CMEL Gouge  


Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 8
19/09/2018 5:12 pm  

Multi –
Started out typical. Go over IACRA if there’s mistakes he’ll help you fix them, logbook
requirements/endorsements, his fee $600.
He asked if I was able to print out the maintenance pages from the SW’s Flight Train
website, which I did. He likes to keep them for his records. I had him for my instrument
ride and the printer was down, he was ok with it, so it’s not deal breaker.
Went right into the maintenance log. He says: show me this aircraft is airworthy.
He spelled out exactly what topics he was going to be asking about. He said he had to
cover 3 systems.
Started off with Vmc. What is it? How it’s determined (SMACFLUM). What
increases/decreases Vmc. (Chart in the multi guide)
What is the published Vmc speed? I’ve seen both 56 & 57. He emphasized the word
“published”, so I gave him the POH answer of 56.
In a conventional twin, what engine is critical and why? (PAST)
I started with P-factor. I basically said: The descending blade has a higher AOA, which
creates more thrust. The ARM between the right descending blade is longer than on the
left engine descending blade, to the centerline of the aircraft, the right engine causes a
greater yawing force than the left engine, which makes the left engine critical.
He then said we didn’t need to cover the other three because they basically, in their own
way, cause the aircraft to do the same thing. But still learn them. I just watched a guy on
youtube, To Fly for a CFI. I copied his drawings and had them with me. XXXX didn’t ask
me to draw them, so I never got them out.
We then went over weight & balance. I just used the SW worksheet. He asked me about
the burn rate. I had come up with 9.3 at cruise, but forgot to double it for 2 engines.
Doh! He let me recalculate it and then was happy with the numbers.
Then performance: accelerate stop distance, etc. He asked me what Vr was for this
aircraft. 75. He asked, ok, when do you actually rotate? 78-80. He asked how much
does that add to the distance? 500-600 feet.
He asked about climb performance single engine. He asked how much climb FPM do
you give up with the blade NOT feathered? 200-300 FPM. How much with the landing
gear down? 240-250 FPM.
Next was fuel system. Crossfeed. How does the fuel selector work? For example, if the
left engine goes out, which selector do you move? Would you turn on a fuel pump? Yes.
Which one? The operating engine side. The fuel pumps suck fuel, not push fuel.
When does the POH say you can use crossfeed. Only straight and level or to
balance fuel load.
Landing gear. Parts & pieces. How does it work? Youtube vids again. How is it held
up? HYD pressure. If the red gear warning light flickers, what might this be an
indication of? Leak. What should you do? Lower the gear before fluid leaks out. How
do the pumps know the gear is fully up/down and to shut off. Up stop is based on
pressure, youtube vid says 1800 psi, it was the only reference I could find. Down stop is
based on down limit switches. Up limit switches only control the red warning light and
the green lights. What causes the red warning light/horn to come on? MP below 14-
15”, flaps 25/40 without the landing gear down and landing gear switch place in
the up position on the ground.
Last system was electrical. What components make up the electrical system? Battery,
alternators/voltage regulators, circuit breakers and various buses. What do you do
for a alternator malfunction? Switch it off and back on, if problem continues, shut
off, pull out checklist. What protection do the alternators have? Voltage regulators.
What does a climbing ammeter an indication of? Overvoltage/overcharging condition of
the battery. Turn off the alternator.
That was it for the oral.
He briefed the flight. He lays out what order you’ll be doing the maneuvers, but he’ll
remind you what’s next during the flight. I conducted a pre-maneuver checklist before
each, but sometimes we would come out of a turn. I just asked him if that counted as a
clearing turn and he would tell me yes or no. Just be sure to do one or let him say you
don’t have to.
He likes to go to Atmore, but with the weather we just went to the beach, not the
practice area, just due south and operated between Navarre bridge and the NAS
Engine fail on T/O. Idle, simulate brakes and continue with T/O.
Climbed up to 4500. Turned parallel to the beach
Steep turns
Slow flight w/ recovery
Power off stall
Power on stall
Accelerated stall
Engine fail w/ restart
Had me climb up to 6500, call ATC and ask for RNAV 17 with touch and go
Once vectored, he had me do an Emergency descent to the altitude I was cleared to.
Foggles on approach, visual at DH, normal landing w/ touch and go.
Normal pattern with normal landing, but wanted me to hit the 1000 foot marker, touch
and go.
Next was short field landing with stop and go for short field takeoff.
Then he told me to do another short field landing, but gave me go around short final.
It ended with an engine failure, after the go around, for a single engine approach.
Checkride passed. Good luck guys!!

This topic was modified 1 year ago 3 times by Jason

Larry, Erik and Chewie liked
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 8
19/09/2018 5:13 pm  




If you had a check ride with XXXX before, you know that it is not his mission to bust anyone; he wants you to pass. In short, the ride is yours to lose. Approach it from that standpoint and be prepared for the oral. It sets the stage for the ride. Show that you put forth the effort to learn the aircraft, its performance, and systems . . . it will make him feel better. It will absolutely make the ride better. If you slip on the oral; miss some obvious stuff . . . it will be rougher. To the point where he will be looking for something to stop the ride. I took my instrument and Multi rides with him. His approach to both were the same. He makes you feel at home; he does his best to put you at ease. He has a lot of break periods during the oral; use them. Admittedly, to this day he also has anxiety on checkrides . . . so he understands. He will do his best to help you through it. So, to instill that sense of “relax”, he does the easy stuff first, IACRA, logbook, maintenance logs. He will ask you to show him that the aircraft is airworthy. One word of advice, find everything in the maintenance logs and tab everything. Tab your logbook with the required flights and your endorsements. The SkyWarrior (SW) weight and balance/Airworthiness (AW) sheet has dates/times that need documenting that will correspond to the tabs you will place into maintenance logs. Take advantage of the last person that tabbed the book. You can use the existing tabs and move them around to the current page/inspection if you are lazy. I suggest you make your own tabs so that it is your handwriting on them that you are relying on. This way you know where everything is located and you can find it easier. I used the existing tabs to make it faster for me to find areas of importance, but took the time to make it neater. I used higher quality plastic removeable tabs, not the post-it note bullshit some people use because they tear off so easy. Use an ultra-fine sharpie to mark the tabs. I used pointer tabs (tab that has an arrow on the end) within the pages to direct me to specific dates (specifically ID an item). That kept me from sorting through a bunch of times/dates within the same inspection sticker. In most cases, I had an edge tab and a pointer tab. The faster you can find answers to his questions the more organized you will appear and the better it will go. Go step by step down the AW sheet showing each date/time. That being said, if there are mistakes, he will help you fix them. But know that he shouldn’t have to do that. It is your job. The less he has to fix, the faster you finish. Remember, he wants you to complete this ride and move on. Give him every reason to keep that sentiment. His fee is $600.


Copy your picture ID, Certificates, and Medical beforehand. He keeps these documents with your records. Have a paper copy of your IACRA and get the maintenance summary printed for your aircraft (Flight ops can print that for you). He will keep them for his records and refer to that document to ask questions about the AC (Questions about airworthiness). If you do not get it for him, he will go and get it himself. Having it on hand saves the time an old man has to walk . . . and he will get up and walk, count on it. If you get it, he will appreciate it. Again, the less he has to do, the better it is for you. I had everything laid out on the table. I was there before him. He sat and we went to work. After the aforementioned easy stuff, he goes into what the checkride will entail. He will step-by-step exactly what he is going to cover on the oral and ride. No surprises.


One thing to know about XXXX is that he is a practical pilot. The theoretical stuff (rote memorization stuff that you spit out during an oral) is great and you have to spit it out but expect him to ask you questions about it. He wants to know that you can use common sense and apply it to airmanship. So be on the edge of your seat for the “what does that mean to you” type of question. Be clear in answers; give the book answer but have an understanding that you can apply. For example, VMC. We know to use SMACFUM to help define contributing factors (conditions) to VMC but how does it apply and how will it apply to the AC you are flying. Use the chart in the Multi Guide to know that up to 5 bank (raise the dead engine) improves the single engine condition. The rest are a detriment or worsens VMC. Be able to speak to how the critical engine is determined (PAST). Make it less of a recital and more of a discussion. I spit out what the acronym stood for and began discussion of P-factor. He stopped me halfway through it . . . said that was enough. He asked me a question on spiraling slipstream and how a conventional twin differed from the aircraft we were going to fly. I stated that the Seminole didn’t have a critical engine and that both engines contributed to spiraling slipstream against the vertical stabilizer which improved VMC. I think he would have stayed there if I didn’t have that understanding. Again, he will touch on things but won’t linger if he feels you have command of the subject. He stated that he had to cover 3 systems. He started with the fuel system which I drew on the board. To help you, go to the SkyWarrior (SW) google drive, then Multi Engine folder, and then to the video subfolder. I ripped the five 2Fly4aCFI videos from YouTube into MP4’s and put them there. In this format, they can be viewed without an internet connection and is a faster load. Know the Fuel, Electrical, Vacuum, Hydraulic, and Prop Governor. Be able to draw them and discuss the nuances. For instance, when I drew the fuel system, I included the Naka and Scupper drains on the fuel tanks. He was surprised that I went into that detail (I didn’t consider it detail). I drew the priming system with detail and discussed the three cylinders that had the primers and what the other cylinder was used for (manifold pressure). He told me always forgets which cylinders does what and that I refreshed his understanding (yeah . . . right!). Putting that out there in discussion, killed a few of his questions. After I drew the fuel system and explained it, he stated that I should get a job with Piper drawing their schematics (whatever!). Preston had me prepare to that degree; I can draw these in my sleep. You should be able to do that too. So you know, XXXX will compliment you and give assurances through verbal (YES! GOOD!) and signs (THUMBS UP, OK Sign). Take that in stride, if you see/hear that, it is a sign that you are doing well. XXXX asked questions about the crossfeed, how it worked, and when to use it. Simply put, the switch gets its fuel from one of two places. If the Right Engine Switch is ON, it gets its fuel from its Right tank. If it is in Crossfeed, it gets it from the left tank and that I should only use it in straight and level flight or to balance the fuel load. That simple description made him smile. Simple/easy -- not a lot of bullshit. He wanted to know if the fuel pump would be turned on . . . I said of course because the fuel pump didn’t push fuel, it sucked fuel. In doing this, I killed a few follow up questions. During my explanation, I was able to trace the fuel paths on my drawing. XXXX didn’t have me draw anymore systems. He just touched on a few other systems with questions. For instance, when I began going over the electrical system, he asked about power sources. I gave the ratings on the battery and L & R alternators . . . it killed a few more of his questions. Give answers with a little depth. This is not a military checkride where you answer the objective question with an objective answer. Answering with a simple but potentially incomplete answer doesn’t work here. DPE’s will dig. If you get them digging they will send you down a rabbit hole and we will never see you again. Remember, he will not dig if your answers have depth. When he is satisfied, he will leave that subject . . . move on. He used the opportunity to cover some emergencies when talking about the electrical system. In specific, the alternator has an annunciator light. The <ALT> light is for a failing, failed or inop alternator (Not Altimeter; common mistake). Voltage is controlled (high and low) with a voltage regulator. Know the +/- normal range. If it is charging too high, the Voltage Regulator at 17 Volts should take it off line. If it doesn’t, know that the regulator has failed. The danger? Battery overcharge and potential explosion. The first line of defense is the circuit breakers. I stated that you should check those first, and I killed his follow up questions. Erratic readings (high or low) require an immediate action. Cycle the switch, if the issue persists turn it off and see the other system take the load. He likes the Hydraulic system and asked questions about what holds the gear up (pressure) and what turns off the pump when retracting? Pressure switch at 1800psi. What turns it off during extension? Limit switches. He wanted to know what is happening when the red-light flickers (potential leak/low pressure/low fluid). What is the immediate action? Slow down below VLO (DOWN) and lower gear ASAP. This is an example on how he digs out the V-speeds!! He asked about the emergency pressure release valve (dump valve) and how it worked (equalize pressure between high and low pressure). Gravity drops the gear. Know what three situations cause the gear horn to activate (manifold pressure, flap position, switch up when on the ground)


Know the V-speeds. He didn’t ask for them specifically in order or give me a . . . “tell me what the VMC speed is?” type of question; he has ways of digging that info out in discussion. For instance, VMC? He got that out of me in flight. Know what flap/gear extension/retraction speeds are. What the range of the white arc is and what V-speeds it correlates to. Know what V-speeds correlates to the red and blue lines. He will get to it if you don’t offer it up. That is what I did. “Red line, VMC, 56KIAS.” That is how he uses the knowledge of the v-speeds; the application of them. During my emergency descent, he asked me what speed I was going to retract the gear. I told him as long as the airspeed was slowing through 110, by the time I got to the retraction switch, it would be below VLO (UP). He was happy that I was not going to stare at the airspeed indicator but rather use the speed as a limit (again, a practical pilot) he wanted to know that I would be outside clearing my aircraft. On your emergency descent, if you don’t S-turn or Spiral down, it will not end well for you. Don’t baby the controls either, get 120 KIAS (His recommended speed) and get enough of a bank that you can actually look under the aircraft. In the past, someone descended into a friend of his . . . killed him. This is one of his peeves.


When he went over the maneuvers, he asked a lot of “what would I do . . . “type of questions. First, if you can’t talk through the maneuver (configuration, speeds, procedure, recovery), you may not get to the preflight. He wanted to hear me say it first. I literally went through maneuvers until he was satisfied that I had my shit straight. I think I talked through 5-6 of them. Along the way he asked me common sense questions on why we were doing it and what the maneuver was simulating. I think he doesn’t want to be surprised at altitude. Remember to use the checklist. He is evaluating you on your use of it. After a procedure, remember to state “backed up with the checklist” (have it in your paws too). Also, remember that there are Checklist placards on the dash, specifically the landing checklist. If you are using GUMPS for landing procedure, remember to back it up with something printed (I pointed to the dash and stated “backed up”). He was happy to know that I knew to configure 25”/2500 at 1000’ and 21/2400 at cruise. Also, that the higher I went that the manifold pressure dropped and I had to keep adding throttle to keep my climb. After I changed configuration a few times, he did it for me when I was busy. He likes to personally lean out the engines and has a way to do it that makes him happy. I didn’t argue with him and it lightened my load. Just so you know, he didn’t do that until I showed him that I knew to do it and repeated it several times. I didn’t do it exactly how he did it, but it was the book way and how Preston instructed me to do it. It was only an inch and 100rpm or so different so no big deal.

I used the new SkyWarrior PA-44 worksheet for weight & balance. It is actually the ATP sheet but I revised it and put it in the Multi folder on the SW google drive as SW PA-44 airworthiness-checklist.pdf. I also cut out the performance charts from the POH and saved that as performance charts.pdf in that same folder. I used those charts to fill out the W & B data on the worksheet. Laminate all the charts. I used an ultra-fine red sharpie to mark the charts (use a dry erase marker to erase it). During a ground session, Preston asked me a lot of follow up questions derived from the charts. There was no place to write it in so I scribbled it in the margins. Once done, I had no idea what number went with what. So, to ensure I had a place to put that data, knowing I would be asked questions like that, I added info blocks on the new worksheet. It forced me to use more of the charts. I got to know them better and was able to navigate through them like I was a pro. There are places for T/O (heavy A/C) data and Landing (fuel burn or lighter A/C) data. For instance, not every T/O will be full of fuel. Having another block to write in T/O data that isn’t max weight helped me answer questions. Use it as you see fit. Having that info on the sheet, kept XXXX from asking too many follow questions because he saw that the data was already on the sheet. He knew I already looked it up and was prepared for situational instances at both heavy and light configurations, single engine operations, single engine climb/land/roll out performance, etc. Know that the burn rate has to be doubled for 2 engines. On the charts, read the data in the boxes and in the margins. That is fodder for questions. XXXX will try to stump you with that type of data. If you know where to find the data he is asking for, it becomes easy. We went over accelerate stop distance, etc. He asked me about what Vr was for the Seminole 75. Then when does the A/C actually rotate about 80. Then followed how much it added to the distance about 500’ and was I planning on that extra distance. When we took off, we had about 6000’ of useable runway (RWY 8 @ B2). How much did I use to rotate? . . . about half of it. How much did I need to get the A/C to the ground and stop if there was an engine failure? . . . about half of it. Did I have enough runway? Probably not. The premise was when would I retract the gear? Would I wait until there was no runway under me or when there was not enough runway to logically land in the event of an emergency? He wants to know what you are thinking and what you will do. I talked about the advantage between more efficient climb performance versus not enough runway to make a precautionary landing. Where that point was is up to the conditions of the day but wanted to know what I was thinking. Whatever your answer is, back it up. He will educate you, take that education. When covering climb performance on a single engine, he wanted to know if I knew the vertical speed loss due to drag. Specifically, blade not feathered? 300’ and gear down 250’. Zero sideslip . . . he wanted to know if I understood the concept and how to set up the aircraft and what the instruments would look like. The book answer of 2-3 is not wrong but I was already on top of where he was going. I used the “whatever the aircraft needs to achieve zero sideslip” made him smile. Sometimes it is more, sometimes less. These are the types of questions you can expect from the W & B card. After that, the oral was complete. It was about 2 hours, but it didn’t seem that long. Flight wise, we were weathered out so I had to finish 2 days later.


On our flight day, he briefed everything we were going to do. Of course, he left a lot open to account for any potential weather issues. In flight he told me what maneuver was going to be next. Remember 3 C’s (clearing turns, configure, communicate). To me the most important is communicate. I talked through what I was going to do to let him know what was about to happen. That way if I was going to do something stupid, he had a chance to throw me a bone. Preston’s manner of beating clearing turns into my head was to state the 3 C’s each time I performed a maneuver. However, I didn’t do that until the last two flights and maybe I should have been doing them all along but by doing it that way, I was hypersensitive to clearing turns and didn’t miss one (method to the madness?) In some cases, XXXX said why would we do a clearing turn? (we just did one i.e., steep turns). I left that up to him, but I never took it for granted. I didn’t ask, I did it as a matter of procedure and let him dictate the situation. In a sense, it was a godsend that we were doing the flight at the beach. We had to keep doing 180 turns to stay within the practice area. The Seminole is so fast that we traversed back and forth between each maneuver.


Because of the weather we went to the beach practice area (pretty much the entire south side). He failed my engine on takeoff. Simple stuff. Normal T/O after that. He had me request the beach at 5500’ but had to settle for 4500’ remember you are the PIC. If clouds keep you from what he wants, amend it. Once in the practice area, he asked for steep turns. However, the steep turns he had me do were a little non-standard. He had me do a right steep turn and level off. I lost about 100 feet. He had me get back to 4500’. Then he had me do a left steep turn. I kept this one at 4500’. He then asked me to do another right steep turn . . . that one was better; about 50’ off. He then had me do a power off stall. To that point, I had only done slow flight into a power off stall (easy set up). Practice them apart so you establish a comfort doing it that way. Although it is easy both ways, doing something for the first time during a checkride is not ideal. I recovered from the stall and he had me slow flight with a couple of turns. He wanted to see me clean it up, and level off. He used the turns for clearing turns to set up for a power on stall (I was already configured for it) then an accelerated stall. He then failed an engine and had me secure it. I restarted it and while we were waiting for it to warm back up, he had me do a VMC demo. In doing the demo, make sure you get back to 88KIAS before you request to recover the engine. Don’t let him think you are using the dead engine for recovery. He expects this all to be simple stuff and just a formality.


In total, he failed the engine three times. The first was on the initial takeoff rollout. If you screw that up, expect to roll back to Innisfree. The second was just prior to my instrument approach. Typically, it is about 3-5 miles from the final approach fix. The third was enroute to the instrument approach where he failed it and had me feather then restart. Every time he fails it, he is looking at your heading and airspeed. This is a place where it can go south on you. If you are off on either, tell him you are correcting. Remember the Checklist but do not mire in it. Do an item, check instruments, do an item, check instruments, etc. I could tell he was hard up on basic airmanship. Preston told me to expect it; he wasn’t wrong. Remember to close the cowl flap; keep it warm. After recovery remember the 15” until the temp comes up. Remember to re-open the cowl flap. Complete the checklist!! He had me climb to 6500’.


The next part is where it got weird and took a left turn from any gouge SW has on XXXX. He asked for the controls and put us in a lazy left turn while he had me look up RNAV 36 into Milton (2R4, the only approach). I had never been there. Additionally, the wind was 140 16G22. Circle to land? He asked me if I wanted to do that and that it was my decision. I was uncomfortable, but went for it because there was a reason he was going to do it. I am unsure whether he was comfortable with me or not but I felt that if I messed up something small, he would throw me a bone. So, I studied it for about 5 minutes then briefed it. I briefed a straight in 36 to see if he was going to have me circle to land. He told me to look at the circle to land minima (answered that question). Once I had the GPS loaded and my foreflight set up, he transferred the controls back to me. He had me do an emergency descent down to 2000’ (remember the descent and flap speeds). I called approach and made my request to Milton and stated we had the airport in sight. I turned to an intercept heading of my final approach course. The best part was that we changed frequency to the CTAF and XXXX became my ATC. The radio calls were a lot easier; he made some of them. It didn’t stop him from failing my engine though . . . he stated that we were having trouble with the right engine all day . . . I secured it. It was a LNAV+V so after intercept, so I flew it to about 700’ AGL, he had me go visual. The real-world problem was the manifold pressure gauge wasn’t reading correctly. He simulated the feathering with a little R ENG power but I never felt it. I got to 88KIAS, full left throttle but was still losing altitude. MDA for the Circle to Land was 660 and I knew I was going to drop below it. I tried to bleed a little airspeed for altitude (milk it) but I went below 75 to stop the descent by that time, I was at 600’ (I had busted). He had me enter into a right downwind but it was the right engine that was failed (wrong side for training; I should be raising the dead left engine, dammitt). He told me to check my altitude/airspeed. I told him of the issues I was having with power. He didn’t see my issues until I told him. Quickly, he troubleshot the manifold pressure gauge and gave me a little more throttle; found that we were getting no power at pressure he normally uses for simulated feather. He said that was on him and that I was OK but to get my AS/ALT back. When I got the bump from the right side I was finally able to fix the Altitude/Airspeed just as I was turning base. I used a wider than normal pattern in order to make a shallow turn to final. He wanted to know what flap setting I was going to use and when I was going to drop the gear and flaps. I told him based on winds and my A/C performance to do either before any of my turns would be dangerous and that because of wind, I was going to use 10. Straight in approach, different story. Circle to land . . . zero sideslip. He agreed with my decisions. After I got the power bump, I kept 90 KIAS throughout. I configured for landing in downwind sans the flap/gear. Also, I did not level off on base. Because of my right failed engine, I just kept the shallow bank all the way to final. He liked the minimal use of control inputs. On final, I clicked in flaps 10 and dropped the gear. I conducted another before landing and verified with the dash CL. I kept 88KIAS until short final and gradually slowed to 75 or so until touchdown. It was a little hot but I had great directional control. Just after touchdown, he gave me back the throttles. I went to drop the flaps and he flipped. He doesn’t like doing anything but aircraft control until you are off the active runway (another of his peeves). After you configure on final, don’t touch the radio, flaps, NOTHING, etc. until you are stopped on the taxiway. We back taxied for a short field T/O (Milton is only a 3700’ narrow runway). We returned for a short field landing. Back taxi again. My option T/O (I used normal; easier) to another short field landing. He said he had to mess with me . . . this time, he had me reject the landing and go around. Remember your clean up steps. Chair fly that as you will do it for your clean up from power off stall too. On my last pattern, he failed my left engine. This time I used flaps 25 and I was able to put it in the same spot as the short field landing. This time smoother and slower. He told me to take him home.  I dialed up the RNAV 17 and shot that approach without the foggles. He seemed to like that. Greased the short field a few feet past the start of the 1000’ marker.


I know this was long but wanted you to know what I was thinking and some of the peeves that XXXX has. Most importantly the direction (mis-direction) the ride could go. Hopefully, you can use this to better prepare yourself for this ride. In all, it wasn’t bad. After a rough start (steep turn), I began to have fun. I wish you all the same fun and the best of luck. See you on the line.


This post was modified 1 year ago 3 times by Jason

Chewie liked
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 8
19/09/2018 5:22 pm  

Stolen from someone else!

The Epic Multi-Engine Oral & Practical Test Diary


  • Conducted IACRA and logbook review with CFI and SW Chief Pilot several days before.
  • DPE recommended and initially arranged by CFI and SW front desk.
  • XXXX sent an e-mail with a Schedule/Letter of Appointment that had a template for how he runs the show, including his price ($600).

Oral (~2 hours)

  • General - The day started off oddly because XXXX had asked us to go to Peter Prince (Milton) airport to start the flight but he had forgotten and was at KPNS when we were about to land at Prince.  He distinctly mentioned several times throughout the day that he did not like operating out of or around KPNS. It is likely he will continue to try and base out of an airport away from KPNS.
  • Personality & Demeanor – XXXX was straightforward, by the book, but still conversational and friendly.  He never came across as domineering. Throughout the oral he would follow up with his personal opinions whether the answer was right or wrong.  I got the impression he was an educator (tech school?) with a lot of flight instruction in his background. A lot of what he said was very interesting and very pertinent…and there was no way I could have prepared for it.  It was clear that he was interested in what I knew beyond rote memorization. Almost all of his questions were asked to see if I knew what was behind the “answer” but I really think this was more of his teaching coming through and not that I would really know.  More on those questions later…
  • Paperwork – he started off straight away with the basic paperwork drill (show IDs, Cert, Med, etc.) and then logged on to go through the IACRA process online.  No surprises.
  • Oral Preliminary Comments – he went through the background of the oral and what the FAA expected him to do.  He also mentioned the difference between PTS and ACS. He noted that the ‘standard’ for knowledge was 70% for each standard and that failure to answer correctly was not an automatic fail.  He also talked about the parameters for maneuvers and that the philosophy was that you recognized errors and deviations and made corrections. He emphasized that go-arounds, slowing down, stopping a maneuver, etc. were good and showed good aeronautical decision making.  Lastly, he noted that if there was a flight stopping/failing action he would note it immediately so I knew where I stood.  Otherwise, he said if he was quiet things were going well.
  • Questions and Discussion – he basically went line by line through an outline of the ACS for the flight to ask questions.  Here is what I can remember:
    • Airworthiness – zero questions. He just reviewed the official maintenance log. I had AVIATE, ATOMATOFLAMES, FLAPS, and GRABCARD loaded and ready to blow him out of the water.  Better to be overprepared I suppose… He’s probably sick of those things at this point. He actually made a joke of our acronyms but I would still be prepared with them.
    • Weather – no questions other than our pilot-to-pilot talk about how the sun might have been a cooler place to be on that day.  While walking to the plane later I made a point to mention that I had checked weather, NOTAMS, etc. but it was either too hot for him to care or he assumed I was a professional pilot (big assumption).
    • Cross Country Planning – no questions.
    • National Airspace System – no questions.
    • Performance and Limits:
      • Weight and Balance.  No questions that challenged how I did the W&B but he asked me if the forward CG for our flight was good or bad.  The only answer I could think of was “good” for Vmc purposes. This activated some random brain cells and I remembered some info on how CG forward is more stable/less efficient so loading aft could help.  He acted like I read his mind. He went into a scenario where we loading people/cargo at an airport with high obstacles and an engine that I wasn’t totally confident in. He really didn’t end up actually asking the question (would I move weight aft for performance and forward to hedge on a engine loss) but talked about the scenario for some time.  This scenario was a pretty classic example of how he likes to look behind the numbers/info to see if you have a deeper understanding but might not expect you to know.
      • He asked me how VMC was determined.  I gave him SMACFLUM out of the SW Multi-engine guide.  He said no. “A” is Max Gross Weight, not most adverse weight.  And he added, “out of ground effect” and “windmilling prop” as corrections.  I haven’t followed up to confirm if he is right or the ME guide is right but I would if I were sitting in front of him again (hint, hint).  He then went through each of those criteria and asked how a change would affect Vmc. Actually, it’s a simple question but the way he asked it confused me a bit.  He said he didn’t like two of my answers so he asked me to go back through, which I did. Easy corrections and it gave him a chance to explain some things he wanted to explain.
      • Pilot performance info not reviewed.  However, I did inform him that our situation was on the edge of single engine climb on takeoff because I wanted him to know we would be on the edge for those maneuvers.  He explained very specifically how he introduced emergencies and if he did something it wasn’t necessarily because I did something wrong.
      • He had me go through each chart in the PoH Performance Section.  I had the PoH on my iPad for my own reference and we used that. Recommend having the PoH available. Most of the charts are pretty straight forward and I talked about them on the fly or he said skip it. He specifically asked about the single engine climb table and using it in reverse for Single Engine Service Ceiling.  He then asked me what would happen above that altitude if we lost an engine (i.e. drift down). He also that noted that since the table uses temperature with PA, it is essentially correcting for DA for you. He also asked how I would use (in real life) the Accelerate Stop table information. He stopped at the Fuel, Time and Distance to Descend table to tell me how that info is important for bigger/faster planes.  It was one of his several diversions where he went into teaching mode without asking questions.
      • He gave me a scenario about going into a high-altitude airport and what would change for stall, landing, and takeoff distance.  I had a momentary brain freeze and said stall speed would increase (d’oh! Stall IAS is not affected by altitude) but caught myself.  But landing and takeoff distances would increase due to increased TAS/groundspeed. He did a segue to the stall and angle of bank chart to point out that there was no temp/altitude input.
      • He asked me how I would configure the aircraft when conducting a single engine instrument approach.  I told him I would put the gear down at the FAF and the elaborated on how I had NOT put them down on a training flight in order to save them for “landing assured” and then forgot to put them down.  He went into a long explanation of accidents where people put gear and/or flaps down when they were already at their single engine limit prior to landing. He wasn’t saying don’t do it but he was saying check your power and speed and make sure you have the margin.  He clearly recommended NO flaps until landing was assured. Later, I put the gear down a the FAF without hesitation and no comment from XXXX
      • He discussed his technique for SE landings where he taught people to come in high and then essentially glide in for landing (assume long runway) so that you don’t need to manage off-center thrust, etc.  He wasn’t pushing for that and told me not to try that on the flight if I had not been doing that before. Just another teaching point.
      • He gave me a scenario where I had just rotated on takeoff, was climbing out, looked to the side at something, heard/felt a major change in the aircraft, and the looked up and realized we were upside down. “What do you do?”.  I was thinking unusual attitude and said throttles to idle, roll wings level, etc. He liked the answer but his question was intended to get people who said they would try to roll without knowing what engine had failed.  He noted that if you pull the throttles you are glider and as a pilot you know how to fly so the ? in the equation has been removed.  Right answer, wrong reasons for me but I’ll take a lucky guess any day.
    • Human Factors – zero questions.
    • Speeds
      • Va – he asked what it was.  I gave the standard response about speeds for safe maximum deflection of flight controls.  He then said I was right but the whole definition was wrong because it doesn’t account for multiple control max deflections.  Recommend giving the standard answer so he can elaborate on his topic. Teaching point for him.
      • Vso, Vmc, Vs – he asked me to recall these three and then asked me how I felt about how close the speeds were together, especially since the airspeed indicator can’t actually show you those numbers with the fidelity.  I told him that those three that close together signified the edge of the envelope where you would stall and lose directional control at the same time. He then asked what the definition of that was. I was totally blank.  His response: a spin. He did not ask me the spin recovery though. I do think that this envelope limit impacts how he flies the check ride. During slow flight I flew 60 KIAS and he did not ask for any turns, etc. He was definitely paying attention when we were slow.
    • I was provided another scenario that I had not contemplated before.  Suppose you have lost an engine and the airport has “X” runways so all of them have a crosswind/headwind/tailwind component. “What runway would you choose?”.  My kneejerk answer was that I clearly wanted a headwind and that reduced the choices to two and then took a few seconds to contemplate. With a right engine failure, winds from the north I went with a left crosswind assuming that weather cocking/increased slipstream on the left side would increase rudder effectiveness and decrease the requirement for left rudder to counter right yaw.  He said I was right but I looked it up afterward and became more confused with forums. But, then again, that seems to be the purpose of forums. Talk to a CFI for that one.

Flight (2.2 hours)

  • Preflight – no questions.  He let me do the preflight and helped with tie-downs and the light checks.
  • Flight Deck Management.  He pointed out that I was PIC for this flight and that it was my show.  He asked me what my philosophy on checklists was. I responded that if time was of the essence I would conduct checklists from memory and refer back when conditions allowed.  He agreed and then explain that completing a “checklist” without a paper is acceptable to the FAA. I think he point was ultimately that breaking out the paper checklist was not always good and I wouldn’t get dinged for memory items.  He is a fan of “flows”.
  • Engine start, etc. was all normal.  Runway 26 was in use so he asked to do the runup in the remote corner of the Innisfree parking area to avoid taxiing against traffic and save time.  I didn’t have a problem with it but then thought maybe he was fishing to see if I would do a shortcut and that this was a CRM drill. [Yes Jason, I was overthinking this.]  I confirmed we only had grass behind and runup wouldn’t pose harm to anything/anyone. I don’t think XXXX would intentionally ask for something that would cause a deviation…just my opinion.
  • Holding short for the runway for two departures and two arrivals he asked me about how to cross-feed an engine.  I told him and he said I had it backward. I swear he confused the engines he had initially told me were on and off , but no way I was going to argue.  That should be a softball if he asks… and I think that was what it was intended to be.
  • On takeoff, he pulled a throttle at 500’ AGL.  As I worked through the checklist he would (as pre-briefed) make an adjustment to preserve the failed condition.  So when I went mixture, props, throttles forward. He brought a prop back when I pushed the throttle up. He may have also adjusted the mixture but I’m not certain, although I am positive he adjusted the mixture later to get failures.  In fact, after bringing the prop to feather and mixture to ICO, I think he immediately brought the mixture back before the prop actually stopped spinning. A CFI may be able to better explain how he managed this but, as pre-briefed, I actually performed each corrective action – no ‘simulate’ throttle/prop/mixture.
  • Managing the emergency immediately after takeoff from KPNS was a handful because the switch to departure, turn to assigned heading, and leveling all came at once.  I blew through the standard VFR 1,700’ limit and I think he gave me the pass because my headset was clearly on fire from the emergency, radios, and then power/prop adjustments to get the plane back in control.  After the prompt on altitude I had some time to clean up checklists, which is an obvious point to emphasize. He never called for a checklist.  He just said what he wanted.  Deferring back to the checklist and starting from a known point saved me from mistakes later when I was tired.
  • At the handoff to approach I requested vectors for the ILS 27 at KJKA (he chose that for me during runup and I was able to sneak some of the nav setup in at the hold short).  Foggles on as soon as we were at altitude and stable. Approach provided a nice intercept while I did the normal briefs step-by-step. It always takes me a few minutes to get my scan going so I went slow.  I also got momentarily confused with the Garmin (I still don’t feel like an expert on what info it is providing at various points) and thought we were way closer. I mentioned we might not have glide slope and quickly briefed the LOC approach on top of the ILS.  He asked me how far we actually were from the FAF and I realized that the field I was looking at on the Garmin was not the distance field I was used to looking at on the free Garmin 430 simulator you can get for your computer. Kind of a simple thing but it made me think that I might setup my Nav page fields exactly how I want them in the future so I’m not inheriting something new to scan.
  • Single engine failure near the glide-slope, who saw that coming [sarcasm], but pretty standard.  SE landing and probably my best of the day and a full-stop landing. All of the stops with XXXX are full stops with a taxi back on the parallel taxiway.
  • He called for a short-field takeoff, zero flaps. He said he will never do a 25 degree flap takeoff.  This maneuver is in the PoH but not the SW standard maneuvers list.  He failed an engine upon the release of the brakes.
  • Short field landing.  He emphasized that waving off was a good thing and asked me where I would land. I said on the 1000’ marker.  He asked what part. I said something stupid like ‘where the paint starts’. At about 50’ on the way to the aiming point he asked me if I thought we would touchdown on my spot.  I said yes. He said, are you sure? WAVEOFF! So I went around and had to chop the throttle to hit the mark on the next run. It was ugly but he didn’t say anything.
  • North of KJKA for maneuvers.   From what I could tell we went through all the maneuvers but he sequenced some of them in a way that could have bit me.  He asked for power off stall descending and turning and fully configured for landing. So I guess that’s a power-off accelerated stall?  He also asked for slow flight (no turns or descents) then asked to increase my speed to 80. As soon as I hit 80 he failed an engine. It was the first time I had done the emergency procedure and actually moved the flaps and gear up.  After the flight he said that 50% of time people say it and don’t do it. I could do it again and easily skip past it – say and do. He gave me a wing fire and asked for an emergency descent. No big deal but as soon as we recovered he immediately asked for steep turns.  Although we had typically transitioned between maneuvers pretty seamlessly in training, I started back at a “cruise for maneuvers” point for each maneuver on this flight to try to keep things consistent. This saved me at this point. I realized the gear was still down from the steep descent and brought them up.  I would not have caught that with the standard checklists. That is a total “gotcha” opportunity and I think that was one of his little tests. So, as mentioned, I recommend returning to a basic starting point before each maneuver. Again, he just asks for the maneuver and not a checklist. My recommendation after each maneuver – return to the maneuver power/prop setting, do a quick check of configuration, clearing turns, and then pre-maneuver checks.  Steep turns were last. We returned VFR back to Pensacola, got the standard two 360s in the downwind and vectors to the east, that totally pissed him off, and then proceeded in to do my worst landing ever in the PA-44.
  • No post-flight debrief.  He shook my hand on shutdown and we went back into the air conditioning to do the final IACRA signatures.  He left and then I panicked because he didn’t endorse my logbook. After several calls and e-mails he contacted me and said a logbook endorsement is not required.  I’ll take his word for it since I have a temp cert with ME and, hopefully, one in the mail soon.

Bottom Line

I would choose XXXX again.  He is not a Santa Claus but I felt that he compensated for my deviations based on the totality of circumstances.  Like any check ride with a reasonable instructor I think you can build some credibility in some areas to compensate for errors you make later.  XXXX specifically noted some examples where he failed people who accepted deviations and did not correct. I had no issue with the fact that he spent some time providing some education along with the questions he asked.  In fact, I appreciated it. The flight was 2.2 which he stated is .5 too long for an AMEL Add-on and not his preference but we had to deal with some delay at KPNS.

He seems to be a very experienced DPE and I made it a point to be open to his comments.  I took the advice of my CFI and XXXX, himself, and treated the flight like I was by myself, kept things at my pace (when I could), and tried to be proactive (verbal and actual) with corrections to fly the plane.

This post was modified 1 year ago 2 times by Jason

Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 18
29/09/2018 9:43 am  

Great writeup and a good review for me as my CMEL add-on is tomorrow...


a couple of points from ATP-CTP, after re-reading the crosswind with engine failure scenario I realize I misread it the first time.  My answer would be exactly the same. Arguably there's no critical engine on a jet, but Vmcg was demonstrated in a 737 sim during ATP-CTP, and based on that I'd pick the crosswind on the failed engine side every time for the same purposes you chose.  I put the 737 into the grass trying to get it under control when he failed the engine at about 80 knots with a 30 knot crosswind from the failed engine side. And I knew it was coming and responded quickly (I think).


I would encourage everyone to do exactly what you did.  Set up the aircraft for the maneuver you're about to do. This means if you're in slow flight and they ask for stalls, it's probably better to come out of slow flight first, then set up for your power-off stall instead of roll right into the maneuver. It ensures you check everything to be ready for the next maneuver, since you don't necessarily know what the DPE will ask for next. I'd rather take a little extra time on the check ride to make sure I'm doing it right than to come back and pay the aircraft price plus an additional DPE fee because I was trying to get it done quickly. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.


In my experience, most DPEs are former CFIs that really loved teaching.  If they go into "teach" mode, nod your head and throw your CFI under the bus (this works when you're my student, I probably shouldn't recommend that for other CFIs...). "Wow! Why didn't my CFI tell me that?!?!" We've all had the IP that wanted to hear himself talk (guilty), and if they're talking, you're not answering questions wrong... There's a limited amount of time for the check ride, and if he/she's waxing eloquent, thats less time for him/her to dig deeply for things you might not be as strong on. Practical test theory and courtesies might be a pretty good article to write up... Maybe after my check ride...

Lindsey liked
Joined: 4 weeks ago
Posts: 1
22/01/2020 12:46 pm  


Please forgive my ignorance, but you stated "...Steep turns were last. We returned VFR back to Pensacola, got the standard two 360s in the downwind and vectors to the east, that totally pissed him off, and then proceeded in to do my worst landing ever in the PA-44."

Can I ask why this pissed the DPE off?


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