What is your first thought when you hear that word? Excitement? Anxiety? Fear?
A checkride for many pilots can be a wave of varying emotions. Excited by the prospect of another rating, anxious to perform well for the examiner and possible fear of the consequences of a failed maneuver or demonstration.
A CFI candidate named Franklin recently wrote me asking:
If I’m just going on a XC with a fellow student I’m relaxed and in charge but when I get in the plane with an examiner I just fall apart due to stress and nerves and the fear of the financial implications of busting another checkride. I do fine in the Oral part. Any advice on how to get rid of the Checkride butterflies?
As a professional pilot, I’ve taken A LOT of checkrides. Let’s see…private, instrument, multi-private, multi-commercial, single-commercial, CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP, and a plethora of type ratings and company line checks. And yet after so many examinations, I can say that my nervousness has faded very little in the last 12 years. I still get anxious before every major checkride. So what’s the secret in transforming this natural nervousness into the quiet confidence needed to pass these examinations?
I asked my twitter followers this question and here are some of the responses I received:
Captain_Ron said: Relax. Do what you already know. Relax. YOU are the PIC! Relax. Do what is asked WHEN you are ready. Relax. Breathe
Fderfler: Know the FAA Practical Test Standards! FAA publishes a detailed checklist. Know it cold and be confident in your knowledge
matthammer Thing that helped me most with my checkride was recognizing all I had to do was what I’ve been doing all along. It’s just more of the same. 🙂
GirlsWithWings: I’d be interested to know how to get rid of checkride butterflies. If someone has secret (other than being well prepared) pass along!
jenniferwhitley: I studied hard for my written and got good grades; I was very prepared for the oral. Think it predisposed my examiner to like me.
navyaircrewman: Being prepared is paramount. Mock checkrides help a lot as well. Feedback helps. Train like you fight and fight like you train
As I read through these responses (thanks by the way). There are a couple of common denominators between these suggestions: confidence and preparedness. I would argue that confidence comes from preparedness. Confidence is not to be confused with cockiness. Cockiness is a fake confidence which is easy to spot and examiners don’t like it at all. True confidence however is sincere and grows as you prepare for your checkride by following some of the suggestions above: knowing the PTS, knowing your subject matter, and practicing your maneuvers religiously and to perfect execution.
The attitude that I have on a checkride is, “I have done this maneuver so many times perfectly before, forget about who is watching and do it perfectly again.” In fact, when the pressure starts mounting in the checkride, I like to force myself to forget about the examiner, just focusing on flying the airplane as you have been taught and have done in the past. Tell yourself that “You are prepared, ready and know what your doing.” If any of those things aren’t true, then reschedule the checkride until they are.
I hope this helps Franklin. I can tell that you are hungry for aviation and that hunger is a great motivational tool for practice. With practice comes preparedness. And with preparedness comes confidence. You can do it perfectly now because you’ve done it perfectly before.
Fly Safe (and confident!)
p.s. you can follow my twitter updates at http://www.twitter.com/askacfi