The Check Ride – The Rehearsal

The Check Ride

Normally Sheble has onsite examiners perform your check ride at the end of your training course, but on the day that I was supposed to take my check ride for my multi-engine rating, the only designated pilot examiner that had time to examine me was in California and he wanted to meet me at Apple Valley, California (KAPV).

That was fine with me, since I was told that I’d be able to log a few extra hours of cross-country time with some training along the way and Sheble would pay for the time in the airplane and the gas as part of the course fee, but I’d have to fly the entire check ride and shoot the instrument approach at an airport that I’d never flown in and out of before.

To prepare for this curve ball, Matt and I hit the books.  Matt had several previous students who had taken their check rides with this examiner before so he knew that we were going to fly the ILS to runway 17 at Victorville which is 15 miles to the west of Apple Valley.  Victorville (KVCV) is a huge airport facility out in the middle of nowhere that serves as a storage depot and refurbishing center for large widebody aircraft and it is also a place where a lot of heavy military traffic does practice ILS approaches.

The ILS approach at KVCV serves a runway that is FIFTEEN THOUSAND FEET LONG, so I figured I’d be able to make any crappy landing on that airfield look short.  Here’s the approach plate for the ILS to VCV 17.  I studied it until I knew it as well as I know the approach plate to the ILS at my home airport.

twin engine checkride


Since this instrument approach was going to be flown with foggles with an engine failure somewhere along the way, I wanted to go over it a few times.  I hopped in the simulator and Matt started me up on the ground at Apple Valley in a 172 configuration and we took off towards the west, departed northwesterly, and intercepted the final approach course somewhere around the DME arc.

Matt explained that the check ride would probably follow a similar pattern, so I took the time to commit the names and altitudes of the IAF (SCCAT at 5,200 feet), final approach course (166 degrees), FAF (SUZZQ at 4,300 and 6.1 DME), and the MAP to memory before I had to do if for real.  I figured that doing it once in the simulator before the check ride would really help my situational awareness and make sure I didn’t do something totally stupid like turn outbound when intercepting the final approach course during the real thing.

Matt and I spent 2 more hours rehearsing for the oral portion of the examination and then we agreed that we’d meet back at Sheble on Wednesday morning at 9am to fly over to Apple Valley.

One final thing….I use an Ipad for instrument flying and I love it.  I can use an E6-B if I have to, but my old aluminum E6-B is so worn out and the dials on it are so sloppy that I rather use it to signal for help after running out of gas than figure out the correct time enroute.  Matt called ahead and got the verbal OK that I’d be able to use my electronic E6-B during the checkride.  The response from the examiner was “tell him he can use whatever he normally uses during flight.”


twin engine training  twin engine cockpit training check ride  twin engine airplane cross country

Like nearly every morning of the year at A20, Wednesday morning had a beautiful sunrise and the day broke clear, cold a perfect.  I got to the airfield a little early, checked in with Eddie and got the usual Boston run-down of the events for the day, gassed up 2024 Charlie, and waited for Matt.

Apple Valley is at the far eastern edge of riverside county, east of LA, and it is a quiet, sleepy little general aviation airport.  Our flight out there was beautiful but uneventful.  The southwestern desert was lit by the low angle morning sun as we headed west.  We raised LA center at about 6,000 feet and they handed us off to Joshua approach in the vicinity of Victorville.

Sure enough, a KC-135 tanker was shooting practice ILS approaches when we arrived so we delayed for a while doing engine out drills, slow flight, and steep turns while we waited for sequencing.  We ultimately got our shot at it, and after flying it before in the Sim, I found my way pretty easily to the initial approach fix at SCCAT, the final approach fix at SUZZQ, and on down to the longest runway that I think I’ve ever landed at.

Vmc twin engine  twin engine instrument 

Victorville has got a REALLY NICE cafe in the FBO on the field and we had great lunch before heading over to Apple Valley.  We did one final engine out drill on the runway before lifting off and 15 minutes later, rolled to a stop in front of the terminal at Apple Valley.

The California Highway Patrol has a hanger at Apple Valley and they had a 2 A-stars and a cessna 206 in CHP colors sitting on the ramp when we arrived, but that was basically the only sign of life.  There was an empty conference room inside the terminal/airport management building that we set up in preparation for the oral and right on time, my examiner walked in.

Questions about the check ride?

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