Checkride writeup, part 1

I fully intended to write a complete writeup of my private pilot checkride but as you’ll see below, you’ll have to wait for part 2!

Saturday, November 12th, was the day.  It was supposed to be my long anticipated, private pilot license earning, checkride passing, fist pumping, woohoo day.  And it started out like that!  My instructor signed me off to fly solo from University Park to Capital City where I was to meet the examiner.  I took off from UNV at about 9:15am and arrived right on time.  It was a great day for flying.  No clouds in the sky, very light winds, and just a hint of chill in the air.  In other words, a perfect test day.

I landed at Capital City, parked at the ramp, and started taking with the examiner.  As we talked he put me at ease about the whole process.  He asked me about what I did for a living, about my family, about things other than the oral exam that was about to begin.  He’s a genuinely nice guy and I appreciated his efforts to relax me.  Once the oral exam began, it was one of the fastest 90 minutes of my life.  He asked me questions left and right ranging from airplane airworthiness requirements to aircraft performance.  From sectional chart legends to oxygen requirements.  I aced all the questions and did not need to refer to any external books or documents.

He was impressed by my answers and he was also liked that I had prepared myself by completing the DC SFRA online course and bringing the certificate along since we were so close to the DC 60-mile ring.  Thanks to my CFI for encouraging me to do that and I’m glad I did it.

So we end the oral exam and he starts to brief me about the practical portion.  Pretty standard stuff.  He says we’ll do normal takeoffs, short field and soft field takeoffs and landings, at some point he’ll give me an emergency procedure, we’ll do a no-flap landing, a go-around, ground reference maneuvers, and so on.  At this point we break for a minute and I go outside to pre-flight the plane.

He joins me and we star talking about the plane and how trusty this trainer has been over the years.  This plane in particular is a 1978 Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk, or “Traumahawk” as he joked.  We checked the plane up and down, he asked me a few questions about the plane, and in we go.  Preflight checklist complete.

We go to start the engine and that’s when the fun ended.  The prop spun a couple of time, and then just would no longer spin.  The battery had drained and there was no life left to start the plane.  We call the line folks at CXY and they did not have the cables required to jump start the plane.  John called a friend who happens to be working on his aircraft mechanic certificate and he came over with a truck and a cable, but we were not successful and had to discontinue the checkride until the plane is repaired.

I’m glad nothing happened on my way over from UNV but am surprised that something did happen between my arrival at CXY and our attempted flight just 2 hours later.

Here’s the plane as we scratched our heads and wondered about its condition.

piper pa38-112 tomahawk

I called the airplane’s owner and he will get it fixed ASAP.  I also called my instructor who was luckily able to come pick me up with another student on another plane to take me home.

leaving capital cityCan you spot the Tomahawk?  It’s the green on by the hangers.  See you later Tomahawk, hopefully soon!

The best private pilot training videos on YouTube

I’ve been working on my private pilot license lately and have spent a lot of time hitting the books and other sources as much as possible in order to ace the private pilot checkride.

In addition to the ASA Private Pilot book (which is pure gold, a must have, invaluable, awesome, great, thumbs up, indispensable, 5 stars, etc!), the FAR/AIM, PHAK, and the ACS standards, I’ve been learning a lot from Reddit and YouTube.

The videos below are recommendations for you to watch on your way to becoming a private pilot.  They will not only help you with the FAA written test (also, check out the ACS Interactive Quiz I created), but will help you relax about the checkride as it’ll give you a preview from the examiner’s perspective and a bird’s eye view of the actual checkride oral exam.

The Best Private Pilot Training Videos on YouTube


This video will prepare you for both the FAA written test and the oral exam. It’s a roughly 2 hour session of a ground school lesson given by a flight instructor. It’s hugely informative. Given that he’s reading regulations for 2 hours, it’s actually a pretty great video. Audio quality is very good. I listened to this video probably 3 or more times while on the treadmill, walking around, at work, and so on.


Before watching this video I had no real idea of how the checkride was going to work. I didn’t really know what to expect and was feeling very nervous about the whole process. After watching this several times, I felt much more confident about the process and felt like I was much more prepared that I felt before. Watch it often and write down any questions you may not know the answers to. Thanks to this video I made my own “airworthiness” cheat sheet that I’ll take with me to the checkride that will outline the aircraft maintenance dates and will also have the weight and balance right on it.

This video
(Sorry, embedding was disabled)is interesting because it tells you, from the examiner’s perspective, what they’ll be looking for. The DPE in the video is very clear about expectations and I really learned quite a bit from his presentation.

I hope you find these useful in your private pilot journeys!

Random thoughts – Election 2016

As I sit here quite stunned at last night’s election results, I’m looking to the future to see if metrics can be used to measure the efficacy of one political party versus another.  Older and wiser people have told me that you vote Democrat when you’re young and have a heart and then vote Republican when you’re older and have a brain.

Given that these last 8 years have been seemingly amazing for all sorts of innovation, creativity, freedoms, rights, businesses, jobs, and overall stability, I’d like to write down for the sake of posterity where we stand today so that I can come back to this post later and compare what happened.

Who knows. While I despise the person of Trump, maybe his red House and Senate will make prudent policy.  I doubt it, but I’m saying there’s a slim possibility.


The Markets

Last night as the voting was coming to a close and the numbers started coming in, the futures markets took a nosedive.  People worldwide are scared of what could happen, but let’s look at where we stand right now.

The Markets
Index Data
Dow 18,332.74
Nasdaq 5,193.49
S&P500 2,139.56

Jobs & Unemployment

When President Obama took office in 2009, the unemployment rate was quickly rising to almost 10% of people aged 16 and over.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, it is currently at just under 5%.


General Figures

These are the prices of common goods so we can look back and see how they fared in 4 years.  All data from website.

Cost of Goods
Index Data
Gallon of Gas $2.26/gal
Milk $3.29/gal
Eggs $1.41/doz
Coffee $4.37/lb

Presidential Approval

Another thing that would be interesting to note is the presidential approval rating.  President Obama has been a polarizing figure of historical proportions with I believe an equal feeling of Love and Hate from opposing parties.  I feel that Trump will have the same sort of relationship with “we the people” though he will have more support from a red house and senate.

President Obama’s current approval rate is sitting at 52% according to We’ll see how Trump fares in four years.

The Almighty Dollar

Somewhat related to the markets table above, this would be an interesting metric to track.  How will the Dollar do in four years?

Right now, $1 is equal to .91 Euros and .81 British Pounds.  There are smarter folks out there who can interpret the USDX index to get a better weighted average of the buck but I am not going to do that. 🙂

Fix Google Plus Auto Backup to [Solved]!

If you have an Android device and have been frustrated by the inconsistent functionality of Google’s Auto Backup of your photos and videos, you are not alone!

Most of the time, the status on the device will read “Backup up…49 left” and be stuck there forever, unless you cheated and disabled backing up over WiFi.  But if you want your photos and videos to back up while you are on you own (or someone else’s) wireless network, you were stuck indefinitely.

Turns out that the fix is quite simple.  Google thinks that your WiFi network is what it calls a “mobile hotspot”, or something else tethered to a mobile network using mobile data.  For this reason, several applications don’t allow the transfer of data if you’ve specified WiFi only because it’s watching out for your best interest.

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to resolve this issue and fix your problems!

On your device, navigate to settings and look for your “data usage” menu.  Once there, click on the 3 dots menu and click on “Mobile Hotspots”.  Find your network name and UNTICK it.  That’s it!

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Big Ten tuition for 2015-2016

As a long overdue update to my previous post regarding big ten tuition costs (, I’ve compiled new information about tuition for the schools in the Big Ten conference.
Since last time, the conference has grown so this chart compares the tuition costs across all of the schools in the Big Ten.
It was a challenge to estimate some costs and some universities included the cost of room and board in their fees explanation while some did not. This is a rough guide to help you along the way.

Tuition for Big Ten Schools for 2015-2016
Tuition for Big Ten Schools for 2015-2016

The average cost of attending a Big Ten university for in state residents is now approximately $22,300 while out of state residents can expect to shell out nearly $37,000 for one year of education.