I get to work at 530 which is 4 hours before our scheduled takeoff and an hour prior to the brief. I am the first one in the flight room. After pulling up the weather, determining that it is horrible, I revert to my secondary plan as the weather is gorgeous down in Amarillo and Roswell. The weather over our local area, i.e. Enid to Wichita to Tulsa, and Oklahoma City is over cast at about a thousand with moderate icing from 2,000 to about 6-9,000. No worries. I have a plan, we can do this. Myself and a fellow classmate who was also checking that day proceed to scramble to finish a plan for the day. Eventually my brief time rolls around and with out a complete plan, I go down to the checkride office to ask for more time. Well, nobody is there. Come to find out, my scheduled IP is usually late to his briefs. Sweet, but I still have to scramble as I don't know when he will be in. Anyway, he finally makes it in and we brief. It was a lightning fast brief because we had a plane to catch. Not only do we need to takeoff on time we need to be back by a certain time called our chock time. Normally this is 6.5 hours from takeoff time, but for whatever reason, my was like 5. We both thought it was a mistake but we still had to comply.
The total amount of flying time for the two flights is supposed to total 3.6 hours, or about 3:36. Well, I new we were going to be pushing it because we were going to Roswell and it ain't close. I chose Roswell because I had been there before and I had a previous VFR leg already planned to there so it cut my planning in half. I could have gone to Lubbock or a town in Kansas, but I decided against it to comply with the student made rules for checkrides: don't do anything dumb, dangerous, or different. I had never been to Lubbock or some better options, so I stuck with my guns.
We finally take off, and I believe it was on time, even after all the shenanigans of the morning. We make our way through the icing and down to Amarillo. Funny thing about Amarillo is they give you whatever you request. I had planned out some approaches to do, but en-route my IP and I decided to change the first. This was only a small foreshadow of what was to come. The first approach was a GPS approach to a touch and go, we received instructions for the climb-out but it was not jiving with what we wanted to do next. So, I had had to then do another approach I had not planned on doing. Eventually, I made my way through 4 approaches with one to a circle and a holding pattern in about 35 mins. It was a blistering pace. Not what I had planned, but it is what we got. In fact on two of the approaches, the tower had us go around before we even got to the runway because on one there was an aircraft taking off and the other we were flying head to head with an airliner coming in the opposite direction. In then end, I think only one of the four approaches was one I had initially planned.
After holding, I had to figure out where we were on the map because now I had to navigate using a map of the ground and clock to get us to Roswell. After getting my bearings, we made our way onto the route I had planned from Amarillo to Roswell. This was the most chill portion of the flight. We climbed up to about 10000 and navigated our way across the sprawling land mass that is northwest Texas and northeast New Mexico. There is nothing but dirt for as far as the eye can see, even at 10000 feet. This is also when I began my recovery from the approach work at Amarillo. I began to realize we were short on time, really short on time. I tried to push it up a notch on the approach into Roswell, but it was too little, too late.
We landed, went for lunch at the Mexican food place and made our way back to Vance. The flight back was uneventful as he was flying and asking me General Knowledge questions the entire way. This was another opportunity to fly faster and direct, not along the planned route. We landed and made our way back to the squadron with only the EP to discuss. But first I had to fill out all the forms. This is when I learned we flew a 3.8, not the required 3.6. Whoops, maybe he'll have mercy on me because of the bad weather. Anyway, that was to be discussed after the EP.
For the EP, he put me on the runway at Roswell, with 12000 ft of runway in front of me, getting ready to takeoff, with clouds and icing above us. As I was getting ready to rotate, he gave me a caution light with all the hydraulic annunciators. This is bad, because we can't stop with out hydraulics with the exception of the emergency brake. To help setup the situation better, I had always briefed that for takeoff's we would not abort for hydraulic type emergencies. He basically called me out to see what I would do. After much deliberation, between going into icing with a bad jet and aborting on the runway, knowing what I had briefed, I decided to abort. Which, is the right answer, however, according to the check pilot, it was wrong. His point is that it was bad for me to go completely opposite of what I said I was going to do. I could delve into the ridiculousness of this whole situation and my opinions on AF UPT, but that is neither here nor there.
In conclusion, he informed me I had passed, but I had somethings that troubled him. First and foremost was the whole overfly issue. I had basically planned to do something that was against the rule. So, I guess my plan backfired. I knew it was a long shot, but he also said I could have done things to help my situation. First was to fly faster and direct on the way back. Second was to fly faster on the VFR leg. And finally, I could have done the approach into Vance instead of a fourth at Amarillo. I felt the third option was not made known to me until it was to late, because had I known I had that option, I definitely would have chosen it. The first two were definitely my fault. Anyway, I received two separate downgrades for this overfly issue, the first on mission planning and second on in flight planning. Whatever, I expected one, but not two. I also received a downgrade for the EP as I discussed earlier. Also, in my opinion, a questionable downgrade. I had three more, one of which was a dumb mistake and no big deal. The other two came with the crazy approach work. On the two times they had me go around before the runway, he said I waited too long to go around. Well, part of checkride ROE is that the IP calls the go arounds, unless I call one on myself. This was also arguable because I was waiting for him to call my go around to comply with the rules. Whatever. So I ended up with 6 downgrades. Not bad but not stellar. On a positive note, he said I did excellent with keeping up with all the changes in the aircraft. He also said my basic aircraft control was also excellent. Both things I take a lot of pride in because I don't like using the autopilot and I am super flexible, being able to do stuff on the fly, no pun intended.
Had I flown my primary plan, I think I could have gotten a 1 or 2 downgrade instead of the 6 I received. Oh well, half of checkride success luck. On another note, our class us doing awesome. We are extremely tight in performance. Those who sucked on the first checkride did awesome on this one and vice versa.
Next is formation. Eventually we will be doing low levels in formation, which are usually the instructors favorite flights.
Until next time pray for SURF.