As I mentioned earlier, I passed my Private Pilot checkride this week. I’m really happy that the training that I started, with some trepidation, about a year ago finally resulted in my getting a Private Pilot’s License (PPL).

While I was preparing for the checkride, I kept searching on the web for any information about the checkride, and I found very little. So, this is my attempt at trying to add to the rather small body of knowledge that exists on the Internet about the Private Pilot checkride.

This is the first of a three-part series about my checkride. The other two parts will be posted shortly.

What is a “Checkride”?

A “checkride” is just what it says :) OK. That didn’t help much did it? Alright here goes my definition of the term checkride.

A practical test, administered by an FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), consisting of an oral test and a flight test, which is used to certify a candidate for a pilot’s license.

With the definition out of the way, I’m going to talk a little more about the checkride itself. In subsequent posts, I will blog more about the preparation itself.

The Morning of the Checkride

As I mentioned above, the checkride typically consists of an oral portion and a flight portion. My checkride had been scheduled for Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 8:30AM in my flight school, DuBois Aviation.

I had called the DPE the previous day and he asked me to plan a cross-country flight to Henderson Executive Airport (KHND) just south of Las Vegas. I also took the opportunity to ask him how much he weighed and if he would be bringing any baggage with him so that I could get a head start on the weight and balance calculations.

On Monday night, I finished up my flight plan and the weight and balance calculations for the flight. I tried to get enough sleep, but all I could muster was about 3 hours (woefully inadequate for the long day that was to come).

I woke up at 5:00AM, as I had planned, showered and at 6:00AM called Flight Service (1–800-WX-BRIEF) for the weather briefing. I remembered to write down the information they gave me to the best of my ability, knowing fully well that the briefer was going to talk really fast and that I would have to supplement the weather briefing with data from DUAT.

The weather briefing made me fairly confident that I could fly this route if I had to. VFR weather throughout the Southern California and Southern Nevada regions. Some thunderstorm activity to the east of KHND, no convective SIGMETs that were to be in effect. The only TFRs were a fire fighting TFR over the San Gabriel mountains and a TFR for September 12 over Las Vegas for President Obama’s visit.

I wrote this all down and then transcribed this information, along with the data from DUAT into a weather briefing form that my CFI had given me.

That completed the entire flight planning section of my pre-work.

I left home at 7:15AM to ensure I gave myself enough time to reach DuBois Aviation and settle down for the oral exam. With some traffic, I reached DuBois at 8:00AM - in good time for the DPE to show up.

So, that’s it for this part. I will shortly post more about the oral exam as well as the actual flight portion.