I took my private pilot checkride on December 26, 2016, and thank God I passed at the first go. My exam took place at San Bernardino Airport in California. San Bernardino is directly east of Los Angeles. Below are my notes from the examination.
We started the ground examination with currency: Know everything on currency for the pilot and the airplane
- Know the acronyms: IMSAFE, SAFETY AAV1ATE
- Next my examiner went over my weight & balance. For weight and balance simply know the things concerning load factor and center of gravity, are you too heavy? Are you within limits?
- He then went over my flight plan.
- After he asks me to brief him first on the weather from the print out I have; local weather, en route forecast, notams etc. Also, I briefed him on my planned route using the sectional chart.
- From the chart, he asked several questions on my route, airspace, Alert Areas, Restricted Areas, MOA etc.
- He created a few scenarios on unexpected weather that could happen during my flight. He wasn’t looking so much for definitions here but rather how safe I am as a pilot.
- VORs: Know as much as possible on VORs, FSS and Airspace. Know how to communicate with FSS via VOR frequency.
- Airspace: Mainly asked about cloud clearances for each airspace.
- An example scenario he gave; Assuming a TFR was issued (he drew a circle diagram) and you are within the shell of the TFR. What do you do to fly out of the area?
- Know your airplane’s speeds and limitations
- Know your pressure altitude, density altitude etc. Know how the difference in atmospheric pressure affects performance of the airplane.
- What is standard temperature and pressure? What are the lapse rates?
- He created several scenarios on these and he wanted to know things to consider about your destination/landing point before heading out.
- He also painted a similar scenario with Big bear. How does your airplane perform having high or low outside temperature?
- He didn’t ask anything specific on any of the weather charts. But he did create several scenarios on different weather situations.
- For weather, be prepared to use your knowledge and common sense to properly answer any of the scenarios your examiner gives you.
- Know when to make a GO or NO GO decision.
- Think; even when within legal limits, based on my skill level and experience, am I safe to make this flight?
- Know what type of engine your airplane has
- Know the 4 main functions of oil in the engine
- In flight, what can cause a rough engine, or loss of power? Based on your answer, then he asks; how do you remedy the situation?
- Know your fuel system.
- My examiner painted several scenarios on fuel, particularly on the use of fuel pumps. When and or where do you use the auxiliary fuel pump? High altitudes situation, engine failure situation, rough engine situation, in flight fire situation etc.
- In an emergency, what do you do? Hint: declare an emergency sooner than later.
- Know the basics on your electrical system.
- Know how to determine a bad alternator.
- What do you do in a situation of an alternator failing?
- What do you do in a situation of in-flight fire?
- You don’t have to be an expert on this but have some good knowledge about the avionics in your airplane. My examiner asked questions like, how does your MFD display work? As in what is working together to give you the information you see on your screen?
- I wasn’t as prepared for this part but luckily he didn’t ding me much for it.
- What is load factor? How does it affect your flight?
- How to recover from a SPIN: PARE
- Know as much as possible on night flights and the type of hazards one is exposed to flying at night.
- Know your Aeromedical Factors; Hypoxia, hyperventilation etc.
- Know what they are and the types of symptoms to determine each. My examiner gave a scenario of flying at high altitudes and one of my passenger was looking very out of it; you see their lips turn blue. What’s wrong with that passenger? What do you do to help them?
- Know the legal requirements for Oxygen usage in high altitudes
- Know the legal laws and limitation on alcohol consumption and scuba diving.
These were most of the things I can remember. My entire ground took about 1.5 hours. And it went by quickly.
Keep in mind Safety! Safety! Safety! That was the common theme in a lot of the questions I was asked. That and your ADMs.
On weather and airspace, if you answer the first few questions well, your examiner will likely just breeze through and move on without bothering you with in-depth stuff as it was in my case.
Word of advise: DON’T spend too much time on any particular question/answer or try to be a smart ass. During your knowledge test, the rule of thumb is to answer as simple and as precise as possible. If you try to go in-depth on an answer, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot, because the examiner will just grill you more on the subject matter.
Next was my flight examination!