By Natalie Miles, EAA 1478672
3:45 a.m. The sun is down, the sky is dark, my alarm goes off. It’s checkride day. My time to prove all the late nights and early mornings spent studying have been worthwhile. I have never been so excited to rise and start my day at such a time. I jump out of bed, make a coffee to chug, and a coffee to go. I grabbed my things and head to my car. The 3-hour time difference worked in my favor for once and I was able to call my parents and hear one last “good luck!” before my test. When I arrived at school, I set up my things at a desk and called to get a weather briefing while I anxiously awaited my DPE’s arrival. We started with an explanation of what the day’s plan of action would consist of, followed by completing forms/IACRA. After which the official checkride commenced.
The oral portion of the checkride went smoothly and after we finished my DPE had asked if I was always so calm. I was stunned that he had asked me this because a checkride is the most nerve-wracking event for a pilot in training. I may have seemed calm on the outside, but little did he know I was nervously sweating and rethinking every answer to his questions. After the ground portion, I prepared for the flight. He gave me a quick brief for the plan of action for the flight. We were going to tackle what we call the “Valley Rally.” The “Valley Rally” is where we go to at least three different airports around Phoenix and shoot an approach to landing. This flight is extremely task-saturating as there is constantly a task at hand. It is said you perform 70 percent of what you are capable of when under the pressure of a test. I would have to agree with this statement when comparing it to my checkride flight. The practical exam (flight) was not my greatest flight by any means, but having my greatest flight was not the goal. Following ACS standards was my goal. All I needed was to pass, and with a few little mistakes and corrections here and there, I was able to become an Instrument Rated Private Pilot. My DPE waited for me to complete my checklist then gave me a congratulatory handshake. I felt on top of the world!
After finishing the debrief and completing paperwork I was able to celebrate with friends. I am so thankful to be able to have others to share my achievements with. The night of my checkride I made a spontaneous decision to use my flight benefits to fly to New York and visit an old friend. The stress of the checkride had been lifted and I was lucky enough to earn a short break to spend on the East Coast. A big thank you once again to EAA, United Airlines, and United Aviate Academy. Thank you for believing in me to follow my dreams. Thank you to my family and friends from all over for supporting me through the ups and downs of training