Anatomy of a Checkride

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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spooky981
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Postby spooky981 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 9:31 pm

Thanks for all the help guys, things are a lot clearer now. But I do need help with one more thing. Evaluate my explanation of airspaces:

Class A: Above 18,000 ft. Do not enter.
Class B: Very busy airports represented by an upside down wedding cake.
Class C: Busy airports with a control tower. Must contact ATC prior to entry. 20 mile radius, from floor to 4000 ft.
Class D: Lower traffic airports that have a control tower. Must contact ATC prior to entry. Floor to 2,500 feet.

The last two are expecially confusing because, despite having a definition of them, I have no idea why there's a difference.

Class E: Surface to 700 or 1200 feet
Class G: All airspace that doesn't fall into any of the other categories.

How'd I do?

And what airspace type questions can I anticipate on my check ride?

comperini
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Postby comperini » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:19 pm

spooky981 wrote:Class B: Very busy airports represented by an upside down wedding cake.


Not always a "wedding cake". It's dimensions are whatever the chart says it is. Remember thin blue line.

spooky981 wrote:Class C: Busy airports with a control tower. Must contact ATC prior to entry. 20 mile radius, from floor to 4000 ft.


Often, but not mandatory to be exactly 20 miles, and 4000 feet. It's dimensions are whatever the chart says it is. Remember, thin magenta line.

spooky981 wrote:Class D: Lower traffic airports that have a control tower. Must contact ATC prior to entry. Floor to 2,500 feet.


OPERATING control tower. Not always exactly 2500 feet, and not always a perfect circle or 4-5 mile radius. It's dimensions are whatever the chart says it is.

spooky981 wrote:Class E: Surface to 700 or 1200 feet


For the typical "fuzzy magenta" or "fuzzy blue" lines, the FLOOR of the class E generally starts at 700/1200. But there is class E with other floor/ceilings, too.

bryancobb
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Location: Cartersville Georgia

Get The Full Understanding

Postby bryancobb » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:19 am

THIS IS ONE KNOWLEDGE AREA WHERE YOUR GOAL SHOULD NOT BE TO GET THROUGH THE CHECKRIDE!
**This is an important topic that you will deal with EVERY time you fly away from your home airport (or maybe even AT your home airport).

If you can muster up $20, get the King Airspace Review DVD.
That presentation gave me more of an understanding of the where's and why's of the national airspace system.

I watch it again every year or so, to refresh my memory. It is 100X better than the way it is usually presented.

YOUR GOAL SHOULD BE TO UNDERSTAND THE TOPIC WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW TO DECIDE WHAT AIRSPACE YOU WANT TO STAY OUT OF, TO KNOW HOW TO STAY OUT OF IT, AND TO NOT BE INTIMIDATED IF YOU WANT TO BE IN A PARTICULAR TYPE OF AIRSPACE.

A second reason to understand it well is to know where you may expect a military jet to ZOOM up on you, at less than 1000 AGL, going 400 KTS, on an instrument flight plan!!!!

This might be somewhere where you don't want to find yourself! By the time you spot them, they will have already passed by and scared the heck out of you. OR HIT YOU!
Bryan Cobb
Sport Pilot CFI
Commercial/Instrument Airplane
Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter
Cartersville, Ga
bryandcobb@att.net

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gmohr
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Postby gmohr » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:26 am

I took and passed my check ride on the 12th of October at KGIF with
Mr. Charles (Chuck) Brown. It was different from some but also very
relaxed and thorough.

1) How long is the check ride? 1.5 hours
2) What is the breakdown of the check ride?
Here is how mine went---
45 minutes for oral and written pre-checkride test,
typical preflight WITH checklist, (BE VERY THOROUGH)

I DID NOT have a normal X-Country. He actually had me plan a X
X-Country from KSRQ - KGIF and I was required to show him my flight
plan and I had to open and FILE a VFR flight plan both to and from the
check ride. He then questioned me about my route and check points. I
showed him my documents for the flight plan(I use the ASA Flight Plan
sheet)

Started with 4 take off and all the landings to full stop... he was a stickler
for being straight down the runway.

ALL flight maneuvers with 4 stalls, (power off, power on and
accellerated stalls to the left and right).

Then on to emergency procedures, simulated engine out and set up for
landing. I found a nice strip of grass that looked like it could have been a
turf runway... USE YOUR CHECKLISTS!!!!! He actually pulled the power
and did not return the throttle to me until we were 500' AGL.

At that point he said lets head back and I punched in a direct in the GPS
to KGIF and made a nice landing and taxied back. He continued to
question me right up until I shut the engine down and accepted his offer
of 5gals of fuel and secured the aircraft as the last skill before the
handshake.

3) How deep into the cross country flight do you typically get before
diverting? I flew my X-country there.. although now that I think about it
he did question me during the maneuvers about where Bartow and
Lakeland were. (I had my charts but I also had my gps and iPad). He
also said he was listening to me talk with Tampa and make my
announcements coming into KGIF.

4) What surprises will be thrown at me? Be prepared for the diversion
and engine out. They will try to distract you. Make sure you explain in
your pre-flight brief about a sterile cockpit during take off and landings.

5) Will I be asked to preform every single flight and takeoff/landing
maneuver, or do they just pick a few? Yes you will do all of them or at
least I did.

6) Where do most people blow the check ride? Consistantly exceeding
the tolerances and not correcting. It is one thing to momentarily get
outside, but you must make corrections. Also failure to use your radio,
and check lists...

I had just over 40hrs when I took my check ride and I really knew my
airplane well. I was confident in my skills and knew that I could fly the
plane to standards and above.

I did watch Paul Hamilton's Check Ride DVD and the King's Check Ride
course. Both were real good for reassuring me that I knew the material
for the oral/written.

Best of Luck!!
Gene
SP-A 10/12/2010
Gene Mohr
Sport Pilot Upgrading to Private
180hrs and counting

ArionAv8or
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Re: Anatomy of a Checkride

Postby ArionAv8or » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:22 am

ArionAv8or wrote:
spooky981 wrote:Obviously every DPE is different so these will be based solely on your experiences.

1) How long is the check ride?
2) What is the breakdown of the check ride?
3) How deep into the cross country flight do you typically get before diverting?
4) What surprises will be thrown at me?
5) Will I be asked to preform every single flight and takeoff/landing maneuver, or do they just pick a few?
6) Where do most people blow the check ride?

That'll do for now. I'm certain your responses will incur more questions though!


1) How long is the check ride? 1.6 hours
2) What is the breakdown of the check ride? Preflight questioning - preflight - cross country - diversion - flight maneuvers - return home? 45 minutes for oral and written pre-checkride test, typical preflight WITH checklist, 15 minutes or so for flight planning and another 10 for Wx-Brief, standard takeoff to start the cross country with hitting only the second checkpoint before diversion. Simple diversion to show ability to find alternate airport, didn't actually fly all the way there. ALL flight maneuvers with 4 stalls, (power off, power on and accellerated stalls to the left and right). Once all maneuvers were completed headed home for a touch a go followed by a full stop landing. Short field and soft field TO and landings rounded out the day with securing the aircraft as the last skill before the handshake.
3) How deep into the cross country flight do you typically get before diverting? 2 checkpoints
4) What surprises will be thrown at me? Be prepared for the diversion and engine out.
5) Will I be asked to preform every single flight and takeoff/landing maneuver, or do they just pick a few? I did them all.
6) Where do most people blow the check ride? I can't speak from experience but from what I have heard watch for your +/- 100' tolerances and if you are at a controlled field make sure you contact ground when required and likewise with tower. I know a PPL student that failed his checkride because he forgot to call ground before taxi to runway.

I did my checkride with 23 total hours including 1 hour under the hood, I am sure you will do just fine.


WOW, did I call that or what? Your checkride was almost a mirror image of what I told Spooky to expect. I see he is still throwing the accelerated left and right stalls at you. I personally like Chuck and beieve he is a great DPE. He is a stickler for safety and when I was finished he told me I did a great job but pointed out things to improve my skills. Glad you passed it with flying colors Gene, but I didn't have any doubts.

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gmohr
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Postby gmohr » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:50 am

Phil,

I agree, you were spot on. Chuck was thorough and he did
catch me off guard with the turning stalls. Like you said he was very
thorough and his debrief was a learning opportunity. He critiqued areas he
felt I needed to spend time on. Since the check ride I have done just that!.

If you fly to the PTS and are SAFE and straight down the runway you
will pass his check ride.

Gene
Gene Mohr
Sport Pilot Upgrading to Private
180hrs and counting

spooky981
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Joined: Sun May 23, 2010 9:38 pm

Postby spooky981 » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:24 am

I'm within the DC SFRA and the nearby Camp David fluctuating no-fly area. So if I violate airspace, I don't get yelled at, I get a jet escort and an FBI interview.

Needless to say, I understand that airspaces are important. But prior to my knowledge test and check ride, I've been able to break all airspaces down into two functional categories: Places I can go, and places I can't go. So far that's serviced me well.

3Dreaming
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Location: noble, IL USA

Postby 3Dreaming » Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:11 pm

Spooky, for airspace I like to start at the bottom and go up.
1. Everything on the surface of the map is class "G" unless something tells you otherwise. (Magenta dashed lines for class "E", blue dashed lines for class "D", solid magenta line for class "C", and blue solid line for class "B".)
2. Class "E" airspace starts at 1200 feet AGL and goes to 17,999 unless something tells you otherwise. (See description above plus, the magenta shaded circle shows that class "E" airspace drops to 700 feet AGL, a dashed magenta line shows that the class "E" airspace goes all the way to the surface.)
3. Class "D" airspace is an airport with an operating control tower. It is marked with a dashed blue line. The altitudes will be marked on the chart. Must have two way radio communication to enter.
4. Class "C" airspace is an airport with an operating control tower plus radar service. It is marked with a magenta solid line. Must establish two way radio communication (controler must resond with your aircraft ID), and have a transponder.
5. Class "B" is the same as class "C", but a busier airport. It is marked with a solid blue line. You must be cleared into the airspace (you must hear the magic words "cleared to enter the class "B" airspace).
6. Class "A" starts at 18,000 feet. I'm not going to be flying there.

All altitudes are marked for the ceiling and floors of the class B,C,and D airspace on the map. Make sure you know all your cloud clearances for the different airspaces.

bryancobb
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Location: Cartersville Georgia

King WAY

Postby bryancobb » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:09 pm

Here's the same info 3d presented, said the KING way:
Class "A" = "A"ll aircraft must be on an IFR flight plan and talking to ATC
Class "B" = "B"ig airplanes B"ig airports B"ig egos!
Class "C" = Once a pilot "C"ommunicates with ATC and
ATC "C"ommunicates back with your n-number, you may
enter. No need to hear "Cleared to enter."
Class "D" = "D"ialog must occur between the pilot and ATC and you
must hear "Cleared to......" before coming in.
Class "E" = "E"verywhere there is CONTROLLED AIRSPACE that
is not A, B, C, or D. Controlled means ATC GUARANTEES
SEPARATION BETWEEN IFR TRAFFIC THERE so cloud
clearances and minimums increase so that an IFR plane
doesn't bust out of the bottom of a cloud and hit a VFR
plane that's close to the cloud.
Class "G" = "G"o for it! Uncontrolled so just maintain minimum safe
altitude and clearances from ground and obstructions.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

comperini
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Location: California

Re: King WAY

Postby comperini » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:50 pm

bryancobb wrote:Class "D" = "D"ialog must occur between the pilot and ATC and you must hear "Cleared to......" before coming in.


Only two-way communications are required to enter class D airspace. The "clearance" part comes into play for taxi/takeoff/landing

bryancobb
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Location: Cartersville Georgia

Right

Postby bryancobb » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:17 pm

I worded what I said wrong. Establishing communication is all that's required C or D.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

spooky981
Posts: 59
Joined: Sun May 23, 2010 9:38 pm

Postby spooky981 » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:17 pm

So if I've got this right, the difference between E and G airspace is that in E, you have access to ATC, and in G you don't?

comperini
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Location: California

Postby comperini » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:29 pm

spooky981 wrote:So if I've got this right, the difference between E and G airspace is that in E, you have access to ATC, and in G you don't?


For IFR traffic, you have separation. For the typical sport pilot, the only difference is cloud clearance requirements.

bryancobb
Posts: 371
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Location: Cartersville Georgia

Sort Of

Postby bryancobb » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:21 am

comperini wrote:
spooky981 wrote:So if I've got this right, the difference between E and G airspace is that in E, you have access to ATC, and in G you don't?


For IFR traffic, you have separation. For the typical sport pilot, the only difference is cloud clearance requirements.


Spooky,

Comperini is exactly right.

Maybe you can understand it better by thinking of it this way...

(1) VFR pilots have the responsibility of NOT running into other aircraft ALL THE TIME.
(2) IFR pilots depend on ATC to keep this from happening, unless the
weather is VFR, and then ATC AND the pilot share the responsibility.

ATC accomplishes this for IFR aircraft in 2 ways.
(3) If the plane is in RADAR contact. ATC uses RADAR to keep seperation.
(4) If the plane is NOT in an area where the plane can be seen on RADAR, ATC makes the IFR pilot report his time/position when he reaches his checkpoints and make an estimate of his ETA to his next checkpoint.
(5) ATC does not even attempt to keep planes from running into each other in Class G airspace. You are on your own, even if weather is IFR. Only STOOPID aviators will be in the clouds in Class G.
(6) If a VFR pilot asks to "Participate" (ask ATC for service such as Flight Following) this plane is treated as an IFR aircraft.


As airspace goes up the alphabet from G toward A, ATC's capability increases. Then at 10,000 ft speed limits go away and you have to stay far away from couuds to keep from geting hit by a plane exiting a cloud.

Hope this helps you understand why all the airspace types exist.

So much for that.

As it pertains to SPORT PILOTS.

THE DIFFERENCE IN CONTROLED (E up) AND UNCONTROLLED (G) AIRSPACE, IS ATC KEEPS IFR PLANES AND "PARTICIPATING" VFR PLANES SEPARATED IN E up, AND DOESN'T IN G.

1) In class G you may or may not be able to talk to ATC but YOU are the one responsible for not hitting other planes, even if they are IFR. The IFR PILOT is responsible for not hitting you.
2) In class E you may or may not be able to talk to ATC. RADAR may or may not be painting you. ATC definitely keeps IFR planes from hitting EACH OTHER. ATC doesn't keep you from hitting them or them from hitting you, unless you are PARTICIPATING (flight following)

See, now it makes sense why in Class E, VFR Min's are 3 MI VIS and 1000 above, 500 below, and 2000 laterally from clouds, and in Class G that decreases to 1 MI VIS and you can fly right up against a cloud. Getting hit by an IFR plane is much less of a threat in Class G.

It is very unlikely that an IFR Pilot with a brain, will be zipping around, IN THE CLOUDS, in uncontrolled (Class G) air. (NOT ILLEGAL) So the likelyhood of an IFR plane bustng out of a cloud and hitting you is very low.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

ArionAv8or
Posts: 271
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:42 am

Re: Sort Of

Postby ArionAv8or » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:27 am

bryancobb wrote:in Class G that decreases to 1 MI VIS and you can fly right up against a cloud. Getting hit by an IFR plane is much less of a threat in Class G.


Please correct me if I am wrong but The regs may state you can fly with 1 MI Vis and cloud clearance but I did not think that applies to Sport Pilots. I believe we must maintain 3 MI Vis and the standard 500' below, 1000' above and 2000' lat regardless of airspace.


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