Instrument Flight 50: Checkride, Part Two

I passed the oral part of the test last time, so I didn’t have to do any studying to prepare for today. There was a small amount of paperwork to do, and then we went flying.

The first part of the flight went very well; I did an ILS and an NDB approach, both of which were fine. Next I was supposed to fly the published missed approach, which included a holding pattern.

About halfway out to the holding fix, the controller told me to hold on a different side of the intersection than the chart shows, due to skydiving activity. Now I had my first real chance to screw up the test.

It had been a month or so since I had done any holding, and a lot longer since I was given nonstandard holding instructions to figure out in flight. I sketched the new pattern and tried to pick the right entry method before reaching the fix. When I got to the fix I made a turn that put me on the wrong side of the intersection, but eventually I got straightened out and hoped I was still passing the test. (It’s always a good idea to assume you’re passing until told otherwise.)

After the holding we cancelled IFR (but kept flight following), and I was asked to do some unusual attitude recoveries and steep turns. We got several reports of traffic, and the examiner responded to those directly. Then he requested a VOR approach, and I thought I was supposed to do the whole thing. I got some vectors that I thought were to maneuver around traffic, and was waiting for a clearance to head to the VOR and do the approach but never heard one.

The examiner wondered why I hadn’t descended, since we wound up directly over the airport at 2000 feet. (I was being given headings, so I kept flying them.) When he realized what the confusion was, he let me try it again, and it went fine.

For some reason I thought we were supposed to do the full approach for the test, but after reading the test standards again, I couldn’t find that requirement. After all those flights trying to fly out on a radial, make a procedure turn, etc., all I had to do for the test was fly toward the VOR, descend, and level off close to the minimum. The approach ended with a circle-to-land maneuver and a touch & go, then we went back home.

I flew back without the hood, assuming I had passed the test, and hoping not to make some major blunder on the way. The IFR test can only be failed by failing one of the IFR tasks, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself (any more than I already had) with a bad landing or the like.

We got back on the ground, and he told me I had passed. I felt more relief than anything else- relief that I don’t have to schedule any more lessons or do the same approaches repeatedly, that it’s finally over after eight months and 60 or 70 hours of instruction, that I didn’t give up after almost doing so several times, and that I don’t have to do any more flight tests in the summer heat.

Now I can cut back on flying and then work on other things later. The only bad thing is having to give up my first license. It had to be sent to the FAA with the application, and a new one was mailed to me. It’s nice to have one that has the instrument rating on it, but it’s too bad I can’t keep the original one for the sentimental value.

Thanks for all the help, Jack.

Today: 1.2 hours instrument time
Total: 5.6 hours IMC time
Total: 79.7 hours instrument time

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