Before I turned thirty, my goal was to have my Commercial Pilots License. Saturday 10th November 2018 was a very special and nerve racking day. After 3 days of cancelling my skills test due to poor weather, a 2 hour window of beautiful weather appeared on Saturday morning which heard my callsign, “Exam18” in my DA42 G-HAFT.
It has taken a week since I passed my skills test for it to sink in and when people call me a qualified commercial pilot, it still feels like a hollow or imaginary claim. For those looking for a bit of an insight into the commercial license skills test mine had the following order:
- Briefing the examiner on Weather, navigation routing, performance, NOTAM, and the Tech log.
- Passenger and Pre-take off brief (Examiner is treated like an ‘interested’ passenger).
- Depart Oxford routing via Beckley Mast to Thrapston (North of Wellingborough) followed by a diversion to Gaydon (Jaguar Land Rovers test track).
- Tracked into Daventry VOR and routed into Coventry airfield for single engine flight and circuits.
- Departed Coventry and routed toward Gaydon and Daventry to carry out the General Handling (Steep turns, stalls, spiral dive recovery), and the instrument flight section simulating inadvertent travel into cloud including full, partial panel instrument reading, unusual attitude recovery, compass turns and a position fix using navigation aids.
- The airborne section included engine fire drills which included an actual engine shut-down and mid air restart. Likewise, other caution drills which included alternator failure.
- My examiner routed me back to Oxford and briefed me that I had to carry out an accelerated stop on the runway. This is simulating something drastically has gone wrong with the engine before rotate speed and I had to demonstrate competence in the drills and communications, in my case, engine fire on the ground.
When taxiing back in, I knew I had made some silly mistakes but felt confident nothing major, I wasn’t sure on the outcome nor what my examiner was thinking. Just before I was pulling into my parking spot, my examiner said “I’m glad to say you can stop worrying now, you have passed” by which I proceeded to grin like a Cheshire cat for the next 3 hours.
Having passed my CPL on Saturday 10th, I started my Instrument Rating on Monday 12th. In 4-6 weeks time I’m looking to finish my professional flight certifications culminating in my instrument rating skills test. From constantly looking outside the canopy to now constantly looking inside simulating poor weather conditions. Hoping and praying for 2 first time passes.
Some of my favourite snaps from the CPL course: