Real Answers from Real Pilots

Takeoff and Landing Evaluation

(Evan Laufman) #1

Hey everyone

I used this forum a couple years ago when doing my research on how best to pursue my goal of becoming a professional pilot. I’m happy to report now that after getting my degree at Colorado College in environmental science, I’m enrolled at the Mesa Gateway location from zero time, about a month in now and loving every minute.

Today I passed my takeoff and landing evaluation, one of the few evaluations that you accomplish before your first solo flight. It consists of three full stop landings and taxibacks, as well as a go around. An instructor is sitting in the right seat, but only to intervene in dangerous situations, so it really almost feels like you are up there by yourself. In fact, our flight featured three go arounds due to some poor spacing on the controller’s part (here at IWA, the tower is in fact a training tower, and it sure adds to the excitement in an already hectic Class Delta), as well as my first experience encountering wake turbulence, which will definitely wake you up at 0600!

It feels great to have your budding confidence reaffirmed by an experienced instructor, and I’m happy to be moving forward with the program. Up until now, I have been right on track with the set timeline, and I think the upcoming flight blocks are more conducive to allowing me to start getting ahead in the program which I fully intend on doing.

As for the ground portion, I will say that my degree has really made weather and atmospheric dynamics an absolute breeze, and I’m sure that many other degrees have tangential benefits to flying as well. You don’t need an aviation degree to succeed! Study what you enjoy learning about and get started on your flight training. Looking forward to more flights in the near future!

(Tucker) #2

Awesome job with the TOL Eval! You will be soloing before you know it!!!

The fact you are finding weather to be easy is going to be a huge help as that seems to be what most students struggle with the most when it comes to knowledge. That’s going to help you stay one step ahead.

You sound very motivated, which is awesome. Keep that motivation through the entire program! You will thank yourself, and your instructor will thank you!

(TX) #3

Just an FYI from a former controller… IWA is not a “training tower”. People throw that term around, it’s not a thing. Every tower involves training for new controllers, whether it’s their first or they’ve been doing it for years.

There are definitely slower facilities that tend to hire more brand new controllers, but Mesa is more middle of the pack, in my opinion. Definitely not an easy place to start. Falcon is another, if you’ve been there. For that matter, all controllers making spacing errors from time to time… it’s more art than science. With a bunch of people conspiring to screw it up, haha.

But one way you can tell if somebody is training on position? When you’re given a control instruction, immediately followed by a different instruction by a different voice. Thy just got overkeyed. The controller equivalent of “my controls”.

Congrats on the eval!

(Evan Laufman) #4

Thanks for clarifying, I had heard that from it was from a couple of instructors and took their word for it, and I have definitely heard a different voice key in after an instruction haha. I will say that last week I was chewed out for calling ready for departure when holding short number 2, and then chewed out by a different voice the very next day for waiting until number 1 to call ready. But of course, not trying to place the blame entirely on the controller for spacing, with multiple student pilots in the pattern it’s a bit of a free for all!

(TX) #5

Haha. Don’t take it personally. Controllers can get grumpy when they deal with tons of student pilots.

They’re just upset that you have a better view from your office.


Good work on passing the eval and thank you for coming back to let us know you enrolled in the program. I look forward to more updates.


(Zachary Porter) #7

I should be completing my TOL1 eval sometime late next week as well! Congrats! Keep pushing!

(Evan Laufman) #8

Just wanted to check back in now that its been a couple more months. Everything continues to go well, I felt great going into the private checkride and passed with flying colors which felt great to have that under my belt. Instrument training has been fantastic, it’s really starting to feel like I’m becoming an ‘actual’ pilot now. Got my first dose of actual time this weekend going to Yuma and Havasu, and got to experience copying an IFR clearance in the air while climbing in a hold, man that was fun (not being sarcastic, it was a great experience). We also got assigned an arrival procedure on the way back which was a first for both of us.

In other news, I really feel like I’ve formed a strong connection with my instructor. We work great as a team and even chat on the phone during off days just for fun. He’s incredibly talented, just a month or two into instructing and is already poised to become a lead here in a week or two. In fact, he was commuting from Scottsdale to Mesa, and had told me that he was going to stay with me through my instrument training before accepting a position at the Scottsdale location which I found really generous since he’s married with a family and was giving up precious time at home to see me through. Despite this, he was informed that if he wanted Scottsdale he had to go right then, and was forced to take it. He asked me to come with him if I was open to the idea, and after some deliberation I decided that I absolutely wanted to do that, and so as of last week I have officially transferred from Mesa to Scottsdale for the remainder of my training. It’s absolutely worth it though, I’m already having visions of right seating for this guy someday, haha!

Currently three weeks ahead of schedule even after the holiday break and should have my instrument checkride on the schedule by Friday. Onward and upward.

(Tory) #9


Thank you for sharing. These are the stories that we love to hear about. That kind of student-instructor chemistry makes all the difference. Doesn’t it?




I am glad things are going well. Thank you for checking in and keeping us up to date, we appreciate it.