It’s back to California for my commercial training. I would have rather this entire process didn’t turn out this difficult, but that’s just life.
On the first stint in California I was unprepared for the task ahead. Coupled with weather and maintenance issues, it wasn’t going to be possible to finish my training. I simply needed more time.
Then to Utah, which was shown in the previous episode, where I really got comfortable with the airplane.
Now back in California, I had a lot of things going for me. First of all, the weather was markedly better than before. Next, I knew how to fly the Piper Arrow now, and was doing so well.
Unfortunately, a lot of my footage was lost when I dropped my hard drive containing all of my GoPro footage and a lot of other items in between. I was able to piece together this video to wrap up the story after finding out my hard drive couldn’t be recovered for a reasonable price.
Had I had that footage, you should have seen a moment where Michael was flying with me and said, “I don’t know what you did to that old pilot. This is who I thought you were.” It was a great moment!
More challenges lay ahead.
My DPE got food poisoning so bad that he was hospitalized. That delayed my checkride a week during good weather. Then, bad weather returned.
I did get the Oral Test done, which was actually a big relief. It was also nice to do it on a day that wasn’t on the practical test day.
Several days later I got a call out of the blue that Dennis (the DPE) could do the checkride a few hours north in Santa Maria. The winds were also gusting to 25 knots, and I hadn’t flown the Arrow in anything like that.
After some hum and hawing, I decided to go for it. There was plenty of time to get there, simmer down, and be prepared. I did some pattern work and things were looking good. The sight pictures were different, but I found I could accomplish all the maneuvers.
Then came the actual ride. We taxied out and everything was ok. We were sitting in the runup spot, after having completed the runup, and I see this dark wall of clouds coming for the airport. I look at Foreflight, I talk to tower, and sure enough… unforecast thunderstorms.
So I had a choice to make. I could go into it, and risk failing my checkride (almost a surety, it would have been stupid), or I could cancel it right there to be finished another day. I decided to call it, so we taxied back and I waited out the weather.
The very next day was the original date of the checkride, but the winds were forecast to be 50 knots, which was pretty much a no-go for me.
But, it ended up being calm and clear and beautiful.
I got my checkride done FINALLY and was not a Commercial Pilot. The semi-sad part, as I realized later, was that I wasn’t a private pilot anymore. I had ridden that pony for a long time. But now I was trading that in to be a Commercial Pilot.