Week Nineteen: The Pre Test

My last solo and the pre test for the PPL were the focus of this week. I completed my last solo nav to Stanthorpe and Casino early in the week, seizing the good weather. It was a fairly straight forward flight, CAVOK made for good flying and going to a new airport by myself was a nice challenge, thankfully I found the airport with no dramas, did a stop and backtrack, then took off for Casino. Traffic was light with not much operating around me and the rest of the flight continued without issue.

Then came the pre test, realising more than ever that the big PPL test was right around the corner. The pre test is meant to be everything you will do in the actual test, all the procedures, maneuvers and skills firmly put to the test to find any weak points and to get an overall picture for how you are flying. So a bit of pressure. We planned up Gold Coast – Stanthorpe – Lismore – Gold Coast and out we went. One of the first things I noticed was the cloud, I could see it when I was on the ground and made a mental note to keep an eye on it. As we climbed out I began to reassess the cloud, and once I could see more I eventually decided to descend and go below. A decision that could have been made sooner. I was contemplating whether to go on top of it but seeing as I haven’t done that yet, I wasn’t about to start on my pre test. Because we were lower and there was a westerly, the turbulence kicked up and did not relent, it was a bumpy flight.

Once we got out to Mt Lindsay, Jack put me under the hood and we did a lost procedure. I found an area and a town where I believed we were, then Jack prompted me on what I should be checking and I saw the compass and DI were way out of alignment, and I had been flying in a completely different direction than I thought. So I redid the lost procedure again and found where we should actually be. Jack explained that you need to work ground-to-map rather than map-to-ground as some smaller features on the map can be hard to spot and by trying to place them on the ground can lead to confusion. It’s better to just focus on what you can see and not get caught up on trying to spot every single feature you see on the map.

The rest of the flight had plenty more; stalls, steep turns, diversions, forced landings, precautionary search and landing, glides, circuits and more. By the time the flight was wrapping up I think we were both pretty beat from the constant bumping around. On a flight that lasted 3.9 hours, my longest yet, I was fairly physically and mentally drained by the end. As always there was a lot to learn from it, I think that my landings and final technique are improving and that I’m starting to develop an actual feel for it now. We also went over the ground theory component for the flight test, which is an oral exam with various questions about what the privileges and limitations of the PPL are, when life jackets are required and when they must be worn, refueling procedures, cost sharing and various other things, all of which can be found here in the CASA PPL Flight Test Report. This shows you everything you need to know and demonstrate during the flight test, and includes all the MOS references to look up if you want like I mentioned last week. To finish off the week on Friday, a previous student Dougal Walker came in and shared his story and gave us some advice on the industry which was really good, and Jack and I did some circuits and precautionary search and landings at Murwillumbah Airfield, another new place for me, to brush up and polish some things before the PPL test next week.

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