Monday, July 14, 2014


Old NFO has a video on his blog that SO reminds me of my first flight with an FAA examiner upon completion of my flight lessons.

Being freshly signed off by my instructor with a fair load of compliments, naturally I thought that I was The Chosen One of civil aviation. And when the examiner showed up--a nice little grey-haired old lady--I figured that I had this thing in the bag. However as soon as we got started, she morphed into an emotionless, expressionless automation who could only tell me to perform manuevers, one after the other, and the only feed-back I could get from her came in the form of her pen making check marks or scribbling notes on her clipboard every time that I did something wrong. She never said a thing if I flew something flawlessly, but the slightest miscue on my part and that pen of hers was in action again. Eventually I started to obsess over that pen, and I was focusing more on the pen than I was on my flying. What was THAT mark for? What did I do wrong that time? Why won't she talk to me? Aargh!

Finally she told me to show her a short-field landing. I gave her one, and thought that it was pretty good, but all she did was arch an eyebrow and ask: "Is that what you call a short-field landing? Why don't you try it again." And the pen went wild. Convinced now that I was failing miserably, I gave it one last shot. I began my descent right where I should have, brought the power back and dropped my flaps, made good turns and lined up perfectly for a touchdown right on the numbers. Only problem was, now I was watching the pen and not my landing. I forgot to flare and I literally flew that poor C-150 right into the ground with a jarring impact that knocked that pen right out of her hand...or maybe it was the headset popping off of her head that did that.

The plane rolled to a stop and we just sat there for a few seconds, her and I, neither of us saying anything. She turned to look at me, as if waiting for an excuse or an explanation, but all I could do was give her a lame smile and say: "Uh, Any landing that you can walk away from is still good, right?"

Apparently not. She picked her pen up off the floor and wrote for like three minutes without saying a word after directing me to taxi back to the FBO. Then, after we parked and inspected the plane for obvious damage, she turned to me and said: "You know, you were doing REALLY good right up until that landing, and then I don't know WHAT happened."


But at least I passed on the second try.


  1. I can't remember my first check ride. It was too long ago, in 1973. But I remember some of my military flight instructors. The Navy guys tended to be pretty relaxed, the Marines were often real flamers. I had one who smoked a cigar constantly in the back seat of the T-28. Along with the ghastly heat, the normal aircraft smells of rubber, fuel,engine exhaust, sweat and leather, that was all I needed.

  2. HA! You would have fit right in with Old NFO last weekend.

  3. Yeah, 'target' fixation is NOT a good thing... even if it was a pen... :-)