Checkride Season

What is a Checkride?

Here at Embry-Riddle, the flight portion of our degree for those majoring in Aeronautical Science requires us to complete the Private, Instrument, Commercial and Multi-Engine certificates / ratings. I have been working on my Commercial Single-Engine Certificate which will be added to my instrument rated private pilot certificate. Every rating or certificate you complete, you need to take a knowledge test and a practical test, known as the checkride. These checkrides can be completed with a check airmen (ERAU instructors) or a Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE) (FAA).

Commercial Pilot Checkride

If you are completing your commercial pilot training here at Riddle, you need to take the in-house checkride (oral and flight with ERAU check airmen) then you need to complete an oral and a flight with a DPE, known as the DE. By the time this post goes up, I will be waiting for my DE to get scheduled upon completing and passing my in-house checkride.

My In-house Checkride

My checkride was fairly straight forward. The oral portion went by rather quickly, just like every other oral checkride here at Riddle. I had about 3 observers who were also students on the commercial track, who wanted to observe my checkride before they have to go on their own. We are sometimes asked to take observers on our orals and flights to encourage backseat learning. After about 2 hours of intense briefing and questions being tossed around, I had passed my oral portion of the in-house checkride.

Couple of days later, I was put on schedule for the flight portion. It was a 2 hour and 20 minute flight on a hot, spring day here in Florida. Despite all the thermal bumps in the air and the extreme afternoon heat in our small cockpit, the flight went smoothly. The check airmen asked me to perform the required maneuvers, perform my landings in a small non-controlled airport near Melbourne and demonstrate my abilities to safely operate and conduct this flight. He was very helpful in guiding me in times when I was stuck on a question or occupied with maneuvering my way through other traffic.

Riddle provides these cool pins for every rating / certificate you earn!
Here’s a pretty neat visual on what my checkride looked like from the sky! (N430ER)

Checkrides in the Future

Now as I study and prepare for my “real” checkride, a DE with the Designated Pilot Examiner, I am heading back into self-quarantine surrounding myself with books, documents, study guides and other references to prepare myself.

For those who are hoping to become airline pilots in the future, you will start to hear a lot about checkrides starting with your very first Private Pilot certificate. You will start to hate everything about checkrides because they are the most daunting part about flying if you are not a big fan of examinations. Good news and bad news, you will be well prepared for every one of your checkride despite what your nerves tell you. Bad news, the checkrides will never end until you decide to retire at the age of 65 because airline pilots go on their “checkrides” every 6 to 12 months (depending on your company).

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Eyes Peeled for Open Doors

Embry-Riddle offers a wide variety of student organizations and clubs that students can take part in to develop their interpersonal relationships and find a way to de-stress from their rigorous academics. It can be overwhelming at first when deciding what organizations to join and I learned after 3 years at Riddle, that this process can be very long and exhausting.

For this blog, I will be talking about one particular event I had this past weekend with one of the student organizations I am part of on campus. I am a general board member of the Alpha Omicron Alpha (AOA) Aeronautical Honor Society. It is an organization built for students who are studying in the aeronautical science major. We work with the College of Aviation in assisting with various on-campus events along with our own unique social, fundraiser and educational events. Our organization is among the few pilot specific groups including the Tutor lab team, FLAP team and the Riddle Flight Team.

Group photo in front of the Airbus training center in Miami, Fla.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to go on an overnight trip to Miami, Fla with about 30 AOA students to an Airbus training center. We were greeted at the center where professional airline pilots come in for initial, currency and type rating trainings in their state-of-the-art simulators. We were able to sit down for an informational presentation about the Airbus company followed by a tour of their simulators. These simulators included sections for the emergency slide practice, cabin crew door modules, and full-motion simulators for the A320, A330, A340, A350 types. We were able to see these simulators up close and allowed to briefly jump in these modules for some hands-on experience.

The entire group was thoroughly briefed and presented the Airbus’ philosophy and their safety culture. It was a meaningful experience as most students in the organization are working towards becoming airline pilots, who will be completing the same training in these simulators in the near future. Our presenter and the guide was a Riddle alumni who was now the Director of Safety in the Americas for Airbus and he opened up so many doors for us and gave us an idea of what it’s like to choose this career path.

It is very important to choose the right number of organizations where you know you can handle the workload as you try to manage your academics, personal life and flight training (if it applies to you). It is also important to find a healthy balance between groups that you are passionate about and groups that look good on your resume or for your future career path. You need to give yourself plenty of opportunities where you can take advantage of your organization’s resources and network in order to open doors for yourself and your peers. It is important to know that we have all the resources and the power to shape our own college experience which can drastically shape our career path.

Who doesn’t like cool, free merch?!

NASCAR, Parent Weekend, Fantasy of Flight and more

 

Hi everyone. February is now coming to a close and what a February it was! During the time since my last entry, Parent Weekend came and went. Other events I’ve attended were a Giant scale RC Fly-In in Deland, Fantasy of Flight air museum and the Daytona 500.

NASCAR, Daytona 500

Daytona 500

On the weekend of February 10th, my parents flew down from Vermont for Parent Weekend. During that time, parents are encouraged to attend classes with their son/daughter, and attend different programs throughout the weekend. On Saturday I was able to take my dad flying around the north practice area in preparation for my private check ride. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience, so much so that he took a nap on the way back in to Daytona Beach. Guess I must have done a good job in giving him a smooth ride.

On Sunday, the 10th, we went to Disney World and spent the day in Epcot. This was the first time since I was five that I was able to go to Disney. I enjoyed spending a day with my parents in Epcot and I’m sure they did as well.

The next weekend was President’s day weekend, which the student body enjoyed a three day weekend. I spent one day during that weekend attending the Deland Giant-Scale RC Fly-In. I was only a spectator since I didn’t have an airplane big enough to fly there. I was incredibly impressed at the aerobatics some of these pilots were doing. Having only flown Control-line for the past six years, I’ve gotten out of touch with the RC world and forgot just how insane the aerobatics can get.

Low knife edge pass at full throttle

During that weekend, I also attended the Sprint Unlimited, a no points winner take all NASCAR race in Daytona International Speedway. After watching NASCAR racing at Daytona for years, I never thought I would be 3 feet from the fence watching them race by at 200mph.
This past weekend I went to Fantasy of Flight with the Sport Aviation Club. Fantasy of Flight is an air museum owned by Kermit Weeks. He owns all the airplanes that are there, and the ones that are on display in the museum are ready to fly. We took multiple tours of different areas of the museum, and I was amazed at all the engines and planes that he owns. In one hangar across the street from the museum, he had the fuselage to a B-29 lying there, along with more airplanes than you count. Hopefully Kermit will restore the B-29 to flying condition and fly it since there is only one flying at this current time.

A beautiful example of a P-51B Mustang at Fantasy of Flight

The next day was the Daytona 500. After hearing about the wreck in the nationwide race the day before where the engine ended up in the stands, we were expecting a good race! Once again, watching the race in person was more entertaining than watching it on TV. Jimmie Johnson became a two-time winner of The Great American Race that day.

Kasey Kahne gets loose causing a 9 car pile-up

On the academic side of these past few weeks, everything has been going well. I’ve had very little homework which is not what I would consider normal for college. I am enjoying the lack of homework since it gives me more free time to be doing what I have been doing during the weekends. I am also very close to my private check ride, which I am hoping I will have before spring break. Progress has slowed down to a crawl since we had a bad day with weather, and waiting for my turn. The instructor I was with today said one more flight and I will be ready for my check ride, which I am really excited about.
If anyone has any questions they have regarding campus life, flying at Embry-Riddle, feel free to email me at colanm@my.erau.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter, mcolan94 or subscribe to my Youtube account, flycl756355.
‘Till next time, fair skies and light winds!
Matthew Colan

December 11th:

Semester one has been completed! I can’t believe just how quickly time has flown by these past four months.  It feels like just yesterday when my parents left me to fend for myself with new people, a new environment and to do my homework on my own.  During that time I have made a countless number of new friends, shared many laughs with them and stressed out over homework and projects.

Here’s a quick recap on this past semester. I have attended two airshows, one at Cocoa Beach and one at Daytona Beach.  I have also camped out at an airport with the Sport Aviation Club. Lastly, I have built a model airplane in my dorm room and have flown it 20 times since it’s been completed.

During these past couple weeks, classes were beginning to wrap up.  All the final projects and tests seemed to occur during the same two days during the last week of classes, which caused a little bit of stress for me and kept me in my dorm room most of the day.  After that, it was time to study for finals.  I only had one final to study for, which was math.  Instead of studying, a couple of my friends and I went to the flying field and flew model airplanes from the late morning until the mid-late afternoon.  This is NOT something I would recommend doing on your study day.  For the next study day before finals, I will take advantage of that study day and actually study.  After my math final was complete, I celebrated by going to the flying field and getting three flights on my airplane before dark.  One of my friends recorded a flight for me, and I will be posting that video on my Youtube channel within the next day or two.

On the flight training side of education at Embry-Riddle, I came up a little short of my goal of obtaining my pilots license by the end of this semester.  All I need is two solo cross countries and then another two or three flights to prepare for my check ride, and then my actual check ride.  The weather took a turn south this past week and I wasn’t able to fly at all this week.  Hopefully I’ll have my license by the middle of January, and then begin working hard on trying to get my instrument rating by the end of next semester.

If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at colanm@my.erau.edu. You can also add me as a friend on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/matthew.colan or follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MColan94.  If you do wish to add me as a friend on Facebook, send me a message to let me know that you read the student blog so that I know it is not spam.  I have received multiple friend requests on Facebook that I am not sure who that person is.  If I have not accepted your friend request, send me a message so that I know you have read the student blogs.  If you have a Youtube account, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/flycl756355?feature=results_main.

‘Till next time, have a great Christmas and New Year’s, and see you all next year!

Matthew Colan

August 2009

I continued my flight training throughout the summer and planned to complete everything by early August. However, I ran into delays due to weather, illness and scheduling. Nevertheless, I completed everything in the Part 141 syllabus, literally two days prior to the move. I was rushing to finish up training in order to arrive at ERAU with my certificate. Because of this, I wasn’t able to fully grasp every topic to the fullest that was required. In the end, I was signed off to take my FAA check-ride, but failed it. As a result, I learned a valuable lesson; flying should be something you enjoy doing and should not be considered at any time a “crash course”. In addition, stress and emotion should be taken into account any time one goes flying. The ‘IM SAFE’ checklist is a good way to determine if you are fit for flight:

  • Illness – Am I too sick to fly today?
  • Medication – Are my medications approved by the FAA?
  • Stress – Am I too stressed out to go flying today?
  • Alcohol – Is my judgment impaired for any reason?
  • Fatigue – Am I too tired to go flying?
  • Eating – Is my body well-nourished for today’s flight?

We had packed the cars the night before, so on moving day I only had to pack final items, such as toiletries, alarm clocks, etc. During our travel to Daytona Beach, my family and I took the Auto-Train from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL. This cut down on the driving and gave us all a more relaxed and more comfortable experience. We had driven to Florida one time prior and it was enjoyable, but I don’t plan to do it again for a long time. The Auto-Train provided us with breakfast, dinner, a reclinable chair each, a lounge car, movies and the most legroom you could ask for. It was the cheapest way to transport a car down south, aside from driving it. I think it’s the greatest option, because you’re constantly moving, getting served, and they don’t nickel and dime you for luggage like at the airport because you just shove everything in your car. Upon arrival in Sanford, Florida, we waited a half-hour for our cars to arrive at the lot, which is typical wait time. It took less than an hour to arrive in Daytona, and according to my mom, I drove right up to the place, like I had already been there before. Upon “de-car-ing” we were greeted by two upperclassmen ready to assist us with unloading our stuff. Which at the time seemed overwhelming, but as time progressed, I purchased more and more stuff for the room.

Orientation week was really great, we had so many shows and lots of activities to choose from. There were shows such as Survey Says, For Men Only, a Hypnotist, and a comedian to name a few. Activities were all across the board from BBQs, to pool parties, to “play fair.” It was really the most fun that I’ve had in a while. Unfortunately I was unable to make “play fair” because we took an unexpected tour of the beach. During which I drove off the path and got my car stuck in the sand. We waited an hour for beach patrol to come with the truck to pull us out. It was a lot of fun regardless, but I had definitely learned a lesson there.

During my first week of classes I learned a lot about how to manage my time. I learned when and where to do my homework. It was the same back home, but I definitely need to take it more seriously now that I’m in college. While in college, each student is provided with a course schedule/syllabus which describes what will be covered each class and what homework is due for the next. This helps a great deal, especially when your professor verbally assigns homework and you’re not sure if you wrote down the correct task. Emailing and getting to know your professors is the key to success in college. You’ll get a better experience because your professors will get to know your learning abilities or disabilities and will work with you should any issues arise. College isn’t like high school, you are the person who needs to make the initial step of explaining to your professor if you’re not understanding something.

Constantly you will hear people talking about time management. It becomes very important, when you realize mom and dad aren’t there to help you with the chores. Laundry, cleaning and eating well are now your responsibility. You have to make time yourself to go partying or hang out with friends. You won’t be asking your parents if it’s alright anymore, because you’re the boss now. You won’t fully realize it until maybe the third day on campus.

Daytona Beach is definitely a great college town. Nearby are Stetson University, Daytona State College, UCF Daytona Campus, Keiser University and Bethune-Cookman College. The town is split into two main parts; Speedway and Beachside. Speedway is all shopping centers and chain restaurants and of course the NASCAR speedway. Beachside is where the beach hotels, thrift shops and clubs are located. Both parts of town are busy, however the beach is definitely the place to go on the weekends.

I’m glad I’ve finally made it to college. I’m still wondering whether or not I want to continue with my Aeronautical Science Major. It all depends on how my first semester here goes. I’d also like to mention that everybody is different with managing their time, regardless you learn different skills to better manage your time in the University 101 course.

Over and Out.