Twenty weeks of work all boils down to this point. The Private Pilot Licence. When you start it feels forever away then all of a sudden, almost without warning, you’re in the hot seat and it’s time to put everything you have learnt to the test. My testing officer or ATO was Merv Brewer, a highly experienced and well respected Pilot. I was keen to do my best and not let test nerves take over but rather just treat it as another flight, to stay calm, have confidence in the training and myself to put in the best effort I could.
I arrived nice and early on Monday morning to give myself plenty of time to plan and prepare the aircraft, taking my time being methodical to ensure nothing was being missed and double checking where necessary. Before long it was time to start, the first part of the test was an oral examination with various questions about the privileges and limitations of a PPL, minimum equipment, life jackets and so on. This went for about an hour before we took a quick break and then made our way out to the plane. This was really it now. Showtime. I followed the procedures and we made our way out to the runway, set take off power and off we went to Lismore. There we did all the various types of circuits before moving on to do some instrument flying under the hood, then stalls, steep turns, low level to Casino, precautionary search and landing, lost procedure and a diversion. Before I knew it we were back on the ground at Coolangatta.
I was pretty spent, it’s a hard flight. You put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform well. but I really did enjoy the flight, probably the most out of all thus far, I felt like I flew this one the best. Once we taxied back to parking Merv left me to pack up the plane and fill out the logs, I had a few minutes break before we went in for debrief and ultimately the result. We had a very thorough debrief, going through everything in detail including the oral examination. I’ll be the first to admit not every single thing was perfect, there are things I need to learn more about, procedures to be improved and skills that need to develop. I was told before coming in that I would learn a lot during this test and wouldn’t get everything right, and that was certainly true. Rather than let it beat me I used it as a chance to learn, to find out what I can do better, how I can improve and what can I change to be a better pilot.
I didn’t really want to spend this blog going through a by the numbers recount of the flight. Your school might do it differently and I would rather people have the experience that I did and keep the mystery. To me that isn’t the most important thing anyway, but rather how you go into the game mentally, how you prepare yourself mentally and physically. I’ve never been the biggest fan of tests and I’m not really sure who is, but I’ve developed strategies that keep me calm and focused, allowing me to do the best I can do and not be crippled by fear or anxiety. Be ready to learn, keep an open mind the whole time and work pragmatically. I did pass and am now a Private Pilot, well as soon as the licence turns up I will be. This is hardly the end nor is it all downhill from here, rather this is only the beginning, but I am pumped for the next phase and the future beyond.