Mondays getting you down? No better way to lift your spirits then passing an instrument check ride!
Just another gusty, rainy day in New England, but who’s complaining? We had great weather this summer, lots of flying days, and lots of warm sun.
But that’s changed recently with several storms rushing through the Boston and New England area. Wind gusts in the high 20’s, temperatures dropping in the 40’s and rain painting the radar in many shades of green.
Flight test fever started many days before, with good ole New England weather closing in on us. Using multiple instructors to evaluate before a check ride always helps, and this time was no different. Laura and I were busy prepping and flying with our soon-to-be-instrument-pilot. But he didn’t know this. At the time he was just another Private Pilot helicopter pilot, left in the weeds with previous instructors who fell short on many accounts.
But the bulk of the load was not on us, it was on our PT (pilot in training). It was up to him to bring all of the pieces together and pass the upcoming flight check.
As the check ride date closed in, it was evident that New England weather was going to play its little game with us all. The forecast was calling for overcast skies and rain at the time of the ride with winds gusting in the high 20’s. Not perfect check ride weather.
The morning dawned with the forecast being wrong once again – the weather had moved in QUICKER THAN FORECAST! Go figure – a Boston forecast incorrect….
The check ride was still on and everyone, including Joe Brigham, were converging on the airport like the perfect storm. A check of the helicopter, a weather briefing, and the check ride was on!
Rain was still around the area, the ceilings were not fully cooperating, the winds were kicking up, but everything was still well within limits of safety for the venerable Robinson R22 and it’s crew.
Paperwork complete, oral questioning complete, and it’s time to fly!
Localizer approaches at Beverly, GPS approaches, ILS approaches, unusual attitudes, autorotations, and other PTS requirements all while the winds were gusting 24+ knots! Our intrepid, newly rated helicopter instrument pilot and the DPE both arrived back on the ramp with a perfect setdown facing into the (increasing once again) wind!
By any judgement, a 1.6 hour instrument check flight is more than a fair evaluation of one’s instrument skills, never mind an instrument check ride in winds that kept most people nestled in their hangars (the pattern was rather empty save a few Cessna 172’s now and again).
So what was the wind correction in the holds today? About 30 degrees – evidently the winds aloft made the winds on the surface look like a small breeze.
So what did our new instrument pilot have to say when he returned (other than “Thanks guys”)?
“When can I start my commercial?”
Answer: Take a few hours off my friend – you can start TOMORROW!
Great job everyone. Enjoy.