Real Answers from Real Pilots

Checkride experience

Dear pilots,
I have been very eager as to how you felt about your achievement of the solo flight, cross country flights and your FAA checkride. What does the FAA expect from you for each of these? What kinds of things did you have to perform?
Thanks,
Dylan

Dylan,

Every checkride and “gate” along the way is an accomplishment and gets you that much closer to your goal. First solo and my Private checkride were definitely biggies for me. That and my first checkride at an airline were probably the high points but they all feel good (or at least are a relief). For every checkride there’s something called the ACS (Airmen Certification Standards) which evolved from the PTS (Practical Test Standards). These outline exactly what’s expected of the applicant for each checkride. Overall the examiners expect you to be knowledgeable, skilled and exhibit good decision making and of course be well prepared.

Adam

Adam,

Thank you for your response! It helped a lot! How effective is getting a degree while working for the regionals? I will be graduating high school early in the early part of january next year. I am planning on getting my PPl in the spring while taking a few basic college classes and then going to ATP for my commercial and flight instructing. Then get a job with the regionals! How long would it take to “effectively and smoothly” complete your online degree while working? Once you start flight instructing, can you start your degree? Does it look bad to get an online degree versus in person? I am someone who doesn’t care about the college experience as I am there just for school. Is it cheaper to do it online? Is it more difficult? I am just thinking online might be the way to go because the hiring of the majors will be crucial with timing and it seems the quicker you get in the better. So by doing your degree while flight instructing at ATP and working at the regionals, you are saving 4 years. Does online degree revolve around your schedule at the regionals? When would you work on it?
Thanks,
Dylan

Dylan,

Honestly I have ZERO experience personally with online degrees as I got my education before the invention of the home computer. That said I know it’s a very popular option for many pilots I’ve known. From what I’ve heard it is less expensive and gives you a fair amount of flexibility as to when you study etc. I would recommend you hold off until you’re at a Regional. Ideally you’ll be as busy as an Instructor as you were as a student so you might not have all the downtown you need? You could of course start light with a few credits and see how it goes. The biggest obstacle I’ve heard from people is it does require a fair amount of discipline. Flying for a Regional is a lot of fun. Seeing new places, hanging with the crews and having a grand ole time. When everyone says they’re going out you’ll need to say “no, I have to study”. Inevitably they’ll be some who’ll bust your chops, and say you’re a nerd, or there may be that VERY attractive FA who says “c’mon Dylan, let’s hang out”. It can be challenging but as long as you keep your eyes on the prize you should be fine.

Adam

Thanks Adam! That helped a lot!