Sunday, September 25, 2005


Flying Lesson #53: Stage Check

Today I had a stage check with the chief flight instructor, the purpose of which was to check whether I am competent to make long solo cross-country flights. As with the last stage check, there was an oral examination, followed by a flight portion, then a debrief.

I won't go into all the details of what went right and what went wrong. In general, I did fine. However, I did get lost, which is not good when trying to demonstrate competence at cross-country navigation. The chief flight instructor was able to give me some valuable advice:

If you look at the map more often, you are less likely to get lost.

I know that's screamingly obvious to everyone else on the planet, but Kris The Idiot Boy needed the hint.

For my cross-country navigation, I have been relying a lot on dead reckoning, which means making calculations determining where the plane will be at a specified time given an initial position, heading, speed, and wind drift. I fly the right heading for the right period of time, pull out the chart to see if I'm where I should be, then neatly stow the chart out of the way to keep the cockpit nice and tidy. Instead, I should have the chart in front of me all the time, and should be noting my position mile by mile.

The chief instructor had a couple of pages of notes for other things I could do better, but there were no other big mistakes. I am now cleared for the final stage of training, consisting of a couple of cross-country flights (including a 400-mile trip) and then getting ready for the checkride.

Logged today: 1.2 hours dual in N4363D, with one takeoff and one landing, and 0.3 hours simulated instrument conditions. Cost (including 3.7 hours chief-instructor time): $455.

It really is a big deal... I was surprised on my checkride how much time the examiner spent going over the route I'd chosen and talking about what we would be able to see and when... etc. I've also had the instructors get me lost while on a XC... putting me under the hood as we approach the destination.. then having to figure it out. More than once I'd end up directly over the airport.. and not seeing it because I was looking too far out. If you come to charlotte on one of your trips maybe we could grab some lunch.
If you don't mind me asking, are you working on the private or commercial license? It seems like you have so many hours already. How much do they charge? - from "bored at work"
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