I did it, I’m officially a Private Pilot! I guess I’m meant to know stuff now.
The day of my Private Pilot Licence (PPL) flight test is finally here. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous. Before we get into that though, let’s discuss the lead up.
Now, where did I leave you last. Oh yes, the not so awesome flight down the coast. Anyway, you’ll recall on the way back to Archerfield, Steve (the CFI at Gil Layt’s) said to me “Have you flown into the Sunshine Coast before? Because that’s where we’ll be heading in your test… which will be your next flight!”. Those words will stay with me for the rest of my life. It’s like the words came out of his mouth in slow motion and I knew where he was going with it before he finished speaking. I’ve been waiting a long time to hear those words and I was both excited and terrified at the same time.
When we returned to Archerfield on that day, Steve advised that before the test, we would need a 3 hour session to complete a PPL briefing, test me on any KDR’s from the PPL written test and plan the test itself. So I booked in a suitable date and time to reconvene.
A fortnight later, I was back at Gil Layt’s flying school, ready to prepare for my Private Pilot Licence (PPL) test (which was booked for the following week). Together, we went throught the rules and regs associated with private pilots in Australia – the do’s and don’ts if you like. Steve then tested me on items from my Knowledge Deficiency Report (KDR). Which included loading, P Charts and cloud types. When he was sufficiently satisfied that I knew what I was doing, we started to discuss the PPL flight test. Steve advised me to plan a flight from Archerfield (YBAF) – Kilkivan – Biggenden – Gympie (YGYM) – Sunshine Coast (YBSU) – Caboolture (YCAB) – Archerfield (YBAF). He gave me a few pointers like to expect a diversion, emergency procedures and other manouvres. We then went on to complete the paperwork needed for the license application like copies of my licence, passport photos etc. With all the admin done, I left terrified that the very next week, I would be completing my PPL flight test.
The next week consisted of flight planning, prepping and simulating. I flew the route in the sim about 5 times to get my head around what to expect as well as rehearsing radio calls (especially heading into YBSU). By the night before the flight, I felt like I was as prepared as I could possibly be.
On the day, I turned up to Gil Layt’s Flying School about an hour before my scheduled departure time with my flight and fuel plans complete. All that was left to do was submit my plan with Airservices Australia. On arrival, Steve was ready and raring to go. It threw me for a six, now I didn’t have much time to relax and I could feel myself starting to get flustered. I took a few deep breathes, reassured myself that I knew what I was doing and got on with it. I submitted my flight plan, ordered some fuel and headed out to the plane (VH-TKJ) ahead of Steve to get things set up. I decided not to record this flight as I know Steve’s not a huge fan. Thankfully I didn’t get a call from Air Services asking questions about my plan, like “it says here you have an emergency slide and 2 inflatable boats, is that correct” 😉
Once the preflights were done and Steve was strapped in, we headed on out. Now, this is where I would usually give you a blow by blow of the flight, but as this was a test, I won’t go into too much detail. If you have any specific questions, just contact me and I’m happy to share 🙂
The flight itself went well, with lots of landings (short field, flapless, glide), circuits, emergency procedures, a diversion, some instrument flight, dead reckoning (obviously), GPS and VOR navigation, controlled airspace and non-controlled airspace. The strangest part though was conducting low flying through the country. 30 or so nm of flying at 500 feet is quite strange and not something that i’ve completed before.
All up, I was very impressed with how professional and fair Steve was. I had a couple of errors like a sloppy landing but, Steve appreciated a go around and reassured me that it’s ok to not have a perfect landing, it’s the decisions you make and how you recover that mattters. He also asked for some navigation using the GPS which impressed me. On the way home, once I’d successfully not gotten us lost and was back in familar territory, Steve eased my mind by letting me know that I had passed the test. I was so releived, I could have hugged him (lucky I didn’t, I don’t think he’s a hugging type of guy).
We landed and taxied back to the line. I couldn’t believe it, I was actually a Private Pilot. All of this work that I’ve put in has finally paid off! I could relax and just enjoy my flying now. Such a good feeling!