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My attempt to complete my checkride...and how I learned to hate wind.

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Well-Known Member
Apr 3, 2007
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Howdy folks,
A little progress report of my checkride...or my attempt to take and complete my checkride! Read on...

I rose before sunrise yesterday morning and started my early morning drive nearly colliding head-on with a huge buck on a rural road to the hangar. The biggest one this non-hunter had ever seen. I already had to reschedule my checkride 7 times due to weather, so I was really fretting over any little thing that could prevent me from finishing it this time around, and nearly colliding with deer was not a good start for the day. Perfect weather for them, and this road is deep in the hills out near Luckenbach (you know, that song by Willie?). I've driven enough to know that to get the deer quickly across the road, you simply turn off your headlights and they will scurry across.

45 minute later I'm at the hangar and notice what appears to a frost/mix on the grass. Very slippery stuff. It was a cold morning and I had trouble getting the engine started for the first time in a long while. Nice white exhaust to start the disc turning. Did a good soft-field takeoff and the 65 horses climbed like a home sick angel. Keyed my compass heading for the 2hr flight to my checkride destination, a small town in the middle of nowhere between Dallas and San Antonio.


I only have about 30 some hours total, but this was probably the most enjoyable flight I ever had the privilege to take (and flying IS a privilege these days). The air was silky smooth and the fog was just lifting out of the trees with a cozy sunrise on my shoulder.


I'm dead reckoning here because I can't afford a GPS right now..the money is used for avgas and my DPE's checkride fee. Slight tailwind. Pushing 80mph, not bad. Nothing out here but the hills and rivers. Not as pretty as some of the pics you all have posted, but still scenic to me. I'm constantly amazed at how accurate dead reckoning is. I've only been off my mark once in the past, but that was a lazy mistake. I'm not compulsive with the navigation idea. I just check once in a while to make sure I'm on my intended route. It's fun to me because it brings back some of the old school way of flying..and keeps me alert.

Shortly after I come into one of my fuel stops. YOu can see the Llano airport to the North (in pic below). A very popular spot for one thing and one thing only...probably home to the best BBQ pit in the State (Cooper's BBQ). It's no wonder their courtesy car is a 16 seat van. They load pilots in there and ship them off to Cooper's. How about a J3 Fly in here in the future? One runway is paved and the other is turf.


The airport was empty when I got there. Filled up on coffee and donuts someone left on a table and made sure to buy gas for the hungry Cub. I do a quick "CIGAR" check and notice I left the fuel cap back at the fuel station! I didn't taxi very far. Luckily no one saw me...or so I thought (later on my return back home, one of the workers told me not to forget my fuel cap :-[).

Back up in the air for 30 mins and now the land starts changing. Not much out there in the way of landmarks.


I pass one of my land marks, the San Saba airport a semi-private airport that is mostly used by Air Tractors (if you want gas, you got to arrange it with someone there). With no radio, I don't take pics near airports ...gotta keep my head on a swivel and not in the camera. Sorry for the long distance pics.


At about this time it started getting a little bumpy in the air. I did a weather briefing before the flight, but forecasts were showing the turbulence to come in in the mid afternoon. It's still early morning here. Time to eat my breakfast, a protein candy bar:

Now the air is getting REALLY turbulent. I raise one eyebrow and become a little concerned :-\ I have my personal limits but not sure where I am within this range at the moment. Now's a good time to start double checking my diversion airports. I estimate gusts are probably in the low 20s range..that's a tad bit over my limit. Wings won't stay level anymore..and I don't like it when ailerons are ineffective in keeping wings level and you feel like the airplane is going to flip around in the air. That happened once when I first started training with an instructor that, I believe, put me in danger so he could get a few more hours on the Hobb meter before I went home. When the ailerons are not effective, you know gusts are 30+. I was just within this range now, but just to be safe, I went to well below maneuvering speed so I could stall out instead of being tossed around. Just as things appeared to get worse, I was able to make it to my destination and quickly tie the airplane down. I really wanted to turn it into the wind, but the damn tie downs were aligned only one way...side exposed to the vast open Texas cattle fields where the wind was shooting from.


The photo you see above is just before things got out of hand. After that picture was taken, a HUGE gust of air blew and twisted the Cub to the side. At that point I knew it was probably better to get the airplane in a hangar. I did not see anyone on the tarmac. The tail rope came loose and I put all my weight on the tail to keep it down...it was a losing battle and I needed help quick. Finally a someone rushes out and I yell at him to help me get the Cub in the hangar..but he stands there and tells me it's the city's hangar and I have to call for permission first (permission was the last of my worries) I was debating whether to reinforce the rope on the tail or risk losing control of the aircraft if I cut it loose from the ropes. The wind died down for a little bit and we were able to quickly tow the airplane into a huge old WWII hangar. They had to move the FED EX Caravan out of the way for me (boohoo for them). They ended up letting me keep it in there for $20.



Alright, so what about the checkride? Well, I was a little worn out by then. However, I quickly pulled out my materials and they put me in an old crusty room there in the hangar with some of the old 1940s cartoon art that still lined the halls (very common in these old WWII hangars i've noticed). I met my DPE (whom was very quick to take my check I might add!) and we got down to business. Oral was a breeze. I might have stumbled on a little icing question: "What are the 4 kinds of structural icing?" I could not name all 4. I did mention the usual suspects like carb icing, frost, etc but that's not what he was looking for, so I'm not sure what the right answers were. At this time he had me get a weather briefing and plan a flight to San Angelo, which, I knew was NOT going to happen because that's the source of where all this wind was coming from. We began to watch weather and saw that some nearby areas were experiencing 54knot gusts. Being in demand, my DPE had checkride after checkride lined up with other students so I could not reschedule my flight portion until April 1 :mad: So, I went to the terminal and relaxed a bit, although a little upset about not being able to finish the checkride, but happy that I got the oral over with. Unfortunately weather was not going to improve at all that day. So, I stayed over that night at the airport and chewed the fat with a few local old-timers. Later on that evening I checked weather and things seemed to have calmed down, so I had a small chat with WX and they said that as long as I stay East, I'll be in the calmer stuff. Fly out was uneventful...but exactly 2 miles south of the airport i was VIOLENTLY rocked. It was a little hot that day, so I climbed thinking maybe I was flying too low ...but that only made it worse, so I tried to get back down to the ground and that helped some. At this point my ailerons were ineffective and it was very difficult to make a turn. I kept my speed slow and got the rudder to help push me back to the airport and I did a wheel landing and could barely keep the tail down despite some power. To make a long story short, I will never ever fly in this kind of weather again. Later I learned that the gusts were in the high 30s range in the area with winds at 28. Stupid mistake. I'm posting this hoping others will learn. Do not believe what FSS tells you 50% of the time! And use common sense.

This is what I felt like after this flight:


So I had the whole airport to myself as no one else was really flying that day. Just sat there and watched the sun set:


I did talk to one of the FED EX Caravan drivers the next day and he told me that he wasn't sure if he was going to make it out that night due to winds. That's when you know things were bad....when mail can't get delivered.

From now on, I fly in winds less than 15kts:) Just got home today and the ride back was not as jarring, but still some uncomfortable turbulence over the hills the closer I got to my home strip.

Damn OKies left their door open this weekend.

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