My Checkride


My checkride was on June 28th with Tony Gatis at Cable airport in N89084. I actually rescheduled twice. My checkride was initially scheduled for June 21st. Then, it was moved to June 28th in the afternoon, then again was moved to the morning. Nevertheless, Tony was very accommodating, and I was glad that we moved to the 28th since it was much cooler than the first one (where it was over 100˚F).

A day before the checkride, Tony texted me with some cross-country scenario, which is to fly from Cable (KCCB) to Jean (0L7) with a stop at Apple Valley (KAPV) to drop him off (150-lb) and pick up a 190-lb passenger with some baggage. There's also a constrain that we have to be at Jean by 4 pm. (Tony explained later after the exam that the scenario would somewhat depend on the result of the written exam. In my case, I missed the question about weight and balance, so he had me plan a trip that requires recalculating W&B at KAPV).

On the day of the exam, I arrived at Cable about 9.45 am 15mins before the actual exam. Tony showed up and helped to tow the plane to parking. Then, we headed to the office and did some paperwork. First of all, Tony is an amiable guy. So don't be too intimidated by the formality of the exam. Initially, I was extremely nervous, but after we had a few conversations (talk about other things), I became a lot more relaxed.

The oral exam part was mostly going through the ACS. Interestingly, we started with the weather information for the cross-country (rather than the usual currency and regulations). Tony said because that should be the first thing that you do on the actual flight. We started with the weather forecast that I printed from There's some moderate turbulence en route and TFR for firefighter operation near San Bernardino. He then pulled up DUATS and went through all the weather charts.

We went back to the private pilot qualifications and limitations (i.e., required documents, currency, compensation). Then he asked about my personal minimum for crosswind, visibility, and ceiling. And asked about the maximum crosswind that has been demonstrated in this C152 in which I couldn't remember, but he allowed me to look in the POH (note that it's under 'Normal operation' not 'Limitations' section). After that, he asked about the regulations, incidents vs. accidents, and the $25,000 damage to report to NTSB. Then, the right-of-way rules (this is the question that I missed on my written exam)

The last part of the regulation questions was all about airworthiness. He asked me to go through the maintenance logbook. Please make sure to bring everything with you to the exam room (including airworthiness certificate and registration, he needs to make a copy of those).

Then, we continued to the engines, pitot-static, and vacuum systems. He asked what I can do if the vertical speed indication doesn't work, but the rest of the pitot-static do because of some clogging in the tube (break the glass cover).

The next part was about human factors, where Tony picked some topics for me to talk about, which are carbon monoxide poisoning and hyperventilation. Then, he asked about the five aeronautical hazardous attitudes. Once I named them all (anti-authority, invulnerability, impulsivity, macho, helplessness), he moved on and didn't go into details.

Then, we spent the last portion of the oral part (which is also the most time spent) on cross-country and charts. I used Chaffey college (VPLCC) and KURST for the two checkpoints. I planned on mainly using pilotage, following highway 15 to Jean. We spent a lot of time on charts and the symbols on them. Tony went over different scenarios if the engine quits at each point en route: what kind of airport can we land. When he asked about the isogonic lines, he pulled up an LAX TAC paper chart from the year he got his PPL (19..), then pointed on that the value has changed significantly. Then, we spent a lot of time talking about communications and different airspaces.

Take a 15-min break and go fly!

During preflight, he asked about the engine, and counterweights on the ailerons, rudders, elevators. Don't go fly without them! Fuel, brakes, hydraulic system, and flaps.

I did my first takeoff soft-field with a short-approach emergency landing. Once he saw that we were on a stabilized approach, he made me go around. And actual landing the second time was a soft-field. Then, Short-field takeoffs and planned for short-field landing. The first attempt for the short-field landing was way too high for me, so I did a go-around and came back to land about 100' beyond my touchdown point.

Then we did normal takeoff for north departure following the flight plan. Tony started the timer when we crossed the field. We arrived at the first checkpoint within 10 seconds of the planned time, and the second checkpoint within 20 seconds. Once reached the second point, Tony asked me to show him steep turns to both sides (make sure to do some clearing turns before each maneuver). Then power-off and power-on stalls. For the power-on stalls, I dove too much during the recovery, but he had me redo again which was much better. Then, we moved on the slow-flight 50knots (-5 and +10) and he gave me some heading to fly.

For the simulated instrument flight, Tony gave me a situation where we got into a cloud (I put the foggles on) then a jet passed by, causing unusual attitudes. There were three of them in total, and one of them was really severe (all the stuff on the plane's floor went everywhere). Then, we did a simulated engine failure, where I picked the old Realto airport as the landing point. As I set up for the final leg (about 1000' AGL), he asked me to choose between a turn-around-a-point or an S-turn. I picked an S-turn along the 210. Midway into the turn, Tony tuned-in to Ontario airport ATIS. Then, we called the tower asking for a touch-and-go and back to Cable. I was cleared on the right traffic for 26R. There was also a big jet landing on 26L right before us, so Tony asked about how to avoid wake turbulence.

After a touch-and-go, we headed back to Cable and did the no-brake landing. I aimed for the first taxiway. Right when we touched down, Tony asked me to turn off avionics then pull engine idles to increase the drag from the propeller. The plane rolled slowly to clear the runway. Then I restarted the engine again and taxied back to the parking. He discussed a little bit of how my landing could be improved by making small adjustments earlier, then he said that I passed.

We went to the office to finish some paperwork, then Tony gave some quick lessons on energy management and gave an example that he was once in a place with a very experienced pilot who showed him how to put a plane down exactly on a designated spot on the runway without engine/flaps and just fine-tuning the bank angles on the downwind/base legs.

Overall, I had a great experience with Tony and would totally recommend him for a private checkride.