Gettin’ ready for the big one: PPL test next week!

Right, then. We’re getting down to the final 10 minutes of the game here. Specifically: if next Wednesday’s (14 September) weather holds up, I should know by about 3.00pm that day if I’ve finally got my coveted Private Pilots License.

Practiced my emergency procedures

Having completed my final dual cross-country flight, I also flew a quick hour in the Bankstown training area back on 26 August. Practised my stalls (power-off and in landing configuration), forced landings and Precautionary Search & Landings. Much to my annoyance, I forgot to practise my steep turns, on which I may be tested and to be frank I haven’t really got them nailed yet. But, c’est la vie and all that – will just have to focus and nail them if asked to do it on the day.

Stalls were fine. Forced Landings were OK – maybe a 6/10 – I only realised after I’d done them that I’d incorrectly put the aircraft into a glide at 80 knots, rather than the “Best Rate of Glide”speed of 75 knots. Won’t make that mistake in the PPL test!

Precautionary Search & Landing again OK, though I made a bunch of passes over the landing area at 1000 feet above ground level and neglected to drop down to 500 feet above for final pass and to simulate actual landing approach. Again, won’t make that mistake in PPL.

In any case I’ll be revising all these procedures in my Flying Training Manual over the next couple of days to make sure I don’t forget any detail. It’ll be OK.

Most annoyingly, before taking off at Bankstown for that flight I made the very rookie error of believing that I was transmitting from my COM2 radio while the transmission switch was on COM1. Consequently, I made repeated calls to the Tower over the Ground frequency. Convinced I had radio problems, I requested permission to taxi back to parking and was given permission to taxi via the runway (having already approached the runway holding point). Once off the runway and halfway to parking, I spotted the error, turned around and headed back, with apologies to Ground (who were very nice about it I must say).

One lovely thing about this flight: cloud was scattered puffs of fluffy white cumulus at about 2000 feet, so climbing up through and above them to 4000 feet to practise my stalls, I was treated to the lovely vista of white clouds immediately below me. There’s something new about every flight I do, and in this case, I do believe it was the first time I’ve flown solo in the training area with significant cloud below me. Made it a slight challenge to navigate visually so as to stay within the boundaries of the Bankstown training area – a new twist that I’d not had to manage before.

Now I’m hitting the books

It seems prudent to go over all the theory and all the practical stuff outlined in the Flying Training Manual as well. Here’s when I feel very blessed by my memory’s capacity for retaining heaps of stuff through short-term study.

Have been through the BAK and PPL theory materials, just working my way through Air Law again and then I’ll hit the Flying Training Manual (boning up in particular on Forced Landings, Precautionary Search & Landings and Steep Turns). Then it will be my little “cheat booklet” on the Piper Warrior with all the operating speeds and performance matters specific to the aircraft.

Then I think I’ll pull out ERSA and my maps and bone up on all of the aerodromes I’m likely to be possibly landing at or navigating to on  the day (depending on where the weather dictates that we fly to on the day). Make sure I’m clued in to aerodrome specifics (for example, at Cessnock you have to call ahead to get permission to land, and on runway 35 up there they only do right hand circuits).

Further, a survey of possible/likely diversion destinations would seem prudent. And finally, I think I’ll pull out my old flight plans and have them ready to choose/copy from when my flight route for the day is determined. The less flight planning I have to do from scratch on the day, the better.

On the day

Gonna get me a good night’s sleep on the night prior – not too much study hopefully. Make a decent lunch and take a big bottle of water.

Aircraft (my reliable old NFR, hopefully) is booked for 9.30am, but I’ll be there at 7.30. Will get it fuelled up and inspected early, and I wouldn’t mind 10 quiet minutes in the cockpit to completely refamiliarise myself with the radio and navigation systems. Make sure I have the radio buttons all sorted!

And focus. (As I write I have the spectre of a job redundancy hanging over me, which is of course quite stressful – I’ve gotta put it out of my mind for Wednesday). And – as several have advised me – take it carefully, treat it as a passenger flight, and enjoy it!

Will report back …

9 responses to “Gettin’ ready for the big one: PPL test next week!

  1. Hi Dave,

    My own PPL flight test is next Tuesday (Camden -> Goulburn -> Canberra -> Crookwell -> Bindook VOR -> Camden). Just prior to hitting Canberra CTA, it’ll likely be a diversion to Crookwell for PS&L, short field landing + takeoff.

    Like you I’ve spent the past few days reviewing KDR’s, flight plans, takeoff distance charts and weights & balances. (basically trying to cover everything on page 2 of Form 77, ).

    My own demon is the PS&L, and I’ll be buzzing the skies over St Marys this weekend for a recap prior to the big day.

    I look forward to reading about your experiences next Wednesday, and whilst I’ll not claim to be nearly so articulate in recording my flights I’ll endeavour to write up my own check ride.

    Best of luck!

  2. You too Sean! I’m hoping my CFI might clue me in on Monday as to possible routes so I can flight plan in advance. Not sure if we typically range to Canberra/Crookwell for the PPL test or not – though I know it happens often enough. Apparently a common scenario for us is Cessnock/Scone with diversion somewhere after Cessnock …

    Good luck!

  3. Good luck to the both of you… at this stage, you’re both already more than ripe. Just get out there and fly it. As I was once told: you’ve planned the flight, now fly the plan.

    I chuckled about your comment Dave re. putting the aircraft in a slightly faster glide on approach. Happens to a lot of us.

    I flew on Sunday and did the very same thing on my downwind-to-base turn. Had to pull up the nose to bleed off some airspeed – which would have made for an interesting sight for the Tower boys.

    It is a licence to learn, so yeah, I learned plenty on my flight.

    May you guys have CAVOK conditions and keep that burning desire going throughout your flight test. So very near the finish line now!

  4. Thanks Ninja, Dave.

    You’ll be happy to know that I got a pass. This was despite initially picking the wrong (downwind) runway at Goulburn (YGLB) and spending 10 minutes hunting around for Crookwell (YCRL) after a diversion. I put this down to getting distracted / loss of situational awareness. Regardless a lot went right with it and I had a fantastic flight.

    It was severe CAVOK yesterday and great flying conditions despite a 20kt headwind from the west. Dave it looks like conditions may be more challenging for you today with stronger winds forecast, so good luck with it!

    Already planning my first cross-country with my family and thinking about my first endorsement; any recommendations Ninja?

    • Sean, congratulations, that’s great news!!

      I, similarly, have happy news from yesterday. Passed after an arduous 2.7 hours (with no break, started to cramp up towards the end) in quite choppy conditions at times. Made plenty of mistakes, on which I will of course blog, but it was good enough to get the job done. 🙂

  5. Congratulations Sean and Dave! I’ve just started training for my PPL with Sydney Aviators and found your blog. I’m up to my first circuit lesson this weekend – it’s been interesting to read through your experience and find out what I can expect. I’m only part time, somany months of training ahead.

    I’ve also fired up a blog detailing my experience, it’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve learned!

    Look forward to further updates, and may see you kicking around YSBK one of these days.

  6. Pingback: Mission accomplished: I am now a licensed Private Pilot! | MidLifePilot's Flying Blog

  7. Pingback: Passing The Exams For A Private Pilots License |

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