Real Answers from Real Pilots

Checking In Ground Level!

Started my instrument training July 7th, 2020. July 6th was my first day at the Trenton, NJ (TTN) location, entered the program with my credited private. I came in prepared, did almost every knowledge test ahead of the start date program, only one left is the FOI (Fundamentals of Instruction). On the 6th of July, I did a TOLs (takeoff/landings) review with an instructor (mine was out with a student), 13 landings that day - shew…blood, sweat, tears. From there it was right to the start of instrument, I’ve had mostly 3 flights and 3 simulator sessions weekly. Thankfully because I came into the program with my knowledge tests mostly completed, it has allowed me to focus more on the reading up material and elevate videos which ATP has put forth to students to take advantage of!

Just slightly over a month, I’ve acquired 36.7 flight hours, ahead of what the program has been outlined. My instrument time has varied between actual and simulated, actual is pretty interesting getting the opportunity to see the differences between cloud build-up and what can be produced. One of my biggest challenges [I have bolded this because I recognize this was a fluke and I needed to step my game up] coming into the instrument phase is staying ahead of the plane. I’ve improved greatly on staying ahead and always talking to myself (it feels) of what is next to do. I have a scheduled checkride for the middle of September, almost 2 months a week after start date, but was told to anticipate that sooner rather than exact date. I’ve also been fortunate to meet one of the possible DPEs since he does come to the airport here and there for other students checkrides.

Overall, my experience with ATP has been wonderful. One dreadful thing that can occur (it has to other students at my location) is flights getting pushed back due to things we cannot control, like a plane’s 100-hr or NAV/COM issue, weather, TFRs. You have to be flexible, understanding, and agile when things don’t go exactly as planned. LiveATC is a big help to anyone looking to listen into local airports DEP/APP procedures, I’m mushed between NY and PHL Class B so I can easily expect PHL APP on arrival, so listening allows me to better “plan” a potential approach. It also allows me to get an understanding of the controllers in the local area and become familiar with them…granted no two days are similar, it has its perks.

@Adam, got my Chick-fil-A fix on my 300nm PIC XC into Youngstown, OH the other day. Loved that flight. The nearest CFA is 30 minutes away here at TTN. :frowning:

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Instrument Rated - 08/31/2020

Within two months of starting ATP, I’ve officially acquired my Instrument Rated to my Private Pilot certificate. Here’s what went down:

  1. Got a nice helicopter discovery flight with my DPE’s helicopter flight school while the ATP student before me went for his CFII checkride (that was nice and relaxing).

  2. The oral evaluation lasted roughly an hour and half, I felt prepared, just a little nervous and it showed. Something to avoid is fishing your mind for the answer because the DPE will pick apart things you say out loud. Thankfully he was polite about things and did not do too much of that. My flight scenario for the IFR was fun, challenging as he threw a diversion last second and I had to quickly alter my route while he ran to heat up his coffee. Oh I forgot to mention a FAA inspector was evaluating the facility and just so happened to sit in on the oral…he left about 30 minutes after it started.

  3. The flight lasted roughly an hour and two-tenths. I felt this was my strong part during this whole day, I was super comfortable and focused as if I wasn’t even being evaluated. I gave myself a small buffer for minimum altitudes so I would not bust below floors, and maintained a configured approach from the gecko.

Overall this day went well, next step is crew evaluation and a crew flight with my lead instructor in the morning and then prepare for the next step! ATP has been well worth every journey, I’ve had 2 extended weekends off these last two months where I have been able to visit home and see family, friends, etc…don’t guarantee this will happen to everyone or at all as things change. I’ve also had to fly a plane from home out to do a final endorsement flight for the checkride, in which I got stuck due to impending thunderstorms and decided to fly back home at 6am when things were calm.

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Enjoy crew! It was the best time EVER during my training

Also say Hi to Delgado for me on your flight.

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Brady,

Congratulations on passing your instrument ride! I by far think that is the most difficult check ride.

Thank you for the update and enjoy crew!

Chris

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Congrats!! I just recently passed my Instrument checkride also and it feels so good to be able to move on… The crew eval was one of my favorite flights yet, it’s a nice change being able to split tasks with someone else - and doing a takeoff/landing in the right seat is definitely interesting. Crew is so much fun, sad it’s going to be over for me soon!

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Thanks Chris!

I think the preparation was by far the most involved and time consuming. Everything about the flight went the way I expected it too and things clicked. That was definitely a day I did not want to experience a lapse in skill performance.

Brady

The crew evaluation flight was definitely one of the ‘chillest’ and adventurous. It was also the first flight to file IFR and get that experience with the real-deal. Luckily I was able to fly north to Connecticut, and then cut back down overtop of JFK at 6,000 on the V16 airway and got an amazing view. Looking forward to seeing where the adventures get to go!

Crew Completed - 09/09/2020

Total flight time - 33.2 hours
Total NM traveled (airport to airport/not incl. radar vectors) - 3,523 nm
Total number of days flying - 7 days
Total times I was airlined - 4 (3 Airbus 321/1 Boeing 737)

My crew experience may be apart some of those that were just staging around their local area. Wednesday (09/02) I received a call from Flight Ops that stated I was going to Texas and catching an airline at 6pm local time from Philadelphia International to Dallas Fort Worth International. It didn’t dawn on me that I was about to have one of the coolest experiences and cross a lot of my bucket list. Upon arriving I went to the hotel and the rest is history.

The next day (Thursday) as I was drinking my coffee, looking at our route (Texas - Louisiana - Tennessee - Ohio - Connecticut), I noticed our final destination (Friday) was Connecticut - weather permitting. Unfortunately we didn’t hit either of our first two locations due to a cloud layer that hung for a few hours, we napped in the FBO for a little. After discussing potentials with Flight Ops we decided Springfield, Missouri would be our destination for the night. The next day we were to stop in Indiana and Ohio for fuel before reaching our final leg to Connecticut (this was a 9 hour day in the air). Upon our arrival we stayed overnight near Bradley International where the next morning bright and early we were getting airline to Charlotte to take ferry a plane from Concord, NC to Trenton, NJ, stay overnight, and ferry a different plane down to Concord, NC. Flight Ops informed us we were had an airline to catch at 5 from Charlotte back to DFW.

On Tuesday (09/08) our schedule was originally to Baton Rouge, LA and to Conroe, TX, but ultimately weather changed that and we went back to Missouri and back to Texas. Not much happened on this day, a lot of resting in the hotel occurred post flight. The following day we were scheduled to go to Louisiana and back to Texas for our final flight, we had weather coming in over Texas, especially the Fort Worth/Dallas area. Thankfully we were able to get off the ground right as the sun was peaking the horizon and back before the weather picked up…and this concluded crew.

From my experiences on crew, I noticed a trend as crew concluded, from flying the long trips early on I started feeling fatigued. I found myself just lounging around the hotel room the final days trying to catch up on sleep while eating and staying hydrated. My landings weren’t the greatest the final days, struggling to get the sought landing that everyone wants. This experience was unbelievably amazing, I stepped foot in so many states I’ve never been before, flew over amazing landmarks like the Mississippi River, major cities like Dallas, Cincinnati, Columbus.

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Brady,

To begin with, happy one year of being a forum member (hence the birthday cake beside your name).

It sounds like you had a great experience on crew cross country, flying across that much of the country is great experience building for you. You had better get used to this long flights, it is twelve hours from Newark to Athens :slight_smile:

Thank you for the update, I am glad to hear that you are doing so well. It will be over before you know it.

Chris

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Brady,

Nice report. Sounds like to had an extraordinary time which is part of plan.

Yes fatigue is real! That’s why I always smile when people ask why can’t I fly like 8hrs a day to build time? :wink:

Adam

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@Chris, thanks for the anniversary wish! The cross country was an amazing route of flying, especially seeing all the different types of land that we don’t see in our hometowns. Since you brought up the twelve hour flight, I’ve heard that airline pilots are allowed a short power nap for the long-haul flights, true or false?

@Adam, I did have a wonderful time! That fatigue kicked my butt, I think the hardest part was staying hydrated because it seemed I had to go to the bathroom every time we took off, there isn’t a bathroom in a Piper Archer TX…lol. Must I also say the sun and heat definitely hit hard. My partner and I agreed to stay around the 7,000 - 9,000’ to get the best winds, staying away from the VFR traffic, and offered us a good amount of time if in the event something onboard happened.

Brady

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Brady,

Pilots are absolutely not allowed to sleep in the cockpit, even for just a few minutes (I think some foreign countries might allow it). There is a complex set of rules that governs this, but essentially for flights over 8 hours there is one additional pilot and for flights over 12 hours there are two additional pilots. The extra pilots, generally known as “relief” pilots, will rotate through so everybody gets a break. During that break the pilots either head to a bunk, or to a first class seat where they can sleep.

Your decision to stay higher was good, altitude is always your friend.

Chris

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Delayed Post

TAA (Technically Advanced Airplane) Training Completed - 09/15/2020

Just a brief summary of what you can expect as a student approaching your commercial phase of training (TAA training) and short view of my experience. This was part of training is short, quick, and as long as you prepared by watching the King Schools’ videos on the G1000 and have an understanding of the system, it will go by super quick. I am lucky to have a location where we have all G1000 Piper Archers so I understood a lot of the system already. The real difference was the famous - autopilot. ATP has 10 hours blocked for TAA training for 14 CFR 61.129; under aeronautical experience (specifically the commercial requirements).

The TAA instructor gave me a call as I was ending my crew and catching an airliner back to Philadelphia International and gave me an idea of what to expect. We discussed that we would meet at his airport (where the plane is based) and go from there and since I had already trained and watched the videos of the G1000 we would not spend a lot of time going over that. Must I say this flight was super “chill.” The first day we did 7.7 hours, I got one Power-Off 180 landing, nailed the 1,000’ markers. Then proceeded to do night time flying back to my base, where the plane would stay overnight. The following day we completed the 2.3 hours remaining for the training by doing a missed approach and going back to his base.

A real simple fun time to kick back, talk (I love to talk), and take in the views because the plane practically flies itself if it’s trimmed and environmental conditions don’t affect your aircrafts performance. I really had nothing in my way studying wise, all my writtens were completed prior and I really used this time to just relax and have a good time because there are times that we as students do not just take a step back and breathe.

As I write this, I am halfway through my commercial training, this coming week will be a mock evaluation flight and hopefully checkride the following week - things are moving! I was questioning others here at my base about my MEI option at the end of the program, but after talking to everyone that instruct (those that are MEI and not MEI) and getting an understanding of the opportunities once having it, I will be completing the program with MEI. I see a lot of individuals questioning whether MEI is worth it or not, I encourage you to talk to as many individuals as possible.

Talk to you all soon, hopefully as a SE Commercial Rated pilot!

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Brady,

Thanks as always for the update. Nice work and I’m sure others will find it beneficial.

Adam

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Brady,

Thank you for the update and the in-depth explanation of the TAA training. I am glad that you will be getting your MEI rating, I think that is the smart move.

Chris

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Commercial Single-Engine Rated – 10/08/2020

It’s been 14 weeks since I started the program (Credit Private) and ATP’s standards are the way they are because they are PROVEN - with the Principal of Effect, Exercise, Intensity, Primacy and Recency, I have successfully passed another checkride. Here’s what went down:

  1. I came to ATP with all my knowledge tests completed, so I was able to spend a majority of my time studying the commercial oral exam guide book and the ACS guide that ATP provides in our Extranet Library. From the start of TAA I was able to begin studying for the oral portion of the CPL and beginning to go through the flows of maneuvers (i.e., steep turns, chandelle, steep spirals, lazy eights, eights-on-pylons).

  2. I hit low points during my commercial training, moments where I felt nothing was clicking. I remember looking at my instructor one flight where it was non-stop turbulence and I made a comment “I feel this is not helping me.” I was completely wrong, this flight helped me, she [my instructor] took the controls for a moment, allowing me to loosen up, breathe, take a sip of water and regather. I came back to the controls, focused, determined, and went through the remainder of the session ignoring the bounce and correcting pitch, bank, power as needed to stay within the ACS limits for each maneuver. You will have moments during your training where you hit that plateau where you need to just breathe and come back to things – this is normal.

  3. Two weeks prior to checkride date, I began going over my evaluation flight and learned my weaker points. One thing I struggled with was common carriage and being able to now be compensated for flying. I highly recommend searching around the internet for flow charts or going to your Extranet Library searching for AC 120-12A, I brought this to my checkride to use as an aide to show that I could do research if I ever have questions about a flight. Also do not be fearful to ask other instructors and fellow students; we’re all here for the same purpose.

  4. I found out I had the same DPE from my Instrument Rating checkride, I was excited. I saw this DPE in our training center multiple times up to this point, each time he stopped to talk to me and ask how my training has been going. I used this as an opportunity towards him asking how his flight school (helicopter and future 141) was doing; must I also say, when I was there last, a FAA Inspector was looking at his newly bought helicopter simulator, of course I had to bring that up and show interest…good networking and relationship building.

Overall take-aways, I’ve had great flight moments and some that I wish I could take back and change. During a course of training, you will have moments of highs and lows. It’s what you take from those lows which make them into highs and a better pilot. I was able to recognize errors in my flying skills and asked my instructor if we could spend certain flights working on the weaker to strengthen them. During your checkrides, show your willingness to learn, take the knowledge of the DPE and remember that there is NO perfect checkride, no matter what meteorological conditions exist. Don’t be afraid to ask the DPE for a minute to research an answer before giving one.

I plan to check-in in about 4-5 weeks, I have a week off before I begin CFI orientation. I am taking this weekend to relax, eat good food, and sleep a little. A big thank you to our mentors/admins who provide us with endless resources. I am opened to any questions that may exist, the only way we can learn is by taking in the knowledge of our peers.

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Brady,

Excellent work, congratulations! Also, welcome to the world of being a professional pilot :). You can now get paid to do what you love, it is hard to beat that.

Thank you for the detailed post, it is great for us mentors to read and also for those who are coming along behind you. Please keep the posts coming. ’

Enjoy your weekend and get ready for CFI school, the end is in sight.

Chris

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Brady,

First of all, congrats :grin:

Second, one thing stood out to me in your post. “NO perfect checkride.” Exactly. Idk where people get the idea from. Everyone admits this, but people can’t help but try to be perfect. What do you think the ACS is for? Replace “prefect” with “within standards.” That will always be true throughout your entire career. Perfection is never the goal. After my experience with LOSA, I’ve learned that the most important aspect of my job is Threat and Error Management. The word “error” implies that it will happen. Imperfection is inevitable. Everyone tries not to make errors, but when they happen, the RESPONSE to the error, or threat, is what matters. Just some perspective to put in your back pocket.

Tory

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Brady,

Congrats! You can now get paid to do what you love. Excellent progress. There is absolutely no such thing as a perfect checkride and no decent examiner would expect to see one.

Nice job sir.

Adam

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CFI Academy School – 10/30/2020 / Certified Flight Instructor (SE) - 11/24/2020

Since my last update, I had a week off before beginning the two weeks, Zoom taught CFI Academy that was once done in CFI locations. After completing that I was sent to Lawrenceville, GA (LZU) for two weeks where I conducted three training flights, a spin flight, and a mock oral/checkride prep flight. I overcame a few adversities, which made me work extremely hard and implement new ways of learning/teaching. Here’s what went down:

  1. On October 19th I began CFI Academy ground school via Zoom. This was our instructors first time teaching a class size of about 45 students. His overall goal was not for us to learn new things, but for us to learn how we can teach to our future students. Though at times, it was like learning brand new material. We developed lesson plans, stayed on Zoom for hours past class, exchanged phone numbers, and worked together. For the most part, I still remained in contact with a couple of my classmates that did not end up at my CFI location.

  2. On November 4th I was airlined to Lawrenceville, GA (LZU) where I met my three other roommates, became really great friends with, and shared tips/tricks about our flights/lesson plans. This is where I also met another Brady, he was my instructor, we ‘clicked’ well. He taught me a lot of interesting tricks that I implemented in my future flights and felt more comfortable in the plane. The best part was eating southern food (since I was from the north) and warmer temperatures, this time of the year! The spin flight is by far a memory and I’ll always remember the feeling of that first spin.

My mock oral went extremely well, most of the orals from my classmates were around one and half hour long, mine went much shorter. I felt comfortable, the material I was teaching flowed, even drew a few pictures and threw in real-world scenarios.

My checkride prep flight went well, minus the fact we almost had 20 knot crosswinds at an airport where I was practicing my take-off/landings. This made it very interesting for the famous – power-off 180’s, but showed that I could successfully perform them in a checkride.

  1. On November 19th I was headed home and preparing to head back to my training center (TTN). I came back to my training location with a checkride date scheduled November 23rd, but the night prior and discussing with my lead instructor and DPE, the weather was not favorable for a flight and we would continue watching the weather. Unfortunately (to a degree), the weather panned out like we thought, we discontinued the checkride due to weather (gusty winds, low ceilings) and resumed the checkride Wednesday, November 25th where I officially became a Certified Flight Instructor under Part 61! Let’s break it down:
  • The oral was tough, my DPE had me prepare a lesson plan specific to a maneuver (eights-on-pylon) where I was to incorporate the FOIs, aerodynamics, principles of flight, etc. I was challenged upon my biggest fear, I kept digging myself holes because I would not simply shut up, and fed him off of this. Now if you noticed a trend, previous posts for checkrides, this is a habit of mine – it sucks and it needs to stop (all jokes aside).

  • I enjoyed the flight portion well…because I love flying. Better yet, it gave me an opportunity to teach and talk (something I also love doing). The weather today (Nov. 25) was better, providing me a great opportunity to set myself up for maneuvers, teach them, and allow my DPE to act as a student giving them instruction while they performed the maneuver. One thing I continuously plan to work on is my landings, I have noticed that my rounding out tends to be too soon, resulting in a longer float and a firmer touchdown. I was extremely pleased with how the flight went and stated my farewells and a “see-ya soon” to the DPE as I expect to have them for my CFII, CPL ME add-on, and MEI.

Let’s sum it up, I need to stop digging myself holes in checkrides, I need to give the DPE the shortest answer possible when it comes to the oral. I enjoyed this phase of training, minus feeling at times of being sensory overloaded. I met a lot of great people, made a lot of friends, and proven that I have the capability to always keep growing as a pilot. One take-away I would tell any future CFI candidates, just because you’re a CFI does not mean you stop learning. There are tons of resources on the internet at which are at our fingertips. A lot of YouTube video channels like MzeroA, Fly8MA, Angle of Attack, to name a few, all assist with my continue of learning.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! :turkey:

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