I passed

Today I’m officially a private pilot.

The test started out with an oral exam. The DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) did explain that he wasn’t looking for 100% knowledge on what he was to ask, but that he didn’t want guesses (otherwise known as BS) either. I did fairly well here; tho a few things did come up that I didn’t know. He made notes on those, and discussed them post-test, but .. overall, I passed the oral just fine, no worries. Topics included airspace, regulations, aerodynamics, medical factors, and my intended flight plan.

The flying test was actually fairly short. We took off from Sacramento, requesting flight following (and then cancelling it shortly thereafter; he was testing my radio skills). This was a bit amusing, as the radar guy thought I was going to Pine Mountain Lake direct, instead of my indirect route. As such, he vectored me to avoid traffic that I would have never hit on my own.

Actual skills put to test: take offs and landings (normal; short field; soft field); turns around a point and S turns; steep turns (45 degree bank); flying instrument only, including going to bad attitudes and then recovering; radio work; navigation (including diversions). One of my steep turns was pretty marginal. However, the examiner was in a good mood, and let me try again, and I nailed it.

My big fear, the soft field landing, I managed to squeek a great landing in. Several tries yesterday all sucked; but the one with the examiner worked out. Turns out that I could use more flaps, and land slower, when doing soft field landings, which the DPE suggested.

Anyhow, I now have a license to learn.. and to fly about freely in the sky. Horray!

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