Passed first checkride, thought I'd share a few thoughts

Passed my first check-ride yesterday at KLGB. What an amazing feeling. A small accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, but it feels like a big deal to me, and I thought I’d just share a few tips that I think allowed me to have a successful first check-ride, for any new or prospective ATP students. Also, if anybody ahead of me has any tips they would like to share for the instrument and subsequent check-rides, it would of course be appreciated.

  1. I’m very lucky to have been assigned a great instructor who I think I communicate well with. But I can imagine that certain instructor / student pairings may not be ideal for whatever reason. Hang around your ATP location and talk to other instructors as much as possible. Pretty much all of the instructors here seem more than willing to answer any questions you might have - and in talking to different instructors you also learn at least a little about their communication styles, how they fly, etc - and if there is an instructor you seem to vibe with, you could request switching instructors if you find it necessary. I am lucky to not need to do this, but have heard several instructors on ELEVATE Zoom sessions mention that they changed instructors even multiple times while at ATP.

  2. Speaking of ELEVATE - go to all of them if you can. They are technically “optional” but I tried to think of them as mandatory and attend, even if I really didn’t feel like it, or even if it was a subject I felt well-versed on already. I also asked tons of questions in these sessions, and was not shy to volunteer my answers to the questions posed to the students in attendance. You are going to have to explain all these concepts to your DPE in at least a semi-intelligent way so this is a good opportunity to practice that. To avoid being that annoying guy who hogs all the questions I would sometimes keep my mic muted and just reply to the questions out-loud but to myself, to allow others the opportunity to give their answers as well. But also - if nobody is jumping to answer… answer! You are paying a ton of money to be here, so don’t be shy.

  3. Chair fly ALL THE TIME. Like, basically any weekday and some weekends where I was not actually flying, I would chair fly instead. At KLGB we can actually sit in the airplanes on the tarmac and chair fly in the cockpit, not sure if this is allowed at all locations. Obviously do not turn on the master or any switches while doing this - but you can touch everything and really engrain all of the movements in muscle memory this way. While chair flying, I was visualizing every maneuver, speaking all radio calls out-loud at the moments where they would appear in the flight, did every single checklist, every single emergency flow, etc. Generally would do this for 45-60 minutes at a time. Perhaps I should have visualized my steep turns more because they were a little wonky during my checkride… but apparently still within ACS standards :wink:

  4. This may seem obvious but write down notes after every single flight! I keep a spare kneeboard-sized notepad alongside my daily scratch paper notepad and pull it out as often as possible to write down notes, so that you are sure you aren’t forgetting anything from the day’s flight. And then would review that day’s flight usually the next morning to remind myself of the specific things I needed to improve on the next flight.

  5. I assembled a document full of aviation acronyms gradually over the past few months… basically anytime I learned a new acronym or mnemonic, I would put it into that document, which generally sits open on my computer desktop all the time in the background. IMSAFE, ATOMATOFLAMES, GRABCARDD, LHAND, MCPRAWN, MDFGPS, etc and so forth. Its kinda funny to me how much aviation seems to be all about acronyms.

  6. I wasn’t one of these super students who come in with every single written exam done. But I did start with the PAR done - and think at the bare minimum everyone should at least do that. Additionally I had read the Rod Machado Private and Instrument Pilot books cover to cover, several times, before my first day at ATP. This took several months because I am a slow reader but the reality at ATP is - nobody is going to hold your hand and spoon feed you this information. I would really recommend to any prospective students - pick a couple airplane books and really dive into them in the months leading up to your start date. I liked Rod Machado but the PHAK, AFH, and I’m sure many other options out there are just as good.

  7. Stop wasting time on social media :wink: I deactivated my socials from the moment my checkride got scheduled. This may not be an issue for some but it is for me, and so I deactivated it for the past 3 weeks and I think that really helped me keep my head in the game.

Anyway. Sorry this was long-winded but I hope maybe some of this might be helpful to someone. So far I am really enjoying being at ATP KLGB but of course there are 6 more checkrides to go so if anyone has any additional tips for how they got through all this, feel free to share.


Welcome to the Private Pilot Club, Rudi!

Wow! I really appreciate your thorough write up of your experience. Most impressive, sir.

Could not agree more about chair flying and note taking. Invaluable. I had a shoebox full of flash cards with acronyms, metar codes, surface analysis symbols. Had to be at least a thousand cards.

Again, I really admire your attention to detail. Keep it up moving forward! It will serve you well.

One bit of advice I have for you, is as you advance from one phase to the other, be sure to review the old material so that knowledge stays with you. I’ve seen people let there basic private knowledge slip and are not successful during the commercial or CFI stage because of it.



Not a small accomplishment at all Rudi! Major kudos and congrats!

Thanks for taking the time to post the tips, I’m certain others will find them useful.

Keep up the good work!


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Rudi congrats!!

Don’t diminish all your hard work at all. After reading your tips for others I can tell you put in the work and earned that cert. The biggest key to learn early on is simply how to consume, organize and apply all the knowledge your getting thrown. Sounds like you’ve done that very well. Now you can use that same method for each phase moving forward!

Take the win and the momentum you have now and apply that to instrument. Thanks for the update, we look forward to hearing how your instrument phase goes!




Congratulation on passing your check ride! Also, thank yo for the detailed write up, it is great to read about people’s experiences and I am sure other students will benefit from it as well.

Keep up the good work and thank you for keeping us in the loop.


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Thank you all for the support and advice you offer to us students on this forum.

And I didn’t mean to diminish the achievement - I guess what I mean is, I came here to become a professional commercial pilot, so I consider this achievement only 1/7th or less of the main achievement I am here for. Just trying to stay humble and keep my eye on the prize. It seems like such a long path with so much to learn; it feels quite daunting at times.

Totally understand that. You’re driven and focused on the goal… but sometimes when it gets daunting, that’s when it’s most important to celebrate the milestone you’re at. :slight_smile:




Congratulations on the Private Pilot! There’s that feeling going from maneuvers to cross-country flying every lesson, you’ll miss the maneuvers, but the instrument flying will bring a whole new adventure and joy to flying (at least I think).

Loved to read about your experiences and strategies that you used, I can see very similarities that I did during my time as a student and what I recommend to students. I hope you’re ready to add bunch of acronyms to your list; we made our training center a front and back sheet of paper full of acronyms from private to instrument for students to take willingly and practice with (doing one a day really helps, before a week prior to checkride: morning and evening is when I recommended it to students).

Continue the work ethic you have Rudi and you are going to be one fine student! I have been telling a bunch of students at my training center, if you put the work and motivation/drive into everything, things will fall into place. You’re a private pilot and soon enough, you’ll be teaching someone how to fly shortly. Keep up the great work! We love to see and hear about it.


That’s a great thing to provide students Brady! Do you happen to have a link with the acronyms? Even though I just started instrument, I’m already researching as much checkride prep as possible, just so when those new concepts are introduced they won’t be completely alien to me.


I will get one uploaded, I don’t have the master copy as someone edited my version…I will get you a link tomorrow,