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Have you found yourself nervous for a checkride? Are you unsure of the process? Do you really know how to prepare, or are you just going along with what your instructor says? Today we’ll talk about these issues and more while I share why Checkride ACE was created. Then we’ll go through the structure of Checkride ACE as well.

In this podcast we will discuss:

• Problems that arise during a checkride
• How I’ve tried to fix them with Checkride ACE
• The structure and breakdown of Checkride ACE
• How YOU are in control of your destiny
• The importance of reviewing the knowledge for the test
• What documents are part of this training, including the ACS

I really want pilots to achieve their goals, and sometimes even dreams. Working on this project has been meaningful. I’m really looking forward to hearing how it’s helped.

Let me know what feedback you have, and I hope you enjoy the podcast.

[vc_toggle title=”Episode Transcript”]
On this episode of AviatorCast, we dive into Checkride ACE.

Welcome aviators to another episode of AviatorCast. Load up your flight bag with useful flight training topics, interviews and aviation passion. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires. Coming to you from Angle of Attack headquarters in Homer, Alaska. Here’s your host and flight instructor, Chris Palmer.

All right, welcome aviators to another episode of AviatorCast. Things are getting a little bit more snowy here in Alaska. I think, what is it today? 26 degrees and I’m leaving tonight to go to a wedding down in Florida, flying down there with some of my friends or to be with some of my friends that you’ve seen in videos before. Some of my colleagues.
So got a big wedding to celebrate, going to get a little sunshine before that and so I’m pounding out this podcast. Actually been working in the office a whole lot recently trying to get this particular subject that we’re talking about done. And this subject today is about Checkride ACE. Now this is about acing your checkride. It’s basically a course that I’ve created to help those that are wanting to wrap those final details of a checkride together and really do well at the very end.
You put it in a ton of effort to make it happen and just that little bit of extra nudge organization study to get you across the finish line is what this is all about. So we’re going to talk about that today. I want to just share this with you, the audience, those of you that follow what I do here at Angle of Attack to give you a little bit more of the why I ended up going through this behind the scenes so that you see kind of my thought process I guess.
Because I at the end of the day it’s, it’s actually really helpful for those that are eventually going to go through a checkride that you realize that there are these issues that arise when you go to a checkride and that the anxiety is normal and that there is a way to get over most of that and just go in with a lot of confidence to the checkride.
So we’re going to discuss Checkride ACE today. I’ve created Checkride ACE for private instrument and commercial. It’s available for all of those and I’m just going to go through some of the problems that I’ve seen as an instructor that have lent to this idea that there needs to be some sort of preparation at the very end before an actual checkride. And then how I’ve gone about trying to fix that and a little bit about the structure of the course.
I don’t want this to be a big sales pitch. I do want to let you know it’s available because I do think it’s very useful and that’s the reason I created it in the first place to help people to get across the finish line in a positive way. Now I want to take a little bit of a a break before we get into the actual content here to say that I get a lot of messages on Instagram and email and things of people that do go tough times when they are preparing for a checkride or they go through tough stuff with a checkride.
Just yesterday I had someone write me and tell me that his instructor didn’t actually endorse him for his checkride, so he went to his checkride and didn’t have the endorsements he needed in order to proceed or even start the checkride. Those are things I go over in my course, but it just goes to show that those things are coming up time and time again.
Had a guy recently that I was coaching through, you’re going to know who you are when I want to say this, that I was coaching through the desire to… He basically wanted to quit his flight training because he went into a stage check or some oral preparation for the checkride and just totally felt he was unprepared and didn’t feel he could continue. So a lot of these things have lent to the structure that I’ve built throughout this course and really I just want it to be useful, at the end of the day.
It’s my way of connecting with you where you’re at no matter where you’re at and helping out a little bit with my experience as an instructor to whatever extent that has value to you. I know that a lot of you would find that valuable, but that’s what I’m trying to accomplish with this course. So a lot of the problems that I see when people show up for check rides is they don’t have their hours set up correctly.
They don’t have the organization that they need within their logbook. The hours, you’ve got to have a certain amount of aeronautical experience to actually become a pilot or add a rating and it’s laid out in the regulations. But for some reason maybe it’s interpretation or not being able to read between the lines, but people go to checkrides and they don’t have what they need in order to actually be eligible for that checkride.
And that happens in a lot of cases even with the endorsements, I just shared a story about that people. Failed to bring the logbooks to the checkride. I had a friend that failed his first, or rather didn’t, had an unsatisfactory on his first checkride because the flight school didn’t provide the logbooks, never taught him about the logbooks for the airplane and just kind of one thing after the other. A lot of people have not heard of the ACS, the airman certification standards that go along with every checkride.
That’s a big thing, which is just super useful for everything you do. And then I think over and above everything else, well before that I think a lot of people don’t know what to study at the very end. So when you go through your written test, which I recommend doing it before you actually start your training and you go through that, you have a long time between when you’ve done that written test and when you’re actually going to take the checkride.
So what ends up happening is during that time you do forget a lot of knowledge or you just need to polish up on it and bring it back to your recollection. So studying again, any structured way is important. You’re not going to go through an entire ground school again, right? That just seems overkill and it really is. But to go through and recollect all that stuff, review those things would be a helpful exercise. And then above and beyond everything else, I think people are just fearful about the process because they don’t understand the steps.
And so what I’ve tried to do a little bit in this Checkride ACE program is not totally pull back the curtain on what instructors are doing to organize that and make it useful, but just show you like what actual tools we’re using and empower you to use them too so you know exactly what you need for the checkride. So that you don’t have situations where you show up for the checkride and you don’t have the logbooks for the airplane that you don’t show up and you don’t have the hours you need. Or you don’t show up and you don’t have the endorsements you need.
All of these gotchas that happen that make people fear the checkride because they’ve heard of other people failing the checkride. That’s what I’m trying to get people to avoid. So I’ve gone through and I’ve made a way that you can study for the material at the very end in a structured way that doesn’t take a whole lot of time, but you’re just recollecting everything and bringing it back to your memory.
Putting in clear terms also what your hours need to be for each license and where that should be in your logbook, totaling up your logbook, writing all these things down, making it easy for your DPE to find those things. Making sure you have the endorsements you need. I put the endorsements in there and it’s not that you’re doing the work for your instructor, but you’re just checking their work. It’s just really important to do because it is complicated. You’ll see it can be pretty complicated.
Introduce you to the ACS, the airman certification standards, kind of the Bible on a checkride. It’s freely available, but something that is kind of getting the questions before the test and then try to take away that fear of the checkride just by preparing you in a positive way, getting you in the right mindset for it, making sure you study, making sure you organize the checkride and then you go in the checkride with confidence. And that’s really what it’s all about at the end of the day.
So a little bit about the structure of how I built this. It’s basically in four different parts that I’ve structured the course I’m building off of each other and building up to that day when you actually take your checkride.
So the first part of Checkride ACE that I go through, I’ve called perspective. That’s because I want people to keep the big picture at the end of the day. You need realize that you’ve come a long way since the very beginning of your flight training and now you are basically getting signed off by your instructor that you are the pilot that you are going for that reading for. So they’ve said, “Hey, with my professional opinion, I’ve trained this person, I’ve looked over all the paperwork, I’ve done everything, and they are ready to be this pilot.”
So when you show up for that checkride, you’re not magically going to become that pilot. You should go to the checkride as that pilot and that is the big picture thinking that I go into in-depth in the first part of Checkride ACE. So just making sure that with all these little details and this fear of this and this fear of that, and I heard someone failed their checkride because of this and did that. Bring that back and find the self confidence to say, “Hey, I’ve done everything I can do. I’ve been signed off. And then here I’m going to go through these next steps here in Checkride ACE and study and organize and then be ready for that last day.” So that’s perspective. That’s the first section.
The second section is study. So this is the most time consuming section that you’re going to go through because you will go through what I’ve created, which is a PAVE study guide. Now PAVE is an acronym that the FAA came up with for planning a flight. So it’s pilot aircraft environment, taking the V from environment and then external pressures. I structure that in a study guide that you then use for your checkride. So literally if you look at the ACS, it’s almost laid out exactly like PAVE you. You go through and you go through one step at a time kind of building up to a flight.
You have a scenario-based conversation about all that stuff and that will prepare you for the checkride. So I think that the oral portion of the check ride has always been the most daunting for me. The thing that I feared the most was sitting down with the DPE and talking about all these things and, and recalling my knowledge going through these different scenarios that they bring you through.
I get you in a good perspective for that, but you need to have studied that material that you haven’t studied in several weeks or months or in some cases over a year, or even longer. So really important to go through the that material again and prepare well for the checkride. In that same section, in the study section I’d go through the ACS, what it is, where to find it, different methods of going through it, how it’s broken down and what to look for in the ACS.
Because it is a little confusing when you look at it. It is a government document at the end of the day but they haven’t done a pretty good job of structuring it for pilots. And so I go through basically how to read it so you can understand what they’re looking for. So we do that as well. So that’s all the study section. That’s you getting that knowledge so you are ready for that oral portion of your checkride and there isn’t that nagging feeling that you’re forgetting something.
Gives you that confidence that you’ve really put in the work. You can recall everything and that you’re ready to go. You’re not expected to be perfect in a checkride. They’re going to be a little things that you stumble on, but when we go through this process again of reviewing that study, recollecting that knowledge, you will just have that inner confidence that you can handle it and that you know the things that you need to know. So that is the study section.
Organize. This is another big important part of this core. So really I have two core documents in this course, three if you count the ACS. But I had the PAVE study guide, which we talked about in this study section and then I had the checkride checklist, which is part of the organize section, which is the third section.
Checkride checklist is really important that lasts week when you’re getting ready for the checkride, you’re putting together all your hours, you’re filling out your logbook, you’re getting your final endorsements, you’re making sure all your endorsements are in a row. Making sure you have the aircraft logbooks, making sure you have all the materials and maps or iPad and ForeFlight and updates and charging cables and money and everything you need for a checkride to put all in one place in one checklist where you go down through. Make sure it’s all there is super helpful.
In that checklist, you’ll have like detailed sections on the hours that you need, the endorsements that you need, getting those things you need for the checkride. My list of what might be in your flight bag sort of thing. There’s a checkride folder at the end I say you should have these documents in the checkride folder and the money would be part of that for the DPE. So many details I can’t share here. The PAVE study guide is over 20 pages long. The checkride checklist is I think 15 pages long, designed well.
There’s lots of space in there, so it’s not just thousands of items, but easy to read through places to take notes, that sort of thing. But really, really, really important to just have a checklist. I mean we’re checklist people anyways as pilots to go through those items and be able to confidently say, “Hey, I organized. I’m not missing anything for this checkride.” And so again, you don’t have that nagging feeling. You feel educated about your checkride and everything that you need to have from the knowledge to all the paperwork. And I just think that’s really, really helpful. So that’s the checkride checklist, part of the organized section.
Then we get into the last section, which is become. And the reason why I called it become is because you’re going to become a pilot or you’re going to become an instrument pilot or become a commercial pilot. And that’s a really cool big day, a great thing at the end. I think when we think holistically about becoming something, we really have to A. Put in the work, which I’m assuming you’re going to do, but going through that, but then just like kind of letting yourself become who you should be as that pilot.
And so having that mindset of becoming and letting yourself become that pilot is very, very important. So we talked about the big checkride day, we talk about the oral tests and the purpose of it, a little bit of how it’ll go. Talked about the practical tests a little bit, how that will go. Now this isn’t a review of all the knowledge and questions you need to know within those. You should have already done all that work before the checkride. And we talked about preparing emotionally, physically, mentally, and just going in without a lot of the unnecessary stress. You’re basically stressing upfront through going through something like Checkride ACE before you go to your checkride. So you don’t have to stress in your check ride.
If you stressing in your checkride, you’re not going to perform as well as you would. So that’s what I’m trying to avoid at the end of the day. But I also, honestly, I really hate to see people get to their checkride. They get all the way there and then they fail, not fail, but they have to start over or do it again, or repeat different parts because they weren’t familiar with something that’s publicly available and really simple at the end of the day.
That just bugs me so bad. And so I really want to see people achieve those things in a positive way without a lot of these hiccups that tend to happen with this kind of complicated process. So hope it’s made more simple through this course. I really know it is. So that goes to kind of my final thoughts here. So the checkride should not be this big scary endeavor and I just see that so many people go into with fear and I know that I certainly did.
There’s always that apprehension. A lot is on the line. I think a lot of that again, has to do with the fact that we almost don’t see ourselves as that pilot. It almost seems unattainable. But as I’ve said many, many times through all the content that I do is you really do become a better person when you become a pilot or add on a new rating because you have to put in a lot of work and be a better you to make it happen.
And so that’s what I focus on more and making sure that we, we realize that, you’re not going to kill your career or do anything really terrible. There really aren’t some very bad outcomes to this. You try it again if you have an issue. But if you prepare well like you would with a ground school or with this course or both, obviously then you’re going to do is just fine and it shouldn’t be scary.
So another big thing is that the questions are laid out for you. It’s like they give you the questions for the test before the actual test. Okay. That’s exactly what the ACS is. I go through and kind of wrap my content around that so you can even take what I’m saying today and go do your own thing with the ACS. That’d be totally fine, but the ACS is laying it all out for you. That’s what the DPE uses when they go through the checkride. So you’ve got it all right there in front of you.
I think where I structure things around that a little bit is making sure that you’re more organized for the checkride, that you do have some sort of study guide to go through and study the material in a memorable way with the PAVE checklist. And then the emotional stuff too to make sure that your mind is in the game on this.
So your final work, this is another point in your final work for this is key. I know that at the very end here it feels like you’ve put on put in all the effort you can, but to go the extra mile and make it happen is going to be really big for you. It’s really not worth risking everything here at the very end by not putting in a little bit of extra work to just go across the finish line in a really good and positive way. You’ll feel like you deserve it. You’ll feel like you didn’t just pass the pass. You won’t feel like you got any breaks. You’ll know that you deserve that and that’s a very good feeling.
And another point here is I do want you to go in more relaxed. I want you to be more confident. I want you to own up to the fact that you are that pilot, that you know all the little details of what you need to know. And inevitably you are in control. You are the pilot in command in this checkride, regardless of everything else, you show who you are by how you prepared. You show who you are in the checkride, which is what they’re actually testing.
They want to see how you think things through in the oral portion. They want to see how you fly the airplane and make decisions in an airplane and the practical portion, and that’s what they’re testing. But it’s all up to you. You’re the pilot and command no matter what. You are inevitably the person that makes the decisions on even your checkride flight. So everything you do is under your control, how well you prepare, how well that check ride goes. You’re in total control.
So that’s a bit about Checkride ACE. I’m happy to answer any questions you guys have in the comments, whether that’s here on the website, on YouTube, on Instagram, wherever it’s at. Feel free to ask me anything about a check ride. It helps me keep my mind in the game too. That’s where all of this came from is I asked many people what their challenges were with checkrides and kind of created a structure of common things that people had gone through.
If you’re interested, go to really simple, again, available for private instrument and commercial and currently as of the time of this podcast it’s $99, which is literally an hour and a half of my time that I would charge as an instructor. So it’s almost like you connecting to me as your instructor and and me helping you across the finish line, which is a really cool thing.
And that’s not to discount what your instructor has done because I think that there are just so many great instructors out there and, and I honor my colleagues for the hard work that they’re doing out there in the field. So I appreciate you guys being here, let me know if you have any questions, really excited to see you and Checkride ACE and hear how it has helped people and help you avoid some things in checkride too and do better on some others.
So really excited about that. This is on the I guess the precipice of a lot of hard work that I’ve done to make sure that this goes forward and that this message, if you want to call it that, gets out to the community and then it makes a positive difference. And at the end of the day, that is what I’m trying to do here with Angle of Attack is create great flight training resources, entertaining flight training resources that help you be a better pilot, help you become a pilot and at the end of the day make you a safer pilot as well.
So hope you guys enjoy the course, appreciate you being here. Of course, as always, please share AviatorCast. Let other people know about it. Please be part of the community that is the best part here is to have conversations about everything going on. Let me know if you like the podcast. I respond to every comment that I can, even if you didn’t like the podcast. So whatever it is, please reach out. I’m always here to help and thank you for all that you’re putting into aviation now.
I know that sometimes when you’re in the trenches, even when you’re a student pilot, you feel you’re alone a lot of the time, even maybe separated from your instructor, you feel like you’re in a different reality from even them. But I can promise you that the more flights you do, the more steps you take forward, the more you’re breaking down those barriers that defeat so many other people.
So I’m just really excited when I see people do that and reach for their dreams and achieve their dreams. So keep doing that. Keep working toward it and my way of saying that, the way I end everything and you guys know what it is, is until next time, throttle on.

We sincerely thank you for joining us on AviatorCast. Please subscribe through your favorite podcast service and leave a review.
Check out more flight training resources at there you can find this podcast, many free aviation training videos as well as online ground school for private instrument commercial and CFI.
Got a checkride coming up? Checkride ACE from Angle of Attack is your ultimate companion guiding you through the process, so you can conquer your big day.
Thanks once again for joining us on AviatorCast. Turn left contact ground point niner.


Chris Palmer

Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.


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