blame on him.

This is the kind of hypothetical discussion that makes the lawyers happy.

Give me some names of examiners that you know or read about who were identified as violators and written up. This scenario is very unlikely.

Paul, you are a very sharp guy. I have monitored your path to where you are, over the months and years. I recommend your writings to everybody I talk to about Sport stuff. I highly respect you.

Just please read between the lines of what I have written in this thread. That is, lightening up the atmosphere in checkrides you and other DPE's administer, would help keep these aviators, early in their flight careers from being terrified of their checkrides. By the way, was the seminar you just completed conducted and taught by the FED's?
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

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Paul Hamilton
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Postby Paul Hamilton » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:00 pm

One word of advice I give checkride applicants is to not keep saying thinks that dig them deeper and present new questions that can make things worse. I am feeling you want to take this to the next level and get the FAA involved. Is this what you want?

You said: I doubt you or anyone can produce a single individual that had their checkride "invalidated" after the "paint got scratched."

OK I do not remember any names specifically but you can contact David Chadwick at 405 954-3662 at the FAA david.chadwick@faaa.gov who is a principal operations inspector who provided the specific names. I am sure they would be happy to assist you in understanding. If no response contact Kelly Sweeten at 405 954 3654 KELLY.SWEETEN@FAA.GOV or their boss Larry West 405.954.8418 Branch manager of the DPE Designee Standarzation Branch of the FAA.

Foreword them your questions, and it would be helpful your original claims, and I am sure they will be happy to provide you some specific names since you question my statement.

If I do not hear back from you that you called the FAA directly and got the specific cases names you question, I will be happy to assist you and forward the information on so you can see for yourself and follow through and get the specific names and answers you want. I question why you want to take this to the next level and get the FAA involved.

To answer your last question "By the way, was the seminar you just completed conducted and taught by the FED's?"
YES, this is a required seminar by the feds for all DPE's to represent them. Each DPE must attend one every 2 years in addition to the annual visit/checkride DPE's are required to take.
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.

See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites

bryancobb
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:35 pm
Location: Cartersville Georgia

Let's Get Along

Postby bryancobb » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:42 pm

Paul,
I am not an escalator. I believe in things being accomplished at the lowest possible echelon.
My original post was not because of a bad experience I had on a checkride. I went to my Sport CFI ride with Ben Methvin, with 100% confidence, and I feel like he was very impressed. He and I are longtime friends. He gave me no special favors on the test. I brought the goods and he saw it. Speak with him.
The original post was because of the discussions I read on forums, from Sport Applicants that are in total fear about their Sport Checkrides.
I just felt I could offer a little insight into why this exists with the Sport Ticket and (I feel) not with any of the other levels of pilot certificates.
I DON'T KNOW WHERE IT GOT OFF TRACK AND WE WIND UP CHOSING SIDES AND "FUSSIN" ON A KEYBOARD.
We are on the SAME team here. The folks at the Ok City whose business card you hold are good folks. You and I are good folks. Don't be offended that I have a different obsrvation from a different vantage point than you.

As I said, the purpose of my original post was to offer some insight that might eliminate the case of nerves that I see in Sport applicants.

Telling a story about some pilot somewhere, getting his license revoked and the examiner fined or jailed who gave him his ride, because the FAA Practical Exam Procedures were not visible to the aplicant during the checkride, has the exact opposite affect fom what I was trying to accomplish.

Now ... lets be friends. I assure you this is my last post in this thread.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

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Paul Hamilton
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Location: Reno/Tahoe Nevada

Postby Paul Hamilton » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:22 am

Bryan,
A little difference of opinion never hurts. Thanks for understanding we are on the same side and want the same thing, less fears for the checkride. I do understand your point and will try to help find some solutions that I know work. Please understand I am providing my perspective as an examiner, dealing directly with the FAA sport pilot perspective, the CFI’s and the applicants trying to get through. Here I will wrap up our differences and move on to my four points of how to eliminate “checkride fears”.

First you must understand, as an examiner, and the moderator for this topic, I felt responsible to point out that “by the book” is what should happen for a number of reasons I pointed out. Yes I have heard two reactions of applicants going to the “informal” type B checkride. Either “that was really easy” or “my instructor made me learn all that stuff and I was not tested on any of it.” Here the instructor ends up being the bad guy for a perceived “over preparing” the applicant.

Overall, we both have heard something completely different of sport verses private and above checkrides. I have heard the sport pilot checkride is easier and less stressful than the private and above. How could this be? I think this is because the private and above checkride stories are from long ago when the checkrides were less formal, and the sport pilot checkrides are more recent. Your (Bryan) personal experience is an example of this. The FAA is tightening up lately as a result of the attorneys for all DPE’s to go by the book. I think the industry has made the sport pilot ticket seem so easy that the applicants feel he/she does not have to know much or fly since it is “not a real pilots license” as some of the old timers say. Everyone is focused on this minimum 20 hours for a sport pilot certificate and thinks this is all it takes to earn a FAA pilot certificate.

So to summarize my opinion, and what the FAA is telling the DPE,s of the A verses the B type checkrides, the checkrides should be done per the book and not informal. It is not healthy for applicants to get the impression that the checkride will be informal as the “B type” is described. Enough said.

Getting back to the real goal here, is how to reduce the fear of checkrides. Here are my suggestions. A note on terminology, the FAA does not want us to use the word “fail” during the checkride because it is too harsh. It is “unsatisfactory performance on the task”. I am going to use the word “fail” here since it is easier.

First, if you fail a checkride, so what, no big deal. It does seem like the end of the world as we all know it and you have to explain it to everyone. It costs time and money. But in the big picture it is no big deal. No one got hurt too bad. No blood was spilled. Yes it feels really bad and humiliating at first, believe me I know. It turns out to be another one of those “and there I was” stories. This is a complete subject on it’s own I could talk about but the point is, but no big deal. You get the additional training required and take it again.

Second is what I covered above, take some training from the examiner, if he/she will provide before the checkride. The FAA does not encourage this, but there are no rules against it. The job of the examiner is to simply check the CFI who trained the applicant for a brief “snapshot in time” to make sure the applicant meets the PTS standards.

Third is for the recommending CFI to instruct in all the tasks and instill confidence in the applicant. The CFI can talk to the examiner. Ask specifics of each task and compare to the applicants knowledge and skills. Come to find out after some checkride “failures” or “pink slipped” applicants, the instructor knew the applicant was not prepared but the applicant insisted on going for the checkride.

Forth is the most important. Be prepared for the checkride. If you know your stuff and are prepared you will not fail it. Here is an example of the extremes applicants go into checkrides. “ I am so scared I hope I make it” or “this will be fun to show someone who cares my stuff”.
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.

See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites

Jeff Tipton
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Postby Jeff Tipton » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:01 am

We try to prep our students to pass the check ride, but occasionally we have one that is nervous about failing. The one thing that seems to get the student by is a question, "What is the worst that can happen". Ultimately the student will realize that the worst case is to fail and receive the dreaded pink slip, yea I know they are white now.

As we tell the student, if you do fail, the pink skip will show the areas that you are deficient in. Get back with the instructor polish those areas and retest. Typically they will only fail this time if they still show deficiency in an area on the pink slip.

The other areas have already been passed and only if you demonstrate unsafe operations in the other areas not on the pink slip, would you possibly be failed for the areas already passed.

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dstclair
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Postby dstclair » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:58 pm

Jeff says it pretty clearly -- the checkride is not an 'all or nothing'. If by some chance the student doesn't perform a maneuver to the appropriate level of mastery, then they come back on another day to do those things they 'failed'.

Case in point. My examiner didn't like my NDB approach for my IFR checkride. In my defense, the ADF was flakey (eventually failed a couple months later) so following it was a challenge at best. Anyway, I got a pink slip for the NDB approach. I went up for 0.9 hrs with my instructor the next day to get official instruction and then spent 0.8 hrs with the examiner two days later. No big deal.
dave

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Paul Hamilton
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Postby Paul Hamilton » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:50 pm

It should be noted that if a task is performed unsuccessful (failed), and the examiner tells the checkride is unsuccessful, the examiner asks the applicant if they want to continue the test. Make sure you (applicant) pull yourself together and say "yes" so you can do all the other tasks. If you say no, then you only successfully passed the tasks you performed before the failure. You may as well go through the rest of the tasks since you are there. Be prepared, have it in your mind what to do.

Again as said above, it is not the end of the world.
Paul is a Sport Pilot CFI/DPE and the expert for ASA who writes the books and produces the DVD's for all pilots flying light sport aircraft.

See www.SportAviationCenter.com www.Sport-Pilot-Training.com and www.BeASportPilot.com to Paul's websites


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