Flight 21 – Checkride – Part 33


It’s early on Sunday morning, light winds and broken clouds. I have 27.8 hours.

This flight is a pass/fail. Grant gave me a call on Saturday and asked if I wanted to fly with Maddie. Maddie is one of the other instructors at Midwest.  Everyone teaches a little differently so it will be nice to see how I stack up in her eyes.

We jump in and fire up the Guimbal. I let her know I’m not awesome on radios and off we go.

We get into the pattern and do our thing. Normal approach, a pedal turn, quick stops, steep approaches and an couple autos. One of the autos as a little bumpy on the entry but I blame it on Maddie being tiny and Grant being massively overweight – so my CG was thrown off a bit. Obviously that is completely false but who cares I’m going to blame my ugly auto on that.

Then we did a run on which I completely nailed. I’d only done 4 or 5 of these by myself so it was a good feeling that it went so smoothly. I let Maddie know to stick close on controls and she did… It was pretty smooth, I stayed right above ETL and put the thing down on the skids as gently as I could.

Maddie is pretty hands off and is a little quiet compared to Grant. Then again I’ve been trapped in a tiny helicopter with Grant for almost 30 hours – at this point so we’re used to each other.  We flew for an hour and the only thing that I flubbed was a radio call and the entry to that auto. I hugged the right side of the runway a few times and didn’t keep the nose completely straight but nothing of note. I asked for a “grade” and she thought 80% was about right. I’ll take it. The radio call I flubbed was because I couldn’t hear the guy (lots of wind noise in my headset) and the entry to the auto was nerves.  I give myself +5% on the radio call and +5% on the auto because I can.   A fake 90% or A-, yes, I know it’s not ok to change your grade.

She said I had great control of the aircraft and felt I was in good shape to solo. AWESOME. I’m super pumped but also, oh man, I have to fly a helicopter all by myself.  No one will be sitting next to me to fix what I do wrong.

I sent a text to Grant that all went well and I was good to go.  It’s important to have a good rapport with your instructor and despite Grant’s personality I really like the way he teaches.  I feel ready to solo.  He’s done a great job making sure I have the fundamentals down.  Beyond that he doesn’t let you slide on much, if something is off even just slightly we stop, do it over again and he explains why it was wrong.  I was kidding about his personality.  He’s a good guy and a good pilot.  I feel like I’ve received great training and want to stick through all of my training with him.  I’ve decided to go through to my commercial.

I can’t believe I’m going to solo now. I’ve been in the air for a total of 28.9 hours. I’ve read of military guys and fixed wing guys soloing around 10 hours. Nope, no thank you. The books say you can solo at 20 but looking back at the 20 hour mark, no way. I wasn’t ready.

Next step, I take a written test.  If I pass I go for a spin in 989HH alone.