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